Coronavirus: Current Travel Advice and Information
The amount of COVID-19 cases has continued to increase around the world and the World Health Organization has declared it a pandemic — pan-demic does NOT call for pan-ic though — but it does mean that us pirates need to take some new things into consideration. Our travel plans through April will likely be impacted and for 15 days from March 17th, we've all been advised to self-isolate as much as possible. To put it more clearly, the TravelPirates are working from home during this time period, and we think you should too whenever possible.
We're optimistic that we'll be able to travel in the near future, so we're still publishing all the hottest travel deals on the internet for you — you'll find that pretty much all of them offer flexible changes or cancellation. While most of us are at home, we'll also be offering hot deals to keep you occupied while travel isn't an option.
Latest Cancellation/Change Policies for US-based Airlines
|jetBlue Airways||All Change and cancel fees for booking made before March 31st on travel through September 8th are waived.|
|American Airlines||One-time free change on bookings made before March 31st for travel through January 30th, 2021. Free cancellation or changes on bookings involving any of their travel alerts.|
|Southwest Airlines||Changes/cancellations are already free on all Southwest bookings, but there may more to come to this policy soon.|
|United Airlines||United is offering free changes on bookings and giving credit for later use in most cases. Award flights may still incur cancellation fees but it's always worth HUCA if you can get through.|
|Frontier Airlines||Cancel or change online for free for travel through April 30th.|
|Alaska Airlines||Alaska is offering refunds in the form of travel vouchers and free changes on most bookings.|
|Hawaiian Airlines||Hawaiian is offering travel waivers for customers booked on flights between March 1st and April 30th if booked before March 9th. Tickets booked between March 1st and March 31st can be changed to a future date for free.|
|Spirit||Customers can receive a travel credit valid for booking any flights within 6 months|
|Delta Airlines||Delta is waiving change fees for tickets purchased in March and travel in March and April.|
Advice regarding immediate travel
Right now we're seeing frequent changes in global and domestic policy, you'll find the most up-to-date information on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and the Department of State website. There is currently a Level 4 Global Health Advisory, which calls for avoiding all international travel. The US government has requested that precautions are taken through at least April 1st, 2020 — as a result we will post deals for travel in the second half of the year and will also increase our focus on offering pirates great deals that can make their time at home more enjoyable. For the time being TravelPirates are working from home, and we urge you to do the same whenever possible.
We've also found this site with live updates on where the virus has spread and the number of cases reported to be very helpful.
What is the coronavirus exactly?
Coronaviruses are a strain of viruses that are transmitted from animals to people. The current virus is a novel coronavirus (nCoV) meaning that it is a new strain called COVID-19. The first case was reported in Wuhan, China in December, 2019. The virus affects the lungs and respiratory systems and symptoms include fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Other symptons may also include headaches, a runny nose, a sore throat, and diarrhea. Many infected people don't develop any symptoms, which makes tracking the spread of the virus more difficult.
There is currently no vaccination or medication available for COVID-19. Nevertheless, current data suggests that one in six people will get seriously ill. Those most affected are older people and those with pre-existing conditions, some examples being diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart issues. Many of those infected will be able to stay at home until the infection is over but those who develop serious symptoms may require hospital care.
The World Health Organization (WHO) provides frequent, up-to-date information and resources on Covid-19 — so if you're still looking for answers, we recommend giving there site a read through.
Should I be worried?
The honest answer is no, but it depends. As of now, antibiotics are of no use, and the drugs we have to fight the flu will not work... but don't let that scare you. Like any virus, the majority of fatalities occur to people who are already in poor health conditions. The average, healthy individual shouldn't be concerned — especially if you haven't traveled to any affected countries recently, are out of contact with anyone who has been infected, and practice good hygiene regimens such as washing your hands, staying home, and covering your mouth when coughing.
It's also important to note that although this virus isn't something to ignore, over 50,000 cases have now been marked "closed" meaning people who previously were affected are now recovered and virus-free.
How will this impact travel? What can I do if my vacation plans are affected?
If you have any in-the-near-future trips already planned to affected destinations, we suggest contacting your airline, hotel or tour company for advice on what steps you can take in receiving a refund or vouchers for alternative trips.
For trips scheduled in the more distant future... we recommend using your best judgement before cancelling or making changes in your plans. As the virus has continuously shifted each day, it's hard to predict how long it will be alive and active and when/where travel precautions will return to normal.
What precautions could I take to lower my risk of getting the virus?
Although there isn't a lot you can do to prevent airborne viruses, practicing good hygiene will certainly help decrease the risk. Most importantly wash your hands with soap and water frequently and avoid contact with people who are sick.