AA Policy for Zika Virus: Refunds, etc.

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Old Mar 23, 16, 2:47 am   -   Wikipost
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AA Policy for Zika virus affected countries, inc. ticket refund / miles redeposit


NOTE: This thread is to discuss the actions of AA regarding those who have booked travel to Zika virus affected areas, not for extensive discussion of Zika virus. There is a link toward the bottom of this wikipost to the thread for further discussion of Zika virus unrelated to American Airlines.

Zika virus is transmitted by the day biting mosquitos of the genus Aedes . The virus has no vaccine and no cure; most often, ~80% of the time, there are mild or undetected symptoms associated with Zika virus. However, there are growing implications for pregnant women, and resulting cranio-cerebral effects on the developing fetus. The number of children born with microcephaly in Brazil, highly impacted by Zika virus, has burgeoned.

If you are pregnant or at risk of pregnancy, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises cancelling travel to Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, several countries in South America and Cape Verde Islands at this time. (The only countries in the Western Hemisphere free of Aedes egypti mosquitos are Canada and Chile, which are to cool to support them. High and cool, dry areas are best for avoiding Aedes; Zika virus is predicted to spread at this time.

Resource links:

Zika virus travel policy Link to this page

If you're pregnant and traveling to a destination in Latin America or the Caribbean that's affected by the Zika virus, you and your travel companions can request a refund. Just provide a doctor's note confirming your pregnancy when you request a refund.

(current 23 Mar 2016)
Link to AA Travel Alerts and Policy (while there now seems to be a Zika virus policy, it may not appear here).

CDC issues interim travel guidance related to Zika virus for 14 Countries and Territories

Travelers' Health - Destination Index to begin with. There's plenty of information on how to minimize exposure to mosquito bites, for instance.

CDC Travel Notices (with links to Zika areas, etc.)

BBC article 25 Jan 2016 on global spread of Zika virus

FlyerTalk: Travelers: Zika (and dengue, chikungunya) virus issues (2016)
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Old Jan 20, 16, 11:09 am
  #1  
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Ticket Refund for Pregnant Woman Travel to Zika Virus Risk Area?

My wife and I booked a trip to Puerto Rico in February. Since this time, my wife has become pregnant. This morning we learned about the new CDC warning about the Zika virus in Puerto Rico. The CDC states: Women who are pregnant (in any trimester): Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

This virus is very scary. Only 1 in 5 women infected show symptoms and the resulting birth defects to the baby are horrible.

Needless to say, we are not willing to go on vacation and take this major risk. I foolishly purchased our tickets instead of using miles so now I am stuck. Do I have any hope at all of getting this refunded due to the circumstances? I know I can get a credit (less $200/each), but it needs to be used within 12 months of date of purchase (November), and with a baby coming in August, we are likely going to have this credit go to waste.

I called the EXP line this morning and the agent told me to write to AA customer service via the online form which I've done. Are there any other avenues that I should pursue? Is it possible that AA will institute a formal travel advisory for pregnant woman to the infected locations? It seems like a small population that would be impacted and absolutely the right thing for them to do.

Last edited by JDiver; Jan 27, 16 at 9:34 pm Reason: Restore original post content
rikramer is offline  
Old Jan 20, 16, 11:39 am
  #2  
 
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There are other reasons to not be traveling while pregnant, West Nile, dengue, any number of mosquito diseases. Any number of other diseases. The plane itself isn't exactly a good place for pregnant women. I don't expect them to give you a refund ...

Last edited by JDiver; Jan 20, 16 at 12:09 pm Reason: Redacted unfriendly rude bits
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Old Jan 20, 16, 11:43 am
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<redacted>

To the OP: your case may be helped if you can get a note from your wife's doctor.

Last edited by JDiver; Jan 20, 16 at 12:10 pm Reason: Redacted previously deleted post content and reply
bse118 is offline  
Old Jan 20, 16, 11:49 am
  #4  
 
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My wife and I were heading to my brothers wedding this weekend in Puerto Rico. Luckily we got our tickets with miles. None the less I am not traveling solo. We put in a request to get the miles redeposited without a fee.

Most airlines allowed changes and cancellations for Ebola. For the fetus this is equivalent to Ebola.
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Old Jan 20, 16, 12:17 pm
  #5  
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Originally Posted by rikramer View Post
My wife and I booked a trip to Puerto Rico in February. Since this time, my wife has become pregnant. This morning we learned about the new CDC warning about the Zika virus in Puerto Rico. The CDC states: Women who are pregnant (in any trimester): Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

This virus is very scary. Only 1 in 5 women infected show symptoms and the resulting birth defects to the baby are horrible.

Needless to say, we are not willing to go on vacation and take this major risk. I foolishly purchased our tickets instead of using miles so now I am stuck. Do I have any hope at all of getting this refunded due to the circumstances? I know I can get a credit (less $200/each), but it needs to be used within 12 months of date of purchase (November), and with a baby coming in August, we are likely going to have this credit go to waste.

I called the EXP line this morning and the agent told me to write to AA customer service via the online form which I've done. Are there any other avenues that I should pursue? Is it possible that AA will institute a formal travel advisory for pregnant woman to the infected locations? It seems like a small population that would be impacted and absolutely the right thing for them to do.
This is not exactly a "major risk", given it's Puerto Rico and the method of transmission and control. You are IMO resorting to hyperbole here. There are risks - particularly in Brasil, and there are ways to manage risks and exposure to the Aedes aegpti mosquitoes that are vectors for several arboviruses of current concern. CDC says, in part:

This alert follows reports in Brazil of microcephaly and other poor pregnancy outcomes in babies of mothers who were infected with Zika virus while pregnant. However, additional studies are needed to further characterize this relationship. More studies are planned to learn more about the risks of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.

Until more is known, and out of an abundance of caution, CDC recommends special precautions for pregnant women and women trying to become pregnant:

Pregnant women in any trimester should consider postponing travel to the areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing. Pregnant women who must travel to one of these areas should talk to their doctor or other healthcare provider first and strictly follow steps to avoid mosquito bites during the trip.

Women trying to become pregnant should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to these areas and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites during the trip.

Because specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are difficult to determine and likely to change over time, CDC will update this travel notice as information becomes available. Check the CDC travel website frequently for the most up-to-date recommendations.
I do understand your concerns and preference for caution. I'd recommend you formulate a letter to AA that includes data from the CDC / U. S. Center's for Disease Control and Prevention (see http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/20...us-travel.html and especially http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/...us-puerto-rico).

You've written AACS already; wait for ther response. If it's negative, you can even try calling again once you have some data to back you up you can read to an agent. Otherwise, see http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/ameri...er-thread.html for an escalation to snail mail.

(By the way, Dengue fever is endemic to Puerto Rico, and Zika has the same infection vector as the spreading Dengue and Chikungunya viruses - research prior to travel helps one learn how to control risks and make a more informed decision about travel to certain areas. See

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/Travel

and

http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list

Last edited by JDiver; Jan 20, 16 at 6:30 pm
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Old Jan 20, 16, 12:32 pm
  #6  
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Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry: BlackBerry8530/5.0.0.1030 Profile/MIDP-2.1 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/417)

"I foolishly purchased our tickets instead of using miles so now I am stuck."

Are you sure that you're stuck? Which credit card did you use to purchase the tickets?
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Old Jan 20, 16, 12:33 pm
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Many countries with daily AA service have yellow fever and malaria epidemics, for example, yet I can't recall hearing of a refund issued for this reason.

Keep trying, OP, but I think the odds of success are slim.

Last edited by Microwave; Jan 20, 16 at 1:08 pm Reason: Removed quote of deleted post
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Old Jan 20, 16, 12:40 pm
  #8  
 
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Originally Posted by ThreeJulietTango View Post
^ Many countries with daily AA service have yellow fever and malaria epidemics, for example, yet I can't recall hearing of a refund issued for this reason.
Malaria and yellow fever have generally been endemic in those areas for centuries, while information on zika and its risks is rapidly evolving. As noted above, there is precedent for such allowances from the Ebola outbreak.
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Old Jan 20, 16, 12:43 pm
  #9  
 
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No airline with a shred of self-interest would decline to at least issue a full credit in the wake of a brand new CDC warning to defer travel if a woman is pregnant. A full refund may be tough, but I'd expect at least a full credit to be issues with minimal hassle.

The bad PR alone would cost way more than issuing some credits.
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Old Jan 20, 16, 1:14 pm
  #10  
ont
 
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Maybe I am not understanding something here. But if you bought a non-refundable ticket, why do you expect a refund? There are refundable fares, if you want to guard yourself from risks.
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Old Jan 20, 16, 1:22 pm
  #11  
 
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Originally Posted by rikramer View Post
My wife and I booked a trip to Puerto Rico in February. Since this time, my wife has become pregnant. This morning we learned about the new CDC warning about the Zika virus in Puerto Rico. The CDC states: Women who are pregnant (in any trimester): Consider postponing travel to any area where Zika virus transmission is ongoing.

This virus is very scary. Only 1 in 5 women infected show symptoms and the resulting birth defects to the baby are horrible.

Needless to say, we are not willing to go on vacation and take this major risk. I foolishly purchased our tickets instead of using miles so now I am stuck. Do I have any hope at all of getting this refunded due to the circumstances? I know I can get a credit (less $200/each), but it needs to be used within 12 months of date of purchase (November), and with a baby coming in August, we are likely going to have this credit go to waste.

I called the EXP line this morning and the agent told me to write to AA customer service via the online form which I've done. Are there any other avenues that I should pursue? Is it possible that AA will institute a formal travel advisory for pregnant woman to the infected locations? It seems like a small population that would be impacted and absolutely the right thing for them to do.
I would reach out to @americanair.
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Old Jan 20, 16, 1:32 pm
  #12  
 
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If you are wanting to use a medical excuse, you will need a Doctor to sign off on it, not a phone call,

Everyone has an entitlement excuse in today's world.

If she is pregnate, she should have no problem getting them to sign a statement.
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Old Jan 20, 16, 1:32 pm
  #13  
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They will do it. Too much pr fallout if they don't.
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Old Jan 20, 16, 1:33 pm
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Originally Posted by satman40 View Post
If you are wanting to use a medical excuse, you will need a Doctor to sign off on it, not a phone call,

Everyone has an entitlement excuse in today's world.

If she is pregnate, she should have no problem getting them to sign a statement.
I think the point of contention is less that the individual is pregnant and more that AA is not yet formally recognizing the risk to this flying population as sufficient to warrant a refund/credit/etc.
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Old Jan 20, 16, 1:35 pm
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Originally Posted by ont View Post
Maybe I am not understanding something here. But if you bought a non-refundable ticket, why do you expect a refund? There are refundable fares, if you want to guard yourself from risks.
This is the part I can't wrap my head around. We are going back again to the times when airlines had bereavement fares, and people took advantage of it, now they no longer offer bereavement fares.

I've flown numerous times to SJU, 10x in the past year alone, and I've been lucky. There have been numerous reports of the chinkunguya (spelling?) virus, but I've protected myself. Some friends of mine where affected by it. No airline is going to stop flying to SJU.

OP, you need to follow JDIVER's advise on how to communicate to AA. If AA says no, at least you tried. If you want flexibility with your ticket purchase, then you need to buy a more flexible ticket option.

Good luck, and congrats on the pregnancy.
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