- JetBlue is offering free flight cancellations or changes on all newly-booked flights, as people grow increasingly worried about traveling during the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
- JetBlue is the first US airline to offer such a policy on all routes, though some other airlines are offering similar conditions to people who booked flights to the worst-affected areas.
- The virus has now spread to at least 40 other countries, leading to fears of an industry slowdown.
- JetBlue said its policy applies to flights booked between February 27 and March 11, providing the flight is completed by June 1.
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JetBlue has become the first US airline to waive cancelation and flight-change fees on all of its routes because of the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
The airline announced on Wednesday that it will “suspend change and cancel fees for new flight bookings starting tomorrow, February 27, through March 11, 2020, for travel completed by June 1, 2020.”
Many airlines in Asia have refunded tickets and other airlines, including US ones, have allowed customers to change flights bound for certain areas. But JetBlue is the first in the US to offer such a wide policy.
JetBlue does not offer flights to Asia, where the virus is the most widespread, or to Europe, where the virus is rapidly taking hold.
- Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters
Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue’s CEO and President, acknowledged this in a statement and said: “While authorities have not issued any travel restrictions to the locations we fly, we want to give our customers some peace of mind that we are ready to support them should the situation change.”
JetBlue flies across the US as well as to destinations in Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
Change and cancellation fees with the airline can typically cost up to $200, CNBC reported.
JetBlue’s statement said: “Customers who book in the next two weeks will receive a full travel credit should they need to cancel their trip, and customers who wish to change their plans can apply the full amount from their original booking to a different itinerary, although fare differences may apply.”
- The Central Hospital of Wuhan via Weibo/Reuters
Given that JetBlue’s new policy only applies to newly-booked flights, it is likely designed to encourage people to keep booking flights and stop a potential halt in new flight bookings over concerns about the virus.
That has become a big fear for the airlines sector, which is now bracing for a major slowdown thanks to the spread of the virus and related flight cancellations or travel restrictions.
Many US, European, and Asian airlines have introduced travel waivers to certain destinations, or have stopped their flights to certain parts of the world.
The outbreak began in China, but the virus has now spread to at least 40 other countries. It has killed more than 2,800 people and infected more than 82,000, though most of these cases have taken place in mainland China.
While most countries still only have a handful of cases, some countries, like Italy, South Korea, and Iran, have recently seen a spike in the number of infections and deaths, causing alarm among neighboring countries.
- REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
More new cases are now being reported outside of China than in China in a day.
The US had 60 confirmed cases as of Wednesday.
The State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued travel notices for countries most affected by the coronavirus: China, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran, and Hong Kong.
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