As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, airlines are amending their policies to accommodate and protect travelers. Here’s where some of the major U.S. airlines stood as of press time:
Southwest Airlines: As of now, Southwest has not canceled or suspended flights or routes, and none of the 102 destinations that Southwest serves are currently listed as geographic risks by the CDC. The airline has expanded overnight cleaning procedures to use hospital-grade disinfectant throughout the aircraft (instead of just in bathrooms). Planes are also equipped with HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, which filter out recirculated air to remove airborne particles on planes. Southwest Airlines’ cancellation policy remains the same — the airline does not charge customers a fee to change or cancel a flight. If customers’ plans change or they decide they no longer want to travel, the funds used to pay for their flight can be applied to future travel as long as they cancel their flight at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. The funds are valid for future travel up to one year from the original purchase date and must be used by the individual named on the ticket.
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United Airlines: United Airlines is suspending flights from the U.S. to Beijing, Chengdu and Hong Kong through April 30. The airline is also reducing some international and domestic schedules. The cleaning procedure for flights includes a thorough wipe-down of all hard surfaces touched by customers and employees including lavatories, galleys, tray tables, window shades and armrests, the airline said. United uses "an effective, high-grade disinfectant and multi-purpose cleaner." When advised by the CDC of an employee or customer who has traveled on board and who is potentially exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, United said that aircraft is taken out of service and sent through a full decontamination process that includes standard cleaning procedures plus washing ceilings and overhead bins and scrubbing the interior. Planes are also equipped with HEPA filters. United Airlines is waiving change fees for both domestic and international bookings made between March 3-31. The waiver applies to all tickets, fare types, destinations, points of sale and all travel dates available for sale.
Delta Airlines: All U.S. flights to China are suspended through April 30, and some flights to South Korea, Italy and Japan are suspended into April and May. Delta uses an EPA-registered disinfectant on flights that is "rated to combat many communicable diseases." Fogging procedures are being performed on all trans-Pacific flights arriving into the U.S. The airline is eliminating change fees for tickets purchased March 1-31 for travel from now through Feb. 25, 2021. Tickets may be changed once to an alternative itinerary and must be reissued on or before Feb. 28, 2021. Rebooked travel must begin no later than Feb. 28, 2021.
American Airlines: The airline has suspended flights to China, Milan, Italy and South Korea into April. The airline uses an EPA-approved disinfectant, and international flights and aircraft with additional time on the ground will receive a detailed 30-point cleaning package each day. Tickets purchased now through March 31 may be changed once without a change fee. Tickets must be purchased for travel between now and Jan. 30, 2021.
JetBlue Airlines: Currently there are no travel restrictions to the locations where JetBlue flies. The airline said it is "stepping up cleaning and sanitizing procedures." Change and cancellation fees will not be charged for all flight bookings made between now and March 31 for travel through Sept. 8 or for bookings that were made between Feb. 27 and March 5 for travel through June 1, 2020.
Frontier Airlines: Aircraft are regularly cleaned using disinfectant deemed by the EPA as effective against COVID-19. The airline has also made the "proactive decision to elevate the cleaning and sanitation of our aircraft beyond standard practice during this time." The airline said it will honor a pledge to waive change fees, despite previously reported confusion on the policy.
Allegiant Airlines: The airline has not suspended any scheduled flights or routes due to the coronavirus. Customers with reservations may request a one-time change to their travel plans without incurring change or cancellation fees.
Spirit Airlines: The airline will use EPA approved disinfectants on all planes and utilize HEPA filters that capture 99.97% of particles.