NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The airline industry has been paralyzed by the coronavirus pandemic, reporting a 10-year low in travel.
So how are companies adjusting, and what does this mean for the future of air travel?
All across the country and here in New York, airport terminals are empty. No bags, no lines and restaurants inside are closed. It’s the new reality created by the coronavirus.
Tatiana Chin is among the passengers grounded by the outbreak. She was planning to go to Barcelona at the end of the month for her birthday, but her flight was canceled, like thousands of others.
Instead of a refund, she was offered a credit.
“As soon as I got that email I was like, oh no, no, this is absolutely preposterous because the Department of Transportation put out a mandate saying that airlines should promptly refund any flights that are going out of the U.S.,” she told CBS2’s Kevin Rincon.
After some back and forth, she was able to get back $2,000 for her Delta flight.
“I think if you pay for a service and the service isn’t rendered to you, you should get a refund, period,” Chin said.
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Brian Kelly, founder and CEO of the travel website The Points Guy, says knowing the rules isn’t always enough.
“Now many airlines will not want to do that at first. They’re going to try to offer you a voucher, but if your flight is canceled, you are owed a refund and you should be persistent,” Kelly said.
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He says in many ways, the flying experience won’t ever be the same — not only now, during the outbreak of COVID-19, but moving forward.
“Right now, we’re seeing airlines block middle seats due to give social distancing. Whether that’s sustainable long-term remains to be seen. Certainly we can see fares skyrocket if that many seats were taken out of the marketplace,” Kelly said.
He also says there could be wholesale changes like what we saw after 9/11, but instead of increased security, we’d now be dealing with health screenings.