While the Covid-19 continues to spread, concerns are growing over whether or not travel should be canceled or postponed. Though there are ways to protect yourself against illness like washing your hands and disinfecting spaces, some people may be wondering if it's enough. Not only is the status constantly changing with the virus popping up in every continent except Antarctica, it's hard to know what the next few months or even weeks will look like.
Although airport screenings for coronavirus are in place, there are restrictions that vary from country to country (the International Air Transport Association has a detailed list of these restrictions). Meanwhile, some of the busiest airports in the world have implemented extra precautions including separate gates and extra screenings.
Should you cancel your travel?
This can be answered depending on where you are going and how essential it is. At time of writing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's list of travel recommendations related to Covid-19 includes avoiding nonessential travel to China and South Korea while enhanced precautions are recommended for Italy, Iran, and Japan.
If you are scheduled to travel to any of these regions with enhanced precautions, contact your airline to see what options you might have. You may be able to get a full refund if you are scheduled to travel to a destination that has had an outbreak. This does vary by airline and by region, though.
Additionally, American, Delta, and United are not flying into China and now offer travel waivers for South Korea and Italy. Air France is allowing people traveling to Italy or China to reschedule flights.
British Airways has canceled flights to select places while Hawaiian Airlines has suspended their flights to South Korea. Lufthansa has canceled flights to China and is reducing some of their other flights.
Finally, ask yourself how important the trip really is and if travel is necessary. Is the trip essential or can it be done by other means? Perhaps it can be done virtually or via teleconference. Alternatively, if it can wait until later in the year, consider rescheduling.
If you are worried about the virus but aren't traveling to a place with a confirmed outbreak, there's a good chance you will not be able to get a refund. Unless you purchased a travel insurance plan that lets you cancel for any reason, you may not have many options.
However, because of the constantly changing situation, it's best to contact airlines, hotels, insurance companies, and even your credit card if you used it to purchase travel in order to see what can be done. If you have a weak immune system, you may try explaining your concerns.
If you can't get a refund, ask for a credit to travel at a later date. Or, if you are concerned about going somewhere that is close to the affected areas, ask if you can change your destination and either pay the difference or pay any fees for the change.
Stay up to date
If you will be traveling later in the year to an area that hasn't been restricted, it's important to stay up to date on what is happening in the region. Follow official organizations like the World Health Organization and the U.S. State Department to keep track of the latest.
Consider the possibility of contact and quarantine
When you travel, you run the risk of coming into contact with someone who has been to an affected area (or a newly affected area with travel restrictions, like Italy). Can you afford to be quarantined? Consider whether or not the business travel is crucial enough that you run that risk.
If you do decide that it is worth the risk, pack extra clothing and medication. Since people are being monitored for two weeks, it is suggested that you bring enough of your essentials for two extra weeks.
Be prepared for disruptions
Regardless of whether you travel internationally or to the closest major city to you, it seems that we can only expect disruptions and delays in travel. With additional screenings and flights being moved around, give yourself extra time.
If you need to travel, it is worth it to buy travel insurance that allows you to cancel for any reason. Purchase airfare and hotel stays that are refundable. Check policies and try to get everything in writing.
Some airlines are working to boost confidence. Though JetBlue doesn't fly to the affected areas, they are waiving change and cancellation fees for bookings in order to encourage travel. Alaska Air is also waiving those fees.
As Covid-19 spreads, the travel industry is having to update and amend their policies. If you are traveling, it is recommended that you get the flu shot, practice good hygeniene, and keep clear of those who are ill.