CHICAGO — Major airlines are relaxing policies around flight change and cancellation fees and stepping up their cleaning efforts as coronavirus continues to spread.
Here’s what to know if you’re thinking about planning a trip:
Change fees waived
JetBlue was the first to announce broad suspensions of fees for changing or canceling flights. The policy covers flights before June 1, booked between Feb. 27 and March 11.
United Airlines is waiving flight change fees for any domestic or international flight purchased between March 3 and 31. No advance notice is required.
American Airlines is waiving change fees on any tickets purchased between March 1 and 16. Passengers must cancel at least 14 days before their flight to avoid the fees.
Delta Air Lines is letting travelers make a one-time change to any international flight booked between March 1 and 31 with no fee.
Travel insurance options
If someone cancels a trip because they’re worried about being exposed to an illness, standard trip cancellation policies rarely will cover those losses.
Travelers can upgrade to policies that let them cancel a trip for any reason, but premiums can be 40% greater than those on standard packages, and they often only cover about 75% of the person’s losses.
Planes get a deep clean
Airlines say their cleaning routines follow guidelines from health officials. Planes get cleaned to varying degrees between flights, but Southwest Airlines, United and Delta all said their aircraft get an end-of-day cleaning that includes wiping hard surfaces with disinfectant.
United said it is “deep cleaning” any aircraft that carried a passenger later diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus. A deep clean, which normally happens every 50 to 55 days, includes washing ceilings and overhead bins and scrubbing the plane’s interiors, said spokesman Charles Hobart.