TORONTO — WestJet and Air Canada have followed in the footsteps of several major U.S. carriers and released new policies for passengers impacted by the Zika virus scare.
WestJet says any passenger can change or cancel a booking prior to travelling to infected areas. Refunds will be in the form of future travel credit. No medical notes are required, said spokeswoman Lauren Stewart. “We are not going to ask someone to prove they are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant.”
Air Canada spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said the airline is continuing to monitor the situation. “We have had only a very small number of inquiries,” he added.
Air Canada’s policy applies to women (and their travel companions) who have obtained a note from a health care professional, and who were originally scheduled to travel between Jan. 28 and June 30, 2016 on a flight operated by Air Canada with an Air Canada ticket issued no later than Jan. 26, 2016 for travel to Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, D.R., Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint-Martin, Suriname, U.S. Virgin Islands or Venezuela.
Affected passengers can change their flight free of charge to another date within the validity period of their ticket. Changes are subject to availability in the fare family originally purchased (otherwise any fare difference will apply).
Passengers can also change their destination and any change fees will be waived, provided they are travelling within the validity period of your ticket. Fare differences apply. Or, passengers can request a refund without penalty.
Sunwing Vacations says if provided with a doctor’s note it would consider accommodating customer requests for changes.
Air Transat is allowing pregnant women and their families to change their destination or travel dates (up to one year), with a medical note.
U.S.-based carriers including United Airlines and American Airlines recently announced they will give refunds to passengers concerned about the virus, believed capable of causing serious birth defects.
The Public Health Agency of Canada has warned pregnant women to take precautions against mosquito bites when travelling to areas in Central and South America where there have been Zika outbreaks.
Since Zika became endemic in Brazil last year, about 4,000 infants have been born with small heads and underdeveloped brains, a condition know as microcephaly.
Meanwhile USA Today is reporting that several major cruise lines are offering the option to switch, cancel or postpone sailings, including Carnival, NCL and Royal Caribbean.