Local News

H1N1 can derail travel plans

Posted October 21, 2009 10:00 p.m. EDT
Updated October 22, 2009 9:32 a.m. EDT

— Karen Simons had big plans for her trip to Minnesota earlier this month, but H1N1 ended them the night before her flight.

“I really began to feel really rotten,” Simons said. “In the morning I had virtually no voice. I had been coughing all night. So I called the airline and canceled.”

Simons said the airline was “very nice.” A representative told her to call back when she was healthy and did not mention what it would cost to reschedule the tickets.

Simons called the airline back eight-days later.

“That was when I was told if I wanted to fly in the next few days it was going to cost us $550 each to replace the tickets. That was twice as much as we paid in the first place for one ticket,” Simons said.

Simons said she expected to pay some penalty for having to cancel the tickets but not $200.

Anthony Black, a spokesman for Delta/Northwest airlines, said his company works with “each customer on a case-by-case basis, and in some cases that may require a doctor's note."

Travel agent Bob Gani said H1N1 is having an effect on the travel industry. Gani said many people who have not had access to a vaccine yet are having second thoughts about traveling. Some are considering waiting until they get vaccinated.

Gani said the situation isn’t as bad as several months ago, when H1N1 was affecting all forms of travel, from airlines to cruises.

The best thing a person can do is buy travel insurance, Gani said.

Since April, H1N1 has killed more than 800 people in the U.S., including 86 children, 39 of them in the past month and a half, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.