TAMPA, Fla. — There is still much we don't know about the latest COVID variant that has been identified in places across the globe. But, as more research is being conducted, world leaders are not taking any risks.
The World Health Organization warned Monday that the global risk from the omicron variant is “very high” based on early evidence, saying the mutated coronavirus could lead to surges with “severe consequences.”
The U.N. health agency, in a technical paper issued to member states, said "considerable uncertainties” remain about the variant that was first detected days ago in southern Africa. But it said it is possible the variant has mutations that could enable it to escape an immune-system response and boost its ability to spread from one person to another.
Just like with previous variants, the response by leaders is very fluid, with travel restrictions coming down swiftly this time around.
President Biden's administration last week moved to restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries in southern Africa. Some other nations reinstated severe travel and business lockdowns to prevent the omicron variant from spreading.
So, as the situation continues to develop, what happens if your travel destination is next on the restricted list?
Here's how each airline handles its rescheduling and cancellations:
If you booked a flight between Feb. 27, 2020, and Apr. 30, 2021, Alaska Airlines is waiving any rescheduling or cancellation fee so long as the new trip takes place within the year of the original travel date.
Allegiant enacted a new policy on May 1, 2021, to accommodate for the everchanging coronavirus pandemic. Passengers can change or cancel their flights for a $25 fee. The catch is that the changes must be made within seven days of departure.
American is no longer charging passengers for trip changes or cancellations for any domestic U.S. flight. You are, however, are responsible for paying the fare difference when changing a flight.
The policy does not apply for "Basic Economy" flights unless a travel waiver is in place.
Just like American Airlines, Delta is no longer charging passengers for trip changes or cancellations. However, the airline is also allowing the policy to extend to basic economy flights until Dec. 31, 2021.
It's been a common policy for passengers who book a flight with Southwest Airlines to not pay for any changes or cancellations.
The airline released the following statement to us:
"Southwest Airlines doesn’t charge change fees. Customers can change a ticket without paying a fee; they only pay any applicable fare difference when selecting a new flight. Additionally, Southwest doesn’t charge a fee when a customer chooses to cancel a flight. Customers can cancel any ticket at least 10 minutes prior to departure and maintain the amount paid as a credit for future travel (valid for one year from the original date of the ticket’s issuance). Business Select and Anytime tickets (which are refundable fares) can be refunded to the original form of payment (if canceled at least 10 minutes prior to departure).
As always, we hope these flexible travel policies provide Southwest Customers with additional confidence in booking and managing their travel plans."
Passengers who reschedule or cancel a flight with United will not be met with any fees unless they book basic economy. However, due to the pandemic, basic economy flights will also be exempt from cancellation fees until Dec. 31, 2021.