'This is just so anti-consumer': Southwest early-boarding fee policy reversed after coronavirus backlash


Robert Lawson was supposed to visit his son and newborn granddaughter in Las Vegas in late March but canceled his flight a couple weeks ago when the coronavirus spread “got real hairy.”

Southwest Airlines quickly put the frequent flyer points he used for the round-trip ticket back into his account. 

What the Denver criminal investigator hasn’t gotten back, even in the form of a credit: the $40 in fees he paid for Southwest’s popular early boarding option, EarlyBird Check-In. The fee, which costs $15-$25 per person each way, gives travelers a better boarding position on Southwest, which doesn’t assign seats.

“They just point blank said, ‘No, you’re not getting it back.”’ 

Southwest’s longstanding no-refund policy for EarlyBird fees unless the airline cancels your flight left Lawson and scores of other Southwest passengers fuming during the coronavirus crisis, and is more stringent than many of its competitors. The airline’s online forum is filled with complaints about EarlyBird refunds and travelers are also complaining on Twitter and Facebook.

The gripe: Passengers who proactively canceled their flights and have no clue when they will fly again given the global health crisis — something happening in numbers so big airline call centers have been overwhelmed for weeks — should receive their EarlyBird money back too, or at least a travel credit, as they do for the airfare portion of their ticket. 

GALLERY: Deserted iconic landmarks

Slide 1 of 40: A cyclist rides across the water remaining in the Reflecting Pool which has been drained for maintenance in Washington, DC on March 26, 2020.
Slide 2 of 40: The empty Champs-Elysees Avenue and the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, at night on March 24, 2020, on the eighth day of a lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus in France.
Slide 3 of 40: Egyptian municipality workers disinfect the Giza pyramids necropolis on the southwestern outskirts of the Egyptian capital Cairo on March 25, 2020 as protective a measure against the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19.
Slide 4 of 40: Greek military helicopters fly over the Acropolis on Greece's Independence Day, in Athens on Wednesday, March 25, 2020. The annual military parade commemorates Greek Independence Day, which marks the start of the war of independence in 1821 against the 400-year Ottoman rule, was cancelled on Wednesday amid a circulation ban imposed to slow the spread of the COVID-19 but a flyover with jets and helicopters took place.

Slide 5 of 40: An almost empty Westminster Bridge normally a very busy river crossing as the sun rises in London, March 24, 2020. Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday imposed its most draconian peacetime restrictions due to the spread of the coronavirus on businesses and gatherings, health workers begged for more gear, saying they felt like "cannon fodder."
Slide 6 of 40: A cyclist rides past Buckingham Palace in central London on the morning on March 24, 2020 after Britain ordered a lockdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Slide 7 of 40: Street performer Eddie Webb looks around the nearly deserted French Quarter looking to make money in New Orleans, March 22, 2020. With much of the city already hunkered down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards issues a shelter-in-place order to take effect starting March 23, 2020 at 5:00 PM.
Slide 8 of 40: A jogger wears a mask as he runs along Millenium Bridge in London on the morning on March 24, 2020 after Britain ordered a lockdown to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Slide 9 of 40: As the coronavirus pandemic spreads around the world, some of the most iconic tourist destinations are closing or remain deserted.  Here, a man walks on the deserted Trocadero square in front of the Eiffel Tower on March 21, 2020 in Paris on the fifth day of a strict nationwide lockdown seeking to halt the spread of the COVID-19 infection caused by novel coronavirus

Slide 10 of 40: A security guard patrols with his dog near the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel int Jardin des Tuileries garden on March 21, 2020 in Paris on the fifth day of a strict nationwide lockdown seeking to halt the spread of COVID-19.
Slide 11 of 40: French Gendarmes patrol the beach of Porticcio on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica on March 21, 2020, closed to the public as a strict lockdown comes into in effect in France to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Slide 12 of 40: A general view of Trafalgar Square on March 21, 2020 in London, England. Londoners are feeling the impact of shutdowns due to Coronavirus.
Slide 13 of 40: A Chinese tourist wears a protective mask as she visit the almost empty Badaling Great Wall on March 24, 2020 in Beijing, China. Affected by the new coronavirus covid-19, the Badaling Great Wall closed on Jan. 25.
Slide 14 of 40: The Rotunda of the US Capitol empty is seen in Washington, DC on March 19, 2020.

Slide 15 of 40: The intersection at 42nd St. & 7th Ave. in the Times Square area of New York City is almost completely free of people on March 19, 2020.
Slide 16 of 40: A few tourists walk along Circular Quay in Sydney near the Sydney Opera House on March 20, 2020, after Australia moved to seal off its borders the day before, announcing unprecedented bans on entry for non-residents in the hope of stemming the rise of COVID-19 coronavirus infections.
Slide 17 of 40: The streets surrounding the castle are quieter than usual at Windsor Castle on March 19, 2020 in Windsor, England.
Slide 18 of 40: Security guards patrol around closed Stonehenge on March 20, 2020 in Amesbury, United Kingdom. English Heritage, which manages the site said, Our first priority is the health and wellbeing of all visitors, volunteers and staff, and we hope you can understand why we have taken this unprecedented step," it said. "We appreciate this is a very important time for druids, pagans and other spiritual people and hope you will still be able to celebrate the spring equinox in your own special way. English Heritage said it would "continue to plan for the summer solstice in the hope it will still take place".
Slide 19 of 40: A low number of tourists are seen at Taj Mahal amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, in Agra on March 16, 2020.
Slide 20 of 40: A tourist wearing a respiratory mask walks past the closed Colosseum in Rome, Italy on March 10, 2020.
Slide 21 of 40: A tourist wearing a protective facemask takes a picture with her phone in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, on March 17, 2020, a few hours before the order to stay home for all French citizens goes into effect.
Slide 22 of 40: Even for a typically slow Sunday afternoon Grand Central Terminal in New York City was quieter than usual March 15, 2020 as Coronavirus concerns kept travelers and tourists off the streets and away from popular destinations in the city.
Slide 23 of 40: The Louvre Museum stands empty on March 15, 2020 in Paris, France.
Slide 24 of 40: The Oculus transportation hub in Lower Manhattan is mostly devoid of commuters and tourists on March 15, 2020 in New York City.
Slide 25 of 40: Tourists stand at an overlook by the (L to R) Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops), Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren), and Pyramid of Menkaure (Menkheres) at the Giza pyramids necropolis on the southwestern outskirts of the Egyptian capital on March 13, 2020.
Slide 26 of 40: A police vehicle and security guard man the entrance to a closed Santa Monica Pier, one of the most popular tourist attractions in southern California on March 16, 2020 in Santa Monica, Calif.
Slide 27 of 40: A man wearing a mask walks by the Spanish Steps at a deserted Piazza di Spagna in central Rome, Italy on March 12, 2020.
Slide 28 of 40: Aida Cruz, left, and Jose Chavez, take photos at the Space Needle, March 13, 2020, in Seattle. The two were visiting from San Antonio, Texas and had planned to take the elevator up the Needle for a view of the city, but they discovered that the iconic landmark and tourist attraction had closed Friday and will remain shuttered through the end of March.
Slide 29 of 40: The Pike Place Market stands virtually empty of patrons on March 10, 2020 in downtown Seattle, Washington. The historic farmer's market is Seattle's most popular tourist attraction.
Slide 30 of 40: The East Plaza of the Capitol is seen early March 13, 2020, in Washington, after the complex was shut down to tourists and non-essential visitors.
Slide 31 of 40: A tourist looks at the nearly deserted Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site, after Israel has imposed some of the world's tightest restrictions to contain COVID-19 coronavirus disease, in Jerusalem on March 12, 2020.
Slide 32 of 40: Muslim worshippers circle the sacred Kaaba in Mecca's Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest site, on March 13, 2020.
Slide 33 of 40: Few people are seen at San Francisco's popular Fisherman's Wharf tourist destination on March 12, 2020 in San Francisco, Calif.
Slide 34 of 40: A father adjusts his son's mask between the Queen Victoria Memorial and Buckingham Palace in London on March 14, 2020.
Slide 35 of 40: A tourist stands outside the Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, March 13, 2020. The basilica closed its doors to visitors and suspended construction on March 13.
Slide 36 of 40: Tourists pose for photos on the Brooklyn Bridge, March 16, 2020 in New York. The bridge's pedestrian and bicycle path is normally crowded on a sunny day.
Slide 37 of 40: A general view taken on March 11, 2020 shows a woman walking across deserted St. Mark's Square and its basilica in Venice.
Slide 38 of 40: A general view of the empty Vatican's St. Peter's Square and its main basilica on March 15, 2020 days after its closure to tourists as part of a wider crackdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
Slide 39 of 40: Soldiers wearing protective face masks march past the closed entrance gates to the Forbidden City, usually crowded with tourists before the new coronavirus outbreak in Beijing, March 12, 2020.
Slide 40 of 40: A food truck vendor pushes his cart down an empty street near Times Square in New York, on March 15, 2020.

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads around the world, some of the most iconic tourist destinations are closing or remain deserted.

Here, a man walks on the deserted Trocadero square in front of the Eiffel Tower on March 21, 2020 in Paris on the fifth day of a strict nationwide lockdown seeking to halt the spread of the COVID-19 infection caused by novel coronavirus

Despite the rancor, Southwest wasn’t budging on the policy as recently as Thursday morning. But by Thursday afternoon, officials announced a temporary change to customer service representatives.

The new policy: passengers with travel dates between March 1 and May 31 who cancel their reservations can request a credit for EarlyBird fees paid. It will be a voucher good for one year that can be used for a future flight.

The voucher will be issued for all the EarlyBird fees paid on the same reservation so families and other groups get one voucher and not travel funds in each passengers’ nam

es, as happens with airfare credit. The voucher cannot be used in the future for EarlyBird fees, though. 

“The Southwest team prides itself on the hospitality we offer and our willingness to look at issues on a case-by-case basis to assist our customers,” Southwest spokesman Brian Parrish said in a statement. “We hope this new exception provides more flexibility for our customers who purchased EarlyBird but choose not to travel during these dynamic times. We look forward to welcoming each customer onboard another Southwest flight one day very soon.”

The policy applies to travelers who already canceled flights, like Lawson, and were told no refund, as well as those canceling future flights for travel through May 31. 

To receive a voucher, travelers need to call Southwest reservations or customer relations or email the airline.

Travelers with tickets for dat

es beyond May 31 will be subject to the no-refund policy unless Southwest extends the temporary policy, or the airline cancels their flight. 

Southwest’s policy is still more stringent than the fee-refund policies at some of the airline’s competitors because it is only offering a voucher, while several other airlines are giving travelers their money back for prepaid fees, even if they are only receiving a travel credit for their flights.

American Airlines, for example, is refunding prepaid seat fees and any other ancillary charges for passengers who cancel flights scheduled through May 31, according to spokesman Ross Feinstein. Passengers have to request the refund on American’s website. 

United has also been refunding seat fees and any prepaid fees for passengers with flights through May 31, too, spokeswoman Nicole Carrieresaid. 

Delta is offering fee refunds, too, for travelers who cancel any upcoming trips, spokesman Drake Castaneda said.

Allegiant Air, which built a business around offering bargain ticket prices with a lineup of additional fees for extras, including an advance seat assignment, says travelers who cancel their flights receive a credit for the full amount of their trip, including fees, according to spokeswoman Hilarie Grey.

‘I think it’s ridiculous in these times to be so cheap about something like that’

Rachel Shuster canceled an April flight from Baltimore to Boston on Southwest and changed another April flight, to Chicago, to June.  

The $40 in EarlyBird fees she paid for the Chicago flight transferred to her new reservation since she was just delaying the trip, but she was shocked to find out she was out $50 in EarlyBird fees for the Boston trip.

The airline simply pointed her to the policy on its website when she asked why she wasn’t getting the money back.

“I had no idea,” she said. “It must be in really fine print.”

Shuster said the money was not a big deal “in the grand scheme of things,” but she objected to the refund policy on principle. 

“With so many companies trying to make things as easy as possible for people … this is just so anti-consumer that it’s baffling to me,” she said. “I think it’s ridiculous in these times to be so cheap about something like that.”

She welcomed the change in policy, which will give her a $50 voucher.

“I think they must have heard from the public,” Shuster said. “In a time when everyone is feeling the pinch, to be so ruthless is ridiculous.”

Southwest takes in hundreds of millions of dollars from EarlyBird Check-In

Southwest earns raves from passengers, and a good chunk of business, from its fee-free stance. The airline is the only U.S. carrier to offer two free checked bags, and it doesn’t charge fees to change or cancel a reservation, fees that start at $200 on major airlines.

The airline’s fee revenue is a fraction of the amount major airlines collect as a result, but EarlyBird is a big moneymaker for the airline. Southwest collected $358 million in EarlyBird fees in 2017, the last year it broke out the figure. That represented more than 60% of its “other” fees revenue, a category which also includes charges for unaccompanied minors, in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi, among other things. Bag fee revenue that year, in contrast: $46 million. (Southwest charges for extra bags and overweight or oversized bags.)

Airline officials have said as recently as January that the EarlyBird revenues grew by double digits in the last three months of 2019.

WATCH: Southwest is not your ordinary airline


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Hawaiian Airlines to offer free island flights to medical workers fighting COVID-19


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FILE - In this June 7, 2010 file photo an Hawaiian Airlines plane is shown at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle. American Airlines is dropping money-losing flights between Chicago and Shanghai, and Hawaiian Airlines will suspend its only route to China because of low demand. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

The friendly skies are getting friendlier.

Hawaiian Airlines has announced the carrier will begin offering medical workers free flights between islands during the month of April. The airline will also be modifying its flight schedule for two weeks during the state’s self-quarantine requirement, which began April 1.

Hawaiian Airlines said it will provide free travel to neighboring islands “to support travel associated with COVID-19 response efforts,” a press release stated.

“This virus has presented an unprecedented test for all of us who call Hawai‘i home, and we are glad to be able to support the exceptional and important work our medical providers are carrying out across our islands each day to meet our state’s healthcare needs and help us overcome this challenge,” said Hawaiian Airlines President and CEO Peter Ingram, via the press release.

As part of the initiative, Hawaii Airlines partnered with hospitals and healthcare service providers on the islands.

One of the partners, Hawaii Emergency Physicians Associated, praised the gesture.

“The doctors of Hawaii Emergency Physicians Associated appreciate Hawaiian Airlines facilitating us traveling to Critical Access Hospitals across the state and particularly to isolated communities on Moloka‘i and Kaua‘i,” said HEPA President Dr. Craig Thomas and Vice President of Operations Dr. Katherine Heinzen Jim, via a press release.

Hawaiian Airlines had announced last week that it would be suspending nearly all of its flights to the mainland U.S., but continuing inter-island and cargo flights. Beginning April 4, Hawaiian Airlines will also introduce its new Neighbor Island flight schedule, which will offer three daily roundtrip flights – for a total of 16 flights daily – to surrounding islands from Honolulu Airport.


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Cruise Planners Unveils ‘For the Love of Travel’ Facebook Contest

To keep travel top of mind with consumers in a quarantined world, Cruise Planners introduced a Facebook “For the Love of Travel” contest, whose grand prize is a seven-night Celebrity Cruises’ Caribbean cruise for two in 2021.

The campaign is in effect through April 30, 2020, and also includes weekly Cruise Planners’ gift items.

“This contest is a fun way to spark some joy across our travel advisor network, their clients and travelers who are spending days, and even weeks, inside their homes,” said Michelle Fee, CEO and founder of Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative. “I can’t wait to be inspired by the travel photos submitted, as I am already reminiscing about my favorite travels and dreaming of where to go next once the world opens up again.”

Those interested in participating need only post photos of their favorite vacation memories using the #CruisePlannersLove hashtag on their personal Facebook walls or on a Cruise Planner travel advisor’s Facebook business page.

However, to qualify, it is mandatory posters provide details about why the vacation was their favorite along with the picture and #CruisePlannersLove hashtag.

“A love of travel brings us all together, and it’s during these uncertain times, that we need to virtually come together and keep that passion alive,” Fee said.

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The direct booking 3 percent solution

Richard Turen

A few weeks ago, I managed to alienate a good many of my preferred suppliers while convincing others that I was, indeed, out of touch with contemporary forms of transactional analysis. I had suggested that it might just be that the time for direct bookings has now passed.

Taking one’s vacation time, I argued, and leaving it in the hands of a commission-based call center headset is almost never in the best interests of the consumer. It is, instead, a cruel attempt to divert the client from unbiased, well-informed, experienced counsel. You know, like they have in other professions that are respected.

Many of you reached out in support of my stance. But the most interesting response I received was from a supplier who plies lakes and rivers.

It was nicely written, and the person who penned it is a friend and someone I respect. The purpose seemed to be to inform me of a fact that would be new to me. This supplier, well-known though it is, does only “3% direct business.” That amazingly low figure was used as evidence that this particular supplier “strongly supports the travel agent community” by doing 97% of its business through that channel.

Well, not exactly. I am going to take a chance here and guess that a fair share of that 97% revenue is produced by other commissioned headsets who work in call centers owned by corporations other than the provider. The OTA community is a separate issue. The real question is whether or not a supplier should get kudos for only doing 3% of its business directly.

We have, of course, heard similar arguments for years. I have had the percentage of direct business described to me by a wide range of industry executives. The figures are always somewhere between “negligible” and 8%. I have never heard anyone cite a higher figure.

But what does 3% really represent? It tells me, in the specific case I am referencing here, that one of two things is true:

The first is that the supplier is making up the figure. No major tour operator or cruise line does 3% direct business. I would find that virtually impossible given the implications.

Look at the massive amounts of direct-to-consumer advertising plus the print ads, the home mailers. Add in phrases like “Talk to a cruise specialist or your travel consultant.” Spending the massive millions to garner 3% of the direct-business pie makes little economic sense. Why list those 1-800 call center numbers?

The second thing that could be true is that many suppliers are truly unaware of the financial benefits from major consortia and seasoned advisors who would rain praise and efforts on anyone who was the first to drop direct bookings. Do they not get that?

Now to be completely transparent, many executives whom I count as friends think I am naive. They see travel agents as line-item, order-taking expenses. And they always tell me that many of their callers do not wish to use a consultant.

So what? Do you mean to tell me that your 3% or 40% of consumers who call to book your product cannot be turned over to a travel professional to handle the booking?

Do cruise lines and tour operators really believe they lack the marketing and sales skills to retain the bookings of at least 90% of those callers who state they do not wish to use an agent? No way you can handle that? Come on!

The fact is that the major suppliers want it both ways. They are the advisor’s best supporters while maintaining an expensive in-house division designed to compete with advisors for the same consumer. Can you really have it both ways?

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Survey Reveals Americans’ Travel Concerns in the Age of COVID-19

Cases of COVID-19 continue to skyrocket, but the situation hasn’t deterred all Americans from dreaming about travel.

A new survey from Upgraded Points asked Americans when they would feel comfortable traveling again and the results were a mixed bag.

On the positive side, people are wanting to travel again but travelers differ on when that will be.

Upgraded Points found that most people are waiting until next year. Overall, 20 percent of respondents said that they would feel comfortable traveling for non-essential, non-business travel again in 2021.

However, 13 percent said they would be ready to travel again this May and another 13 percent said June of this year. The rest of the responses were scattered throughout the rest of the year.

Eleven percent said that they would be ready to travel again in July. Eight percent said August and 5 percent said September. Four percent said they would travel again in October and November and December were 2 and 3 percent respectively.

Younger people were ready to travel a lot sooner than older generations. In fact, 20 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 were ready to travel this month—which is highly discouraged but shows that this age group will likely bounce back much faster than older travelers.

Travelers between ages 26 and 34 were not as willing to pack up their bags and go but close. Fourteen percent were willing to travel in April but most were looking to 2021, 18 percent. June was the second-highest month to get back to travel for this age group with 16 percent saying this would be when they would embark on a vacation again.

Upgraded Points also asked respondents what their biggest concerns were about traveling again and 41 percent said contracting COVID-19 was their main fear. Thirty-two percent said that spreading the virus to their friends and family was a concern and a further 17 percent said that they were afraid of spreading COVID-19 to other travelers. Very few, just 0.2 percent said they were afraid of being stuck somewhere as a result of a quarantine.

Just 10 percent of respondents said that they had no concerns about traveling.

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Southwest Airlines shares heartwarming photo of 'selfless' health care workers headed to NY


News about the coronavirus pandemic continues to be grim. But Southwest Airlines’ latest Instagram post is here to make you smile when you need it most.

a group of people standing around a plane: This Friday, March 27, 2020, photo provided by Southwest Airlines employee Dayartra Etheridge shows health care workers, other passengers and flight crew aboard a Southwest flight from Atlanta to New York's LaGuardia Airport holding their hands in the shape of a heart, before the plane pushed back from the gate, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The airline posted a photo on Monday featuring health care workers headed for New York to help. The photo showed those aboard the flight making hearts with their hands. 

An Atlanta ramp agent took the photo of the health care workers, other passengers, and flight crew before the plane pushed back from the gate on Friday, Southwest Airlines spokesman Derek K. Hubbard said on Sunday.

There were about 30 health care professionals including nurses, all from Atlanta-area hospitals, who were on the regularly scheduled flight to LaGuardia Airport, Hubbard said.

“While so many of us continue to feel the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, no one knows what is happening quite like our medical professionals,” the caption of the photo began. “These brave souls soldier on in the midst of tremendous risk and exposure, constantly putting the needs of others above their own.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Southwest Airlines (@southwestair) on Mar 29, 2020 at 3:03pm PDT

“Their selfless sacrifice is a beacon of light during such a dark time in our world, and no amount of gratitude and praise would ever be enough,” the caption continues. “Because of their courage, our family, our friends, our coworkers, our neighbors, and more have a fighting chance.”

The airline thanked the medical professionals and first responders for their courage. 

“This photo embodies it all: bravery, courage, and sacrifice. If it were easy, everyone would do it, but we know that is not the case,” the caption reads. “Thankfully, this group and countless others do it each day, and for that we are forever grateful and in their debt. So to all the first responders, medical professionals, healthcare workers, and anyone else on the front lines today and every day to keep us safe, thank you.”

Contributing: Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Southwest Airlines shares heartwarming photo of ‘selfless’ health care workers headed to NY

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Waterton Canyon closes outdoor recreation during coronavrius outbreak

Waterton Canyon, a popular recreation area for fishing, running, biking, horseback riding and wildlife viewing, has been closed to the public by Denver Water because of the coronavirus.

The recreation area begins near Chatfield Reservoir and extends 6.5 miles up a canyon to the Strontia Springs Dam on a dirt road beside the South Platte River. Because the road is narrow, it doesn’t not allow for much dispersal of people.

“It’s no secret that Waterton Canyon is one of the most popular outdoor recreation amenities for Coloradans and tourists alike,” said Joe Salas, a spokesman for Denver Water. “But as a key Denver Water operational facility, the No. 1 priority of this working facility is to store and send water to two of Denver’s three drinking water treatment plants. The narrow road is vital for Denver Water employees to access the canyon facilities and Strontia Springs Reservoir. It also happens to double as a canyon trail for recreationists. This means we need to limit exposure to our crews working in the canyon.”

Salas said more than 1,000 people went to the canyon last Sunday, most of them between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and that when wildlife is present, people sometimes congregate in groups.

This closure follows the governor’s Sunday announcement that he would enforce a week-long, statewide ban on downhill skiing. Statewide and local gathering bans are in place across the state.

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Hand luggage: How to keep your luggage clean from coronavirus when travelling – top tips

After just a week into the coronavirus lockdown in the UK, many weary travellers have grown familiar with how to protect themselves from the deadly coronavirus. Airplanes, hotel rooms and crowded areas have all become no-go zones for regular people unless you’re having to travel for an essential reason. But even day-to-day while travelling to the shops for essentials, how do you keep your belongings and clothes clean?

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Can you catch the dreaded bug or spread it via your clothes?

Medical experts have said the threat is low but have also suggested several precautions to help ease people’s minds.

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According to research conducted on the coronavirus, the virus can spread through particles in the air and via contaminated surfaces.

The virus is typically expelled when a person coughs or sneezes so the particles can land clothing.

If no one around you has tested positive for the virus then you should wash your clothes as normal.

But if you’re out shopping and people are not adhering to social distancing rules then it might be an idea to wash your clothes as soon as you get home.

If someone in your household does have covid-19 then extra precautions should be taken.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended wearing disposable gloves when handling clothes and then discarding the gloves afterwards.

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Your hands should be cleaned after using the gloves.

Another tip is not to shake dirty laundry as you could disperse the virus into the air.

The CDC has confirmed that washing clothes with detergent will also kill the virus.

But metal, plastic and glass are more frienfly habitats for viruses with research suggesting that the virus can live on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours.

When travelling, a canvas tote bag or rucksack might be preferable to a carry-on with an aluminium handle or a plastic suitcase.

Ann Falsey, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Rochester Medical Centre in New York said the virus can generally last less than a day on fabrics and other porous materials, and 30 minutes to an hour on hands.

However, Ms Falsey also said that instead of washing your clothes you could always just leave them.

She said simply: “Don’t use them for a week and the virus will die.”

Greg Poland, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said that to catch the virus from luggage, you would need a very specific series of events to occur.

He said: “You’d literally have to have someone sneeze all over it, get mucus on it and then, within minutes to a few hours, you would have to touch your bag and then your face.”

He suggested that concerned travellers should wipe down the parts of their luggage that have been touched by other people.

Mr Poland also suggested putting anything that could be contaminated out in the sun as the humidity and temperature along with the UV will disrupt the virus.

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Flight warning: Airline tickets could be given tobacco-style warnings – here’s why

The coronavirus pandemic has seen less people travelling abroad and more people being forced to enjoy local walks and their homes. Although coronavirus has been a huge inconvenience for most people who have cancelled their summer holiday plans, the virus has also had a positive impact on the environment.

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With millions around the world either out of a job or working from home, factories have been forced to close and people aren’t driving or flying as regularly.

All of this has led to a massive drop in air pollution which kills a shocking 4.2million people every year.

The last few months have seen a huge change in air quality, especially in places like Wuhan, northern Italy, London and parts of the US.

In the UK, the lockdown has seen toxic small particulate matter drop by as much as 50 percent.

Now, experts are urging that tobacco-style health warnings should be displayed on airline tickets, petrol pumps and fossil fuels.

Experts writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) have called for the warnings to be slapped on airline tickets to tell people that burning fossil fuels worsens the climate emergency which impacts people’s health.

The warning labels, like those on tobacco products, will be displayed at points of purchase such as at petrol stations, on energy bills, and on airline tickets.

The potential move is a low cost way to encourage people to change their behaviour as part of efforts to cut fossil fuel use and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions which are fuelling rising global temperatures.

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The group of experts has been led by Dr Mike Gill who is a former regional director of public health.

He helped create the health warnings that cigarettes and tobacco products have to carry today, which have helped make smoking less socially acceptable.

The experts have said that similar to smoking, fossil fuels harm others as well as the person using them.

But unlike cigarettes, fossil fuels harm future generations as well.

The experts suggest:”Warning labels connect the abstract threat of the climate emergency with the use of fossil fuels in the here and now.”

Like tobacco products, there would also be restrictions on advertising by fossil fuel companies.

The experts have said that the restricted adverting would prevent misleading claims about investments in renewables when this is only accounts for a fraction of their plans.

While fossil fuels are already on the forefront of most governments’ minds, more action is needed to keep global temperatures below 2C (F).

The UK has a target to cut emissions to net zero by 2050.

The Government is hoping that by being ambitious, it will encourage other nations to do the same in the run up to key “Cop26” UN climate talks due to take place in Glasgow in November.

The experts added: “There is an opportunity for national and local governments to implement labelling of fossil fuels in the run-up to Cop26 in Glasgow and in particular for the UK Government, as the host of the Cop, to show leadership, as part of a package of measures to accelerate progress on getting to ‘net zero’ emissions.

“When the Covid-19 pandemic eventually wanes labelling could play an important role in helping to reduce the risk of a rapid rebound in greenhouse gas emissions as the economy expands.”

It is likely that Covid-19 global cases will hit one million in the next few days.

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British Airways closes Gatwick Airport base indefinitely amid coronavirus crisis

British Airways is to close its Gatwick airport base indefinitely due to the coronavirus crisis.

The airline told staff based at the Sussex airport in a late-night email. 

A spokesperson said: “Due to the considerable restrictions and challenging market environment, like many other airlines, we will temporarily suspend our flying schedule at Gatwick.   

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“We are contacting affected customers to discuss their options.”

Gatwick has long been BA’s secondary base, with fewer flights and more of a leisure focus than Heathrow.

The move reflects the reality that all BA’s scheduled services to and from Gatwick are cancelled until further notice.

The only operations shown today are two arrivals of repatriation flights from Lima in Peru.

Some ground operations staff will be kept on to maintain the airline’s readiness to resume services.

British Airways is continuing to fly dozens of flights to and from Heathrow, with departures on Tuesday to Frankfurt, Gibraltar, Budapest, Lisbon, Reykjavik, Stuttgart and Manchester before 8am on Tuesday.

Gatwick, which until last month had the busiest runway in the world, has announced it is closing its North Terminal – and keeping its runway open to scheduled flights only between 2pm and 10pm daily during April.

On Monday, easyJet the biggest airline at Gatwick, announced it would ground all 344 aircraft across the UK because of the pandemic.

Norwegian, normally the third-biggest airline at Gatwick after easyJet and British Airways, has grounded almost its entire operation.

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