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Airlines Offering Refunds Over Zika Virus Outbreak

Several major airlines are offering refunds or itinerary changes to travelers jittery over the outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus in the Caribbean and Central and South American countries.

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the Flaviviridae virus family and the Flavivirus genus. In humans, it initially causes a mild illness known as Zika fever, Zika, or Zika disease, which since the 1950s has been known to occur within a narrow equatorial belt from Africa to Asia. There is a possible link between Zika fever and microcephaly in newborn babies of infected mothers. Photo Credit: healththenmore.com

Chile-based LATAM Airlines, Latin America’s largest carrier, said it would offer refunds or the opportunity to change destinations to medically certified pregnant women and their traveling companions booked on international flights to affected countries, including Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.

“For pregnant passengers that have already initiated their trips to the aforementioned destinations, they can return early, subject to seat availability, at no extra charge,” the airline said in a statement.

American Airlines Group Inc. more than doubled its previous list of destinations for which it was offering refunds to pregnant travelers, adding Puerto Rico, Martinique and four other countries to an initial group of five Central American airports.

United Airlines also said this week it was allowing customers with reserved tickets for travel to impacted regions to postpone their trips or obtain refunds with no penalty.

“We are offering customers who are traveling to the affected regions the opportunity to rebook at a later date or receive a full refund,” United spokesman Charles Hobart said in a statement Tuesday.

Avianca, Latin America’s second-biggest airline, and Brazilian carrier Gol made similar comments on Tuesday.

Flight reservations have not been affected so far by worries about Zika, a LATAM spokeswoman said.

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