How Will Coronavirus Affect Travel in the U.S. and Abroad? Here's What Major Airlines are Doing


As the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continues to climb around the globe, travelers are wondering where it is and isn’t safe to visit. There are currently no restrictions on travel within the U.S.

“In the United States, there are no travel restrictions that have been put in place on anybody by the federal government or a state government,” Scott Solombrino, executive director of the Global Business Travel Association told NPR on Wednesday. There are also no restrictions on travel to Central and South America.

Still, the three major domestic airlines — Delta, American and United — are figuring out how to serve their customers while keeping them safe. So far they’ve canceled plenty of routes to affected regions, limited flights to others, and made it easier for their passengers to change or cancel their travel plans. Here’s what we know:

Can I cancel or reschedule my flight without a fee?

All three airlines are allowing travelers to waive all flight change or cancellation fees for trips booked in March. Flights booked earlier are not eligible.

United flights booked between March 3 through March 31, American Airlines flights booked from March 5 through March 31, and Delta flights booked between March 1 and the end of the month are all eligible to be changed free of charge.

Internationally, Delta will also be allowing customers to make one-time changes on already purchased flights to Shangai and Bejing, China; Seoul, South Korea; and all locations in Italy through April 30.

Likewise, American Airlines will be waiving fees for changes made on flights to 11 Italian airports, Seoul, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Wuhan, China. United will waive already booked flights to China, Hong Kong, Seoul, and several Italian airports.

In January, all three carriers suspended flights to mainland China where the outbreak originated and has been most deadly. They’ve since limited or eliminated other routes to the worst hit countries.

Where is flight service being reduced or suspended?

United has reduced domestic flights (to the U.S. and Canada)

The airline will no longer be flying from the U.S. to Beijing, Chengdu, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo Narita, Osaka, Singapore or Seoul through April 30.

Delta announced they will be suspending service between the U.S. and Shanghai and Beijing through April 30, as well as a temporary suspension of their daily flight from JFK to Milan Malpensa Airport, which will resume on May 1.

The airline has also reduced service been the U.S. and Seoul as well as the U.S. and several Japanese destinations.

American Airlines has suspended all flights between Milan Malpensa Airport and Miami or New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.

Flights between Dallas-Fort Worth and mainland China, as well as DFW and Hong Kong are suspended through April 24 and 23, respectively. Trips from Los Angeles Airport (LAX) and Hong Kong have also been suspended through April 24.

Operations to and from Seoul from DFW have also been halted through April 25.

As of Thursday morning, there are 162 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States and 11 deaths.

California reported its first coronavirus-related death on Wednesday, and the other 10 have all occurred in Washington state. Cases have been reported in several other states, including New York, Texas, Arizona and Florida.

To prevent the spread of the virus, the CDC encourages maintaining basic forms of hygiene including careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.

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