This week, American Airlines initiated in-flight coronavirus travel restrictions in the hopes of slowing the spread of the virus for those still flying. Meanwhile, Alaska Airlines became yet another company to announce flight reductions in response to the significant drop-off in passengers. Both reactions represent an industry-wide struggle, as airlines continue to provide transport for the remaining flyers and, in some cases, vital supplies despite plummeting revenue.
Due to the Coronavirus, U.S. Travel Continues to Drop
Between coronavirus flight cancellations and travel bans going up around the world, many airlines have been forced to drastically cut capacity. Most have decreased flights by more than half in order to lower costs while servicing the few flyers left.
Alaska Airlines had previously announced that it would reduce flights by 10% in April. However, the rapidly evolving situation has now led the company to further decrease operations – by 70% overall in both April and May.
Related article: Airlines Waive Cancellation Fees Due to Coronavirus
That’s a loss of around 900 flights each day, as the airline typically schedules about 1,300. All this is likely due to the increase in shelter-in-place orders across the country, particularly in states like California, New York, and Washington.
In-Flight Coronavirus Travel Restrictions Put in Place
Despite (and in some ways, due to) the lockdowns being enforced around the U.S., a few travelers continue to brave airport security each day. As a result, American Airlines has announced escalated efforts to protect its passengers. On top of additional cleaning procedures and lounge closures, the airline will now enact the following temporary policies:
- Suspension of Checked Pet Services: Starting on March 25, the airline will temporarily suspend the option to check pets due to frequent schedule changes. This does not affect emotional service animals and carry-on pets.
- Relaxed Seating Policy: When possible, passengers will have the ability to switch seats on board in order to practice social distancing while flying.
- Limited Food and Beverage Services: For additional social distancing, flight attendants will only serve food on flights longer than 2,200 miles (4.5+ hours). Limited drinks will remain available, but only upon request.
These coronavirus travel policies currently expire April 30, though this may change as the situation continues to evolve. American Airlines continues to waive cancellation fees as well. In fact, the airline claims it will even honor changes for certain missed flights if you are unable to get in touch with Reservations. This currently applies to flights scheduled up to April 15, 2020.
Customers can also cancel online and call to re-book later. For example, AAdvantage cardholders are encouraged to log into their accounts for easy access to their flights. You can read more about the policy and other coronavirus updates from American Airlines here.