U.S. airlines suspend & reduce flights to Japan, Italy, China and more amid Coronavirus scare, announce waivers

Thursday, March 05, 2020

The coronavirus outbreak in different parts of the world has made the situation grim resulting in sharp decline in travel demand. Coronavirus, also called COVID-19, emanated from China’s Wuhan, and has now spread in many parts of the globe. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported more than 90,000 cases, with more than 80,000 cases alone from China. At least four countries – China, Italy, Iran and South Korea – gravely impacted. However, the travel demand worldwide has taken a severe hit.

Major U.S. airlines have responded with the suspension or reduction in flights services from various U.S. cities to Asia and Europe and offering waivers to the customers for changing their plans. The airlines which have swiftly acted over this extraordinary health scare include Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines and JetBlue Airways.  

Delta Air Lines

The travel demand in the country has dropped. The World Health Organization has reported 268 coronavirus cases in Japan so far.

  • Delta Air Lines has reduced its weekly flights to Japan.
  • The airline announced that it is reducing its daily roundtrip flights from Tokyo to Portland (Oregon); Osaka to Honolulu; and Nagoya to Detroit and Honolulu, to thrice weekly service starting from March 7.
  • The airline will also now be operating only five-times per week flights from Tokyo to Minneapolis and Atlanta from the existing daily roundtrip service. The full service is to be resumed on April 30.
  • Delta Air Lines further stated that it has suspended its summer seasonal flights between Seattle and Osaka for 2020 and will start in 2021.
  • The airline informed that it will allow its affected customers to rebook on alternate flights or on those flights which will be taking off after April 30 without a change fee. The affected customers can also seek a refund too. 

Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines has also suspended flights between Milan, the capital of Lombardy, and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) until May 1. The airline’s seasonal service between New York JFK and Venice has also been rescheduled from April 1 to May 1. Delta Air Lines has also waived change fees for customers who don’t want to go to Italy or South Korea.

United Airlines

United Airlines has announced it will be reducing flights in the United States and Canada by 10% and international flights by a total 20% in April from its original schedule. The reduction includes international flights that have already been canceled several weeks ago. The airline has indicated that it wants a similar reduction in domestic and international services in May.

So far there are no restrictions on domestic travel. However, United Airlines has said that despite this it will allow its customers to reschedule their trips booked between March 3 and 31, free of cost, on the condition that the change has been made within 12 months and the ticket is of equal or lesser value. The customers looking to cancel their trip are allowed to apply the value of the ticket to a new one, without any change or cancellation fee, for up to 12 months from the original ticket's issue date.

Meanwhile, United Airlines has announced it will be waiving change fees to its customers who have already booked flights to Italy or South Korea and don’t want to visit those countries now.

American Airlines

American Airlines has announced the suspension of its flights from Milan to New York JFK until April 25. The airline will also be waiving change fees for its customers traveling to Italy. American Airlines however said that those traveling to South Korea are offered the option to cancel their flights itself.

JetBlue Airways

JetBlue Airways has said that it is carefully monitoring the situation arising due to coronavirus outbreak and will be taking action. The airline is planning to reduce capacity by an "initial" 5% "in the near term." JetBlue Airways further stated that the customers who are already booked on affected flights will now be moved to other flights that will reach them to their respective destinations "on the same day."

Travel Advisories due to CONVID19

The State Department has advised U.S. citizens to immediately reconsider their plans for traveling to Italy. However, even if they decide to go there, then they shouldn’t visit the regions of Veneto and Lombardy, where local quarantines were enacted.

Similar advisories have also been issued for American citizens against visiting South Korea, which has been placed under a Level 3 travel advisory due to an outbreak in Daegu.