Scientists writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association have warned the World Health Organization that the Zika disease could turn into a pandemic if action isn’t taken to contain it. And airlines around the world are responding by accommodating passengers who have booked flights to Latin America and the Caribbean, where Zika has spread.
Zika is a disease caused by a virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, according to the Centers for Disease Control. There is no vaccine for the disease, which causes pregnant women to deliver babies with microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age.
Below is a list of airlines and how they are accommodating travelers in Zika-infected areas.
The Mexico City-based carrier is allowing passengers to make flight changes at no extra charge to pregnant women who have a note from a medical professional. But it warns that any refunds will only be issued in accordance with its regular policies and the conditions, based on fare class and otherwise, of the ticket purchased.
The country’s flag carrier is allowing pregnant women with a note from a health care professional, along with their companions, to make ticket changes on flights to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America between February 4 and June 30, 2016. Contact customer service to make changes.
The Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier says that pregnant women and their companions traveling to a destination in Latin America that's affected by the Zika virus can get a refund after providing a doctor's note confirming a pregnancy. The refund form is here.
The UK’s flag carrier reports it is “closely monitoring reports of the Zika virus in Brazil, Mexico and across the Caribbean.” It advises passengers who have questions about their travel plans to contact them here.
Delta Air Lines
The Atlanta-based airline is advising travelers with reservations flying to destinations affected by Zika to call 1-800-221-1212 and speak with a Delta representative. The carrier gives customers the choice of changing destinations and travel dates or get a refund. But any changes need to be made by February 29, 2016.
The New York-based airline is offering refunds or the option to change travel plans to alternate destinations or dates. Changes can be made through March 14, 2016. The airline advises passengers to call 1-800-538-2583 to make changes.
The Santiago, Chile-based holding company for Chile’s LAN Airlines and Brazil’s TAM Airlines is offering refunds or ticket changes for pregnant women with medical certification and their travelling companions booked on international flights to Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and other affected Latin American and Caribbean countries.
The Dallas-based carrier says it is following CDC guidelines for air carriers on the Zika virus. It will allow customers to change their travel plans without a change fee and non-refundable fares can be applied toward future travel.
For travel dates through December 31. 2016, the Chicago-based carrier is allowing travelers the options of changing their destination or travel date without a change fee, or receiving a refund to 20 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America. All changes must be completed by February 29, 2016, and extra charges may apply if there is a difference in fare for the new itinerary. The airline requests that customers call 1-888-854-3899 to make changes.