Airline Travel and the Coronavirus – An Ultimate Guide

Airline Travel and the Coronavirus – An Ultimate Guide

Virus and flying header image

One thing is for certain: due to the coronavirus, your travel will be restricted. Airlines are receiving the brunt of the impact of this virus. They have lost $41 billion in just one month during the outbreak, Markets Insider reported.

But how does that affect you?

You may be thinking: ‘What if I planned a trip? Will it be canceled? If so, how can I reschedule? Will I receive a refund? What if I’m currently abroad? Can I return to my home country?

We’ll address these questions and more as we go over the policy changes of some of the most popular airlines.

United Airlines

Between now and April 30, United Airlines is allowing all customers to change their travel plans. Trump’s travel ban affects 26 countries; for United, these restrictions begin on March 20.

“We will continue to fly our regular schedule from Europe to the U.S. through March 20,” their site states. “After that, we expect to fly daily to Zurich, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Manchester, and Edinburgh, maintain multiple flights to Frankfurt and Munich, and operate 18 daily flights to and from London, three to Dublin and four flights a week to Lisbon, all while continuing to monitor demand.”

Also, United is only accepting calls from those who are flying in three days or 72 hours. Because of the recent outbreak, they are receiving an unmanageable number of calls.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines is less impacted by the virus than United. They announced that they have been working with the CDC and WHO to determine if any flights need to be canceled. But, as of March 11, none of the 103 flight destinations at Southwest are listed as “geographic risks” by the CDC.

Their policy remains the same as it has been: customers are free to cancel or change flights at no additional cost. Also, if you decide to cancel your trip, the money won’t go away. You can use it to fund future flights — a great feature in a precarious time like we’re experiencing today with the disease outbreak!

Southwest ensures the safety of all its passengers by maintaining peak cleanliness in all aircraft. They spend six hours cleaning each aircraft.

As of March 4, they are now using a hospital-grade disinfectant on all areas of the aircraft for optimal sanitation, not just the bathroom.

Delta Airlines

Delta allows you to change your flight plans once for free. If the new price is higher, they require payment of the difference. If it is lower, they will reimburse you, in most cases.

Delta is offering free changes to flight plans of all customers who were planning to go to a country impacted by the virus or the newly instated travel ban.

Like Southwest, Delta allows you to apply current ticket value to future flights. If you’re planning to travel in the future, this is exceptionally convenient because it saves you a lot of money.

Rescheduled travel must take place before December 31, 2020, or prior to the expiration date on your ticket, if it comes sooner than the end of the year.

Delta assures the public that they are working with governmental agencies to determine the next steps in the prevention process. They are cleaning all aircraft thoroughly to mitigate the spread of this highly infectious virus.

American Airlines

American Airlines ensures its customers that they are complying with all facets of the recent travel ban imposed by President Trump. Read the two bullet points here which outline the policy.

American points out that the travel ban goes into effect on March 13. The travel ban applies to all flights that depart from American Airlines airports after March 13 at 11:59 PM.

Customers who visited the “Schengen Area” or a specific selection of European countries within the last 14 days, must return to the US through approved airports only. This also applies to people who have visited mainland China or Iran.

The travel ban only applies to non-Americans. Non-Americans won’t be able to travel to America until April 13.

Alaska Airlines

Similar to Southwest, Alaska Airlines’ flights have not been impacted by the disease’s spread of or President Trump’s travel ban. They assure customers that they are in close contact with the CDC, WHO, and other governmental organizations to stay up to date with any changes in travel regulations as a result of the growing virus.

Per Alaska’s policy, they are offering free changes or cancellations on travel booked between February 26 and April 30. They follow the same policy for new tickets purchased between February 27 and March 31.

The aircraft at Alaska Airlines feature high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters which keep the air pristine during your entire flight. They have a quick, informative video on how the filters work. Check it out below.

A Quick Note

This review of the major airlines’ policies and procedures during the outbreak is not extensive. It’s merely meant to keep you informed and give you easy access to an extensive article with all the useful information packed in one place for your convenience.

All information about specific airlines was researched on the airlines’ websites. Every airline also has a FAQ page that they have taken extra care to update during the virus outbreak. So, if you have any questions, refer to the website and FAQ pages of your corresponding airline.

Travelers, what does this mean for you?

Easier to Upgrade First Class

This may be self-explanatory, but with the travel ban in place and a global pandemic looming, fewer people will travel. Most will stay home and limit their contact with others, which is recommended by the CDC.

But, if you do choose to travel, you may have the opportunity to easily and cheaply upgrade to first-class seating. One easy way to upgrade to first class is to simply ask the flight attendant if they have any seats available. If they do, most airlines will allow you to sit first class. And this is even easier now with much less travel.

Keep in mind that you may not be the only one with this idea. In fact, it could happen that the first-class section is full and you’d have to sit in the economy section. But it never hurts to ask; the worst-case scenario is they’ll say no.

Difficult — and At Times Impossible — to Book Flights

You probably know this now from reading the individual sections on the popular airlines, but depending on who you are and where you are trying to go, you may not be able to book your flight until the travel ban passes or the outbreak subsides.

Most airlines have suspended flights to countries impacted by the outbreak, such as Germany, China, Italy, France, and several more.

Also, I’ll reiterate this again, because it is important: if you are a non-American, you cannot travel from Europe to the US until April 13.

Cancellations

Along with not being able to book several flights, you may have to cancel your current flight. If you had plans to travel to a country impacted by the disease outbreak, or if you are a non-American who had tickets to travel to America, those flights are now canceled.

All of the major airlines have policies in place that allow you to change or cancel your flight for free. If you decide to cancel, some airlines allow the ticket cost to carry over to future flights, ensuring that you don’t lose the money you initially spent on your tickets.

So, just work with your airline here. Give them a call and be patient, because they are likely receiving hundreds or even thousands of calls a day due to the recent virus outbreak.

Take Sanitary Precautions

You’ve probably seen this everywhere and you’ll see it more: wash your hands with soap. Soap breaks down the virus and kills it. This will keep you healthy and prevent it from spreading. This is especially important given that the coronavirus has a high infection rate.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizer also works great to kill germs, but you’ll have a lot of difficulties finding that in stores or online. Most of it is sold out or price gouged. Thankfully it’s not necessary and you can stick to hand washing.

Also, wipe down surfaces around your home or places that may harbor a lot of germs such as keyboards, doorknobs, floors, and bathrooms.

Minimize Travel

One of the most effective things you can do to mitigate the spread of the virus is to minimize travel. This won’t be hard given the travel ban and extensive airline cancellations recently put in place. But, this doesn’t mean just airline travel. Try to stay in your home and away from others as much as possible. This means postponing your walks in your neighborhood, your trips to the mall, or other errands you may need to get done.

Some workplaces have closed the office and gone remote, along with schools and universities across the country. Digital technology will be your best friend as the WHO and CDC continue to combat the spread of the coronavirus and work toward a viable cure.

Be prepared to contract the coronavirus.

It’s important for you to mentally prepare yourself for the possibility that you may contract the coronavirus. If this occurs, you should operate under strict quarantine and limit contact with anyone as much as possible. 

Facemasks are not effective to prevent you from obtaining the virus since its particles are so small. They will either pass through the fabric in the mask or travel through the small opening between your mask and your skin.

However, they can be an effective measure toward containing the spread of the virus if you have it, mainly to prevent the spread of droplets produced by coughing or sneezing that contain the coronavirus.

A man posted a video on YouTube of his story contracting this disease, how he endured the process and some of the symptoms he experienced. Take a look below.

More on the Coronavirus

The coronavirus has been dominating the media for several weeks. The first case was reported on December 8 in Wuhan, China, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Since then, it has spread to 149 countries (as of the date this article was published).

Most of the cases are mild — over 80% in fact (Note: This data is updated in real-time). The WHO announced a 3.4% mortality rate for the disease on March 3. The highest at-risk groups are those over 60 and those with compromised or weakened immune systems.

China has been able to contain the virus, with over 80% of its affected population now recovered, but it could not be contained. The WHO declared the virus a pandemic on March 11, 2019.

Countries around the world are scrambling to combat the virus. China took the most drastic measures, banning public gatherings and confining people to their homes. They even rewarded citizens for reporting any violations of their quarantine orders, according to NPR.

The virus was declared “contained” in China after three consecutive days of no new cases outside the Hubei province by President Xingping.

Italy has also banned public gatherings and suspended sporting events until April 3, NPR reported. Iran, Spain, France, and Germany also banned public gatherings of varying sizes, among other measures.

Now with over 2000 cases, the USA has begun to take drastic measures to curb the spread of the virus. Most recently, President Trump declared a national emergency, granting Congress $50 billion to devote to virus prevention and containment.

Also, the diagnosis of a professional basketball player led to a domino effect of drastic measures. Several professional sports leagues suspended their regular season: the NBA, MLB, and the NHL. The college sports league, the NCAA, also canceled all of its outside competition. 

So, what can you do?

The most important thing to do is to mitigate the spread of the virus. The most common transmission method is person-to-person. If you make contact with a contaminated person or surface and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, this will increase your risk of contracting the sickness. To combat this, wash your hands frequently.

The CDC also recommends that people keep their distance from one another — to help enforce this, travel has been restricted across the world. Just one example is the travel ban below.

 

It is also a very good idea to strengthen your body’s own defenses by eating lots of nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables and eliminating as many processed foods as possible.  Get plenty of sleep and try to take time to create space to meditate or do other activities that invigorate you. Maybe take a couple of days off from news and social media.

Good luck in quarantine and stay safe!

Recap

That concludes our ultimate guide to airline travel and the coronavirus. Remember that the coronavirus is the most highly mentioned disease ever. We’ve had over two billion mentions in the media as of March 22, 2020, and HIV comes in at second at just 69.5 million.

With so much content to sort through, stick to the reputable governmental health organizations: the WHO and the CDC. Follow their social media and visit their website for frequent updates on the latest about this global pandemic.

Good luck with rescheduling your travel plans. If you bought tickets with an airline that’s not on this list, don’t worry. The airline’s website will have updated information on the outbreak and how it impacts your travel, along with some helpful FAQs.

For some more helpful information on the virus itself, click here.

Thanks for reading — and don’t forget to wash your hands!

Essential Guide to Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)

Essential Guide to Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)

Beijing International Airport - PEK

China is becoming not only a business hub for foreign investment but also a tourist destination. If you are traveling to the capital city of Beijing, China, consider using the Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK). 

Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), is the capital’s main airport. It is also the second busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger numbers, serving over 90 million passengers. In terms of cargo traffic, it comes in at number 13. 

In total, the airport has three terminals. While terminals 1 and 2 are not as modern as such, terminal 3 is a masterpiece of the architecture industry. Terminal 3 is also the second-largest terminal by size and the sixth-largest building in the world. In 2017, it ranked second in the busiest airport terminals in the world. 

It can be easy to get overwhelmed in a busy airport like the PEK. But it should not discourage you from using the airport for your next trip.

To make it easier for you, we have compiled the ultimate guide to get you moving comfortably through the airport. The guide will show you how to get to and from the airport. It will also show you the available lounges for you to relax, the shops for those souvenirs, as well as the transport modes within the airport.   

Location – How to get to PEK and leave

PEK is located in Chaoyang District, 32 km northeast of the city center. 

One way to get to and from the PEK is by taking a cab. There are four express tollways to get to the airport, with two of the roads running directly from the airport to northeastern Beijing.

To get to and from terminals 1 and 2, you can use the Airport Expressway or the Northern Airport Expressway. You can access Terminal 3 through the 2nd Airport Expressway.

It is vital to have the details of your destination printed out in Chinese in case you get a cab driver who does not speak the English language. 

The second mode of transport to and from the airport is through rail. Capital Airport Express operates as part of the Beijing subway and runs through terminal 2 and 3 to the city. A one-way trip will take around 16 to 20 minutes.   

Alternatively, there are airport buses available that serve various routes within the city and the three terminals. However, these buses do not accept cash. You’ll need a paper ticket to use the bus.

These tickets are available on the first floor of every terminal and various stops within the city. Some of the cities where you can catch these buses include Baoding, Tianjin, Tangshan, and Langfang. 

Car rentals are also available at the PEK airport. You can purchase a car rental at the entrances of Terminal 2 and 3, where rental desks are located. If you are using terminal 1, the car rental desks are accessible at the information desks on the first floor, between Gate 1 and 3.

For movements within the airport, you can use the shuttle. The shuttle buses operate 24/7. From 6 am to 11 pm, they arrive every ten minutes, and from 11 pm to 6 am, they arrive every 30 minutes. 

Benefits of Traveling via PEK

For starters, the airport operates 24/7, making it accessible at any time of the day. Also, some shops and lounges run throughout the day. It’s easy for you to get rest if you’re feeling tired; on the contrary, you can check out some cool souvenirs and shop while you await your flight.

The airport is also strategically placed, at 32 kilometers from the city center., There are several options to get you to and from the city center in time.

Another benefit of traveling via PEK is the chance to experience the Chinese culture, without leaving the airport. There are tea shops, artistic shops, and spas to check out within the airport. 

Things to Do and See at the PEK Airport

While here, one of the things to do is to enjoy the array of shopping options at your disposal. Get all those souvenirs needed back home from the many shops. Also, don’t forget to sample the local cuisine. 

For passengers using Terminal 3 who have a few hours to kill before their flight, the garden is excellent for you to sit back and unwind. The garden has fishponds, and you can feed the fish between 9 am and 3 pm when the airport security is around with fish food. 

If your layover takes almost a whole day, then take this opportunity and explore the city of Beijing.

Alternatively, you can stay within the airport’s vicinity and break a sweat. At the Hilton Beijing Airport Hotel, you can pay to use their fitness center, the spa, or even their heated swimming pool. The good thing is that there is a service shuttle that runs between the airport and the hotel 24/7. So, you shouldn’t have trouble making your flight as long as you keep track of the time.

Parking Information 

Parking services are available in all three terminals. In case you forget where you parked, no need to worry. Garage 2 and 3 offer finding services 24/7. The airport also has wheelchair parking near Terminal 1 at Garage 5.

Airport Hours of Operation 

The airport is operational 24/7. For transport within the airport, the shuttle buses operate 24/7. 

Airlines that Operate at PEK

PEK is the hub for Air China, Hainan Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines. It also serves many other airlines, both domestic and international. Below are some of the major passenger airlines that operate at PEK:

  • Air Canada
  • Air France 
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Delta Air Lines
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways 
  • Qatar Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • KLM
  • Swiss International Air Line

Shops & Restaurants

The PEK airport shops and restaurants are not to disappoint, especially for anyone looking to experience the Chinese culture. But this is not the only culture to experience here since you can enjoy fast foods, formal dishes, and western dishes as well as something for your sweet tooth. There are a total of 72 stores for you to choose from!

Apart from enjoying the array of cuisines, the airport also has a commercial area where there are banks, internet services, forex bureaus, book stores, nursing rooms, free charging powers, and dressing rooms in all the three terminals — and these aren’t the only amenities.   

Lounges

The Beijing International Airport is not one to disappoint if you are looking for a place to relax. While waiting for your flight, then the below lounges are at your disposal:

BGS Premier Lounge

This lounge is inside Terminal 2 and 3, past the security..

The lounge at Terminal 2 charges $29 per traveler while the one at Terminal 3 charges $44 per traveler. 

The lounge at Terminal 2 is open from 5 am to 2 am every day of the week. The lounge at Terminal 3 has varying hours of operation. From Monday to Wednesday and on Saturdays, it is open 24/7. On Thursdays and Fridays, it is open from 12 am to 2 am and from 5 am to 12 am. 

With both, you will get two hours of access. The lounges offer free WiFi, showers, snacks, premium food, and drinks. From here, you can relax and still keep tabs on your flight using their flight monitors.

ICBC VIP Lounge

It is located inside Terminal 1 past security. It is open from 6 am to 10 pm throughout the week. Some of the complimentary amenities include snacks, TVs, internet terminals, and WiFi.

BCAT Lounge

For anyone who is connecting flights and has a couple of hours to kill, the BCAT Lounge is ideal. It’s a great place to get some shuteye. You will pay an additional cost at the front desk, but this gives you at least 19 hours of access to their private nap rooms! It’s located inside the security of Terminal 3E and is open 24/7. Unfortunately, it is only accessible to international passengers using Terminal 3E.

Complementaries include flight monitors, WiFi, premium food, TVs, and snacks.    

Other Services

The airport has free WiFi available to all passengers. If you have a Chinese mobile number, you will receive a user ID and password via a text. If you don’t, you can ask for the user ID and password from the information desks or scan your passport at the self-service machines.

Alternatively, get yourself a portable WiFi router, which is especially convenient if you are staying in China for a while. It can even be delivered at the airport in case you left home without one.

In Conclusion

If you are planning a trip to China, then Beijing International Airport is an excellent airport to choose from. From here, you have access to the city center and other stops in the city using cabs or bus shuttles and you can also experience some of the famous Chinese cuisines right from the airport.

There are free WiFi and a commerce center, which makes it possible for you to catch up with your loved ones or business deals.

You’re sure to enjoy this airport. What are you waiting for? Go plan a trip!