Tour operators monitor Zika virus situation as March Break looms

Tour operators monitor Zika virus situation as March Break looms

TORONTO — At least two major U.S. airlines are offering refunds to passengers worried about the Zika virus outbreak in many tropical countries.

Meanwhile here at home Sunquest has not put out a policy but is allowing pregnant customers to cancel, says TravelBrands CEO Zeina Gedeon.

And Transat Holidays is allowing pregnant women and their families to change their destination or travel dates (up to one year). Spokesperson Debbie Cabana said the company has had a lot of phone calls from agents and passengers asking for information, but only a few requests for itinerary changes. That could change as families with young children and possibly another one on the way gear up for March Break vacations, she added.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Public Health Agency of Canada have warned pregnant women to take precautions against mosquito bites when travelling to areas in Latin America and the Caribbean where there have been Zika outbreaks. The CDC says the mosquito-borne illness could be linked to a birth defect of the brain.

United Airlines customers booked to fly to areas affected by the virus can reschedule or get refunds. American Airlines says it will give refunds to pregnant women who were planning to travel to parts of Central America.

The United Airlines offer includes any country covered by a CDC travel notice, an airline spokesman said. American Airlines began refunds Monday for pregnant passengers holding tickets to El Salvador, Honduras, Panama or Guatemala, according to a spokesman.

A spokesman for Delta Air Lines said the carrier was monitoring the situation but not yet offering waivers. Southwest Airlines said it was sticking to its normal policy, which lets customers who cancel ahead of time reuse the value of their tickets.

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