American Joins Other Airlines in Reducing Flights to NYC

American Airlines has joined at least three other carriers in dramatically reducing its schedule to New York City airports, as the Empire State – now the epicenter of the coronavirus global pandemic – prepares for a likely increase in cases and deaths this week or next.

Starting April 7, American will trim flights out of LaGuardia Airport (LGA), John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), reducing service by at least 90 percent at each airport.

“As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in New York City and the surrounding region continue to increase, along with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for travel to the area, the demand for flights to the New York area is rapidly evaporating,” wrote David Seymour, the senior vice president of American Airlines, in a letter to team members on Sunday.

The airline plans to run its new, temporary schedule through May 6.

With government and health officials saying the apex of the coronavirus is expected sometime this week in New York, American has joined United, JetBlue and Spirit in reducing flights.

The U.S. has more than 308,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nearly 8,400 deaths as of Saturday, April 4. New York City has more than 20 percent of those confirmed cases, 63,300, and just over 1,900 deaths.

American also said it will operate flights only between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET, as “turn-only operations with no aircraft or crew remaining overnight.”

Last week, Spirit Airlines suspended service to LGA and EWR, as well as Niagara Falls International Airport, Plattsburg International Airport in upstate New York and Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Conn. JetBlue, which is headquartered in New York City, announced its own cuts to service in a memo to employees.

And on Sunday, United pulled the trigger on reducing flights.

“As the situation in New York and New Jersey worsens, we are taking another major step at Newark and LaGuardia to help keep our employees safe and play our part in helping to mitigate the spread of the outbreak in the Tri-State area,” Greg Hart, United’s executive vice president and chief operations officer, said in the letter to employees.

At Newark, a United hub, the airline is slashing 90 percent of its normal daily flights, going from 139 flights per day that fly to 62 different destinations to 15 daily flights to nine cities. At LaGuardia, United is dropping all but two of its 18 flights per day to four destinations down to two daily flights to just one destination.

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Southwest Airlines Cuts Flight Schedule By Over 40 Percent

Southwest Airlines has announced a new flight schedule for travel May 3 through June 5 in wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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The changes will reduce flight activity by more than 40 percent, limiting the low-cost carrier to approximately 2,000 flights per day. Southwest cited “significantly lower passenger demand, operational disruptions and the ongoing suspension of our international service” for the reduced capacity.

“During this time, we are maintaining passenger service to every city we serve, moving cargo around the country, and facilitating our customers’ essential travel between nearly every city-pair we previously offered,” the airline added. “Some journeys that had been nonstop might now require a same-plane stop or a connection. This scheduling change merely takes forward in time work that is removing roughly 1,500 flights a day from our current operation.”

Southwest added that affected customers would be notified of any changes and receive updates as well as be offered additional flexibility within the carrier’s existing policies amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The overall demand for travel remains fluid during this ongoing pandemic and we continue to evaluate further reductions,” Southwest said.

With travel demand down, the airline continues to offer discounted fares as low as $39 one-way.

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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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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.”

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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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American Airlines applying for 12 billion in cash and loans

American Airlines will apply for approximately $12 billion
in airline rescue grants and loans, CEO Doug Parker and president Robert Isom
said in a letter to employees.

“We intend to apply for these funds and are confident that,
along with our relatively high available cash position, they will allow us to
fly through even the worst of potential future scenarios,” the executives said.

Under the Cares Act, U.S. passenger airlines are
to receive up to $25 billion in federal grants and are eligible — along with
large travel agencies and aircraft maintenance businesses — for up to $25
billion in federal loans.

Grants must be used to maintain salaries and staffing levels
through Sept. 30. Airlines that accept them must also continue service to
markets they flew to as of March 1.

On Tuesday, the Department of Transportation clarified how
it will manage that latter requirement. The rule will pertain only to U.S.
destinations. In cases in which airlines serve multiple airports in the same
market, they will be allowed to consolidate to a single airport. Carriers can
also reduce the number of routes offered from any airport as long as at least
one route is operated.

For destinations that a carrier served at least five days a
week as of the last week of February, the carrier will be required to continue
a minimum service level of five days per week. If carriers had been flying
routes less than five days per week, they will be allowed to drop to
once-weekly service. 

The DOT will also allow the airlines that take federal
assistance to request permission to halt service in certain markets. Airlines
will have to explain why cessation is necessary.

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American Airlines Confirms Coronavirus-Related Death of Flight Attendant

American Airlines confirmed Thursday one of the carrier’s flight attendants died after contracting the coronavirus.

According to NBCDFW.com, American officials revealed that 65-year-old Paul Frishkorn of Philadelphia tested positive for COVID-19 and passed away earlier this week, marking the airline’s first employee death related to the viral outbreak.

Frishkorn worked as a crew member for American for 23 years and was a union representative for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA).

“Our industry, our airline and all of us have been affected by COVID-19 in different ways,” the APFA said in a statement. “But until now, we hadn’t lost one of our own. This loss hits home in a very different, personal way from the headlines.”

The airline also announced earlier this week a series of temporary changes to in-flight policies as a way to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Some of the precautions include maximizing social distancing between employees and customers, reducing food and beverage offerings, closing most Admirals Club lounges and restricting the use of middle seats.

American officials released a statement about the death of Frishkorn:

“Earlier this week, we lost a respected, longtime member of the American Airlines family who tested positive for COVID-19. Paul Frishkorn joined us as a flight attendant in 1997 and was based in Philadelphia.”

“Over the years he built a reputation as a consummate professional who was honored as one of American’s Flight Service Champions twice for his excellent service to our customers. He was also a knowledgeable benefits consultant and servant leader for his colleagues through his work with the Association of Flight Attendants while at US Airways and later, with the APFA.”

“Our hearts go out to Paul’s loved ones, many of whom work for American. We are working directly with them to ensure they are cared for during this extraordinarily difficult time. He will be missed by the customers he cared for and everyone at American who worked with him.”

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American Airlines flight attendant dies of coronavirus, elevating fears in the industry


Paul Frishkorn, a Philadelphia-based American Airlines flight attendant and union representative, has died from coronavirus, the airline confirmed Thursday.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: American Airlines.

“Earlier this week, we lost a respected, longtime member of the American Airlines family, who tested positive for COVID-19,” a statement from American Airlines released Thursday read. “Our hearts go out to Paul’s loved ones, many of whom work for American.”

Lori Bassani, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents 27,000 flight attendants at American Airlines, said in a statement, “It is with deep sadness we report that one of our own … has passed away from Covid-19.” 

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Frishkorn, 65, was described as a tireless advocate for the flight attendant corps who was spending time in the Philadelphia crew room “answering questions and assisting our members through this difficult time” before he fell ill.

“Paul is the first of our colleagues to lose his life as a result of this deadly virus. We are deeply saddened and are reminded that no precaution is too much to take during this horrible time,” the statement from Bassani said. 

Speaking by phone to USA TODAY, Bassani said that Frishkorn’s death has increased the already deep concern for flight attendants working amid the highly contagious virus.

“When this hits one of your own, it sheds a whole new light on the coronavirus,” said Bassani. “This does spread more fear among our ranks. This is a killer virus, unlike any we have experienced.”

Frishkorn was honored as one of American’s Flight Service Champions twice for his dealings with customers. Tracy Sear, a flight attendant for American Airlines, told CNN that he was a larger-than-life presence who enjoyed figure skating and loved to laugh.

American Airlines announced Tuesday it is implementing new safety measures that begin Friday and last through April 3. The airlines will offer “limited” food and beverage options to further provide for social distancing and minimal contact between flight attendants and customers,”

Passengers can also now switch up their seating arrangements to aid with social distancing and the airlines will “block” all seats adjacent to flight attendant jump seats. For flights less than four and a half hours, no meals or snacks will be served. Beverages will be available “upon request.”

Longer flights will do away with snacks but serve drinks as usual and provide regular meals to passengers in the main cabin. First-class passengers will be given their meals on “one tray versus in courses.”


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American Airlines makes changes to seating pet policies Covid 19 guidelines

In response to social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Airlines will block 50% of middle seats and all seats adjacent to flight attendant jump seats.

The carrier has also temporarily relaxed seating policies. Gate agents may now reassign seats to create more space between passengers. And once onboard, customers can change seats within their ticketed cabins subject to availability.

In another precautionary measure, American also suspended checked pet service, effective March 25, explaining that schedule changes have increased the risk of stranded pets. Carry-on pets and service animals are still permitted.

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List of airlines refund policies coronavirus

Airlines have canceled enormous portions of their scheduled
flights for the remainder of March, April and going into May due to the coronavirus pandemic. But the U.S. carriers’
policies widely vary when it comes to refunds. 

The following is a list of the current refund policies of
the 10 largest U.S. airlines. The list is based upon the carriers’ explanation
of their policies to Travel Weekly and is augmented in some cases by the
airline’s contract of carriage. 

International carriers aren’t included here. Under European
Union law, carriers are required to refund passengers whose flights have been canceled,
according to Christian Nielsen, chief legal officer for Air Help. 

Aside from refunds, carriers around the world have largely
waived change fees and are issuing flight credits for cancellations initiated
by passengers, though the specific terms of those credits vary. This list
includes links to the policies of many large U.S. and foreign carriers. 

For those who want refunds, it’s important not to reschedule
travel until an airline formally cancels a flight. 

With refunds easily outpacing sales right now, some carriers
have begun managing all agent channel refunds themselves and are prohibiting
refunds through the GDSs or ARC. 

Alaska Airlines will refund international tickets for
flights that it cancels due to current network cuts. The carrier says it will
also refund tickets for the “majority” of canceled domestic flights.

American Airlines customers can receive a full refund in any
case in which a flight, domestic or international, is canceled. American’s
contract of carriage guarantees such refunds.

Allegiant says that when it cancels a flight, “we work with
each individual on best options for them, including re-accommodating to another
flight, providing a full credit voucher or a refund. This has not changed.”
Refunds are guaranteed as an option under Allegiant’s contract of carriage.

Delta customers are eligible for a refund if a flight is
canceled. Delta’s contract of a carriage guarantees refunds at the passenger’s
request for all cancellations, delays and diversions of more than 90 minutes.

Frontier said that if a customer’s flight is canceled due to
Covid-19, they are entitled to a refund or may opt for a future credit. 

Hawaiian Airlines customers can request refunds for all
flights canceled due to Covid-19 capacity cuts.

JetBlue said customers are eligible for waived cancellations
and change fees when flights are canceled. However, JetBlue’s Jan. 16, 2020
contract of carriage says that when a flight is canceled, passengers can opt
for a full refund. 

Southwest Airlines will provide refunds for impacted flights at the
customer’s request, but the carrier cautions that the policy is subject to
change. Refunds aren’t guaranteed in the Southwest contract of carriage.

Spirit Airlines answered questions about its refund policy
for canceled flights by referencing its website, which only says that travel
credits can be used to make bookings in the next six months (though the flights
themselves can be for beyond six months away.) However, Spirit’s contract of
carriage says customers have the option to get a refund for cancellations.

United Airlines customers whose travel is disrupted by more
than six hours because of schedule changes are eligible for a refund on
domestic flights. On international flights, United will provide a credit for
travel disrupted by 6 hours or more. The credit is good for 12 months from time
of purchase. Customers who don’t use the credit will get a refund at the end of
those 12 months.

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