As the coronavirus continues to spread, airlines are doing what they can to reduce its transmission. Tactics include everything from Delta "fogging" planes to United reducing both international and domestic travel schedules, as it announced last week. But at Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport, a representative says things are, for now, very much "business as usual."
"We're coordinating with the Northern Kentucky Health Department to monitor the situation, but we haven't seen the impacts as of yet," spokesman Seth Cutter tells WVXU.
So far United is the only airline to have announced a reduced domestic travel schedule – by 20% across the nation – and Cutter says CVG doesn't have any specifics yet on how that may affect the carrier's CVG flights, nor has he heard of any reductions from other carriers.
Still, Cincinnati-based travel agent Bobbie Murphy says she has had clients pull out of planned trips. "It's definitely impacted my business in various ways," she says. "Last Friday some folks decided to cancel a July cruise already."
If You're Considering Postponing Travel
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a "warning list" of places not to travel – all of them international – and of course, the virus is now in the U.S. (As of publication, Ohio has no reported cases of coronavirus, while Kentucky and Indiana confirmed 2 cases of COVID-19 on Friday.) But a biostatistician at Emory University in Atlanta tells NPR the air on airplanes is "actually pretty clean. It gets recirculated through these HEPA filters that really are very good at clearing stuff out."
Murphy says most travel companies are understanding in accommodating such requests at this delicate moment. "Each company is coming out with its own plan of how to handle the uncertainty," she says. "The cruise industry has really stepped up in allowing everyone to have flexibility – some up to 48 hours before – of changing their trip."
Similarly, many airlines are temporarily forgoing change fees.
Murphy recommends checking with the company you booked with to see what their policy is – but be advised, you may face a long wait for an answer. Murphy herself waited on hold for a "half an hour, 45 minutes" with Expedia the day she spoke to WVXU.
She says many companies have their policies posted on their websites. Some travel agents may even be willing to help even if you didn't make a travel reservation through them, she adds.
What If A Travel Company Reschedules For You?
If an airline is operating a reduced flight schedule, you may receive a call or email about a change of travel plans. "If you're unsatisfied, call and either cancel it, ask for reimbursement, or request a different itinerary," Murphy says. "That's always within your right. They're not obligated to do that, but this is unusual circumstances."
Murphy, however, maintains that such changes may be a blessing in disguise.
"I have a client Delta called to change her flight to now have a stopover in Sydney (Australia)," she shares. "She's considering it an opportunity to see Sydney."