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Airlines Offer Refunds, Options to Travelers Bound for Areas Affected by Zika Virus

A researcher looks at Aedes aegypti mosquitoes kept in a container at a lab of the Institute of Biomedical Sciences of the Sao Paulo University, on January 8, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal are in Brazil to train local researchers to combat Zika virus epidemic. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDANELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images

Legacy carriers will offer refunds to select flyers heading to areas affected by Zika virus.

[Update 1/28/16 10:10 a.m. PST, via Delta Air Lines: “Delta customers with current reservations who are concerned about traveling to destinations reported by the CDC to be affected by Zika Viral Illness may qualify for a change to alternate destinations, travel dates or a refund. Customers may make fee-waived changes to future reservations/tickets. However, changes need to be made by February 29, 2016.”]

Two American legacy carriers will offer refunds to travelers who are flying to areas that have been affected by the spread of the Zika virus. USA Today reports both American Airlines and United Airlines will offer travelers the option to defer or cancel trips to areas affected by the outbreak as identified by the Centers for Disease Control.

Earlier in January 2016, the CDC issued a travel alert due to the virus outbreak. As a result, over 20 popular destinations in Central and South America have been identified as areas with Zika virus transmission, including Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

A spokesperson for the carrier told USA Today they would offer options to those traveling to the areas affected by the outbreak. In a statement on their website, United advises flyers to contact their customer contact center in order to change an itinerary.

“We are offering customers who are traveling to the affected regions the opportunity to rebook at a later date or receive a full refund,” United spokesperson Charles Hobart told USA Today. “For travelers who feel they’re at risk, we’ll provide them with options.”

American Airlines is also offering travelers refunds or changes on their itineraries due to the Zika virus, but with many more restrictions. According to USA Today, the waivers will extend to travelers heading to select destinations, including Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. In order to receive a refund, flyers must provide the airline with a doctor’s note confirming a pregnancy.

Delta Air Lines is the only carrier among the three legacy airlines that is not currently offering changes for those flying to Central or South America. A spokesperson for the Atlanta-based airline told USA Today they will “monitor the situation closely,” but no waiver is currently in effect.

[Photo: AFP/Nelson] 

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