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Airlines waive change fees amid flu outbreak

Multiple airlines are waiving change fees for passengers flying through Mexico because of an outbreak of swine flu but have not canceled flights.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Multiple airlines are waiving change fees for passengers flying through Mexico because of an outbreak of swine flu but have not canceled flights.

Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines said Sunday it will waive its usual penalty for changing reservations for anyone traveling to, from or through Mexico from Saturday through May 6. It applies to anyone who bought their ticket before Saturday.

American spokesman Tim Smith wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press that the airline's medical department is "closely monitoring the situation." The airline has not canceled any flights because of swine flu, he said.

Smith also wrote that American has received "a few calls from customers ... but not huge numbers of them (are) seeking changes or information so far."

Mexico's health minister said swine flu has killed up to 86 people and likely sickened up to 1,400 since April 13.

Cases linked to recent Mexico travel
Federal health officials said Sunday that 20 swine flu cases have been reported so far in New York, Ohio, Kansas, Texas and California, primarily linked to recent travel to Mexico. Canada became the third country to confirm human cases of swine flu Sunday and multiple nations including New Zealand and Spain also suspect infection. Some are moving to quarantine travelers from affected regions and advising their citizens to postpone travel to certain areas in Mexico.

U.S. officials said they will begin asking travelers about illness if they're entering the country from regions with confirmed swine flu.

In a statement on its Web site, Grupo Mexicana said that in light of statements by Mexican health authorities, international passengers traveling to Mexico City, or those who are required to catch connecting flights at the Mexico City airport, may reschedule their flights and/or travel dates at no extra charge.

Mexicana passengers must be scheduled to travel between April 24 and April 30.

Airlines waiving change fees
Chicago-based United Airlines also issued a travel waiver due to the Mexico City swine flu outbreak. On its Web site, United said passengers who purchased tickets on or before Saturday, April 26 for travel through April 30 may change their plans without incurring a penalty.

Houston-based Continental Airlines Inc. is offering to waive change fees for passengers traveling to, from or through Mexico City, Puebla and Toluca, Mexico between April 26 and April 28. Tempe, Arizona-based US Airways Group Inc. is waiving the standard change fee, advance reservation and ticketing requirements for customers with Mexico City travel plans through April 30.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport spokesman David Magana said the airport is experiencing normal operations. Airport officials are "working closely with airlines and with local, state and federal health and emergency management agencies to monitor and assess the situation," he wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.