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Wednesday, 27 January 2016 22:59

U.S. carriers to offer refunds on Zika concerns

All three of the USA's biggest airlines are allowing some customers to cancel or postpone their trips if they’re ticketed to fly to areas affected by Zika. 

American, United and Delta each made the move this week amid rising concerns about the mosquito-borne virus.

United and Delta will allow customers concerned about the Zika virus to cancel or postpone their trips if they’re ticketed to fly to areas affected by Zika. American Airlines also said it would allow certain customers to do the same.

United's policy includes travel to all areas mentioned in a Centers for Disease Control alert. So far, American's covers flights to four destinations in Central America.

“We are offering customers who are traveling to the affected regions the opportunity to rebook at a later date or receive a full refund,” United spokesman Charles Hobart said in a statement to Today in the Sky on Tuesday.

United is basing its exception policy off the guidelines issued by the CDC. Hobart says customers ticketed to regions listed by the CDC should contact the carrier if they have concerns.

“For travelers who feel they’re at risk, we’ll provide them with options,” Hobart added in a follow-up call on Wednesday.

Delta announced a similar policy on Wednesday afternoon, though it said customers must request refunds or make changes by Feb. 29 to avoid fees.

American had not yet posted its Zika policy on its website, though spokesman Ross Feinstein said the carrier decided to implement the policy Monday. To date, American's policy is more specific than the ones in place at United and Delta.

Feinstein said American will allow customers to receive a refund if they provide a doctor's note stating they are unable to travel to one of four cities due pregnancy. The cities included in American's waiver are San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa in Honduras as well as Panama City, Panama, and Guatemala City. Feinstein said American continues to review its policy.

The Zika virus has been in the news since the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a travel warning alert earlier this month warning about the risk of traveling to countries in the Americas affected by the virus. Zika has been linked to an epidemic of birth defects in Brazil and is thought to be spreading to other regions of North and South America.

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