Air travel has had an unprecedented two years. For much of the pandemic, people weren't flying the way that they had been, but those numbers have picked back up dramatically. Delta's CEO recently warned passengers that they should start expecting longer lines at airports, especially now that the U.S. has reopened its borders to millions of international visitors. Other travel experts have warned about higher flight prices to meet holiday demand. And now, Delta has announced that it's making new changes for December travelers. Read on to find out the latest from the airline.
Delta is not stopping its flights to South Africa next month despite new U.S. restrictions.
The Omicron variant—which was first detected in South Africa—has shaken up the travel world in a very short amount of time. On Nov. 26, the U.S. announced that is restricting travel for non-U.S. citizens from South Africa and seven other African countries: Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Malawi, and Eswatini. Despite this, Delta Air Lines said it is not stopping its service to South Africa, Reuters reported.
The airline currently operates a direct flight between Atlanta, Georgia, and Johannesburg, South Africa, three times a week. "There are no planned adjustments to service at this time," Delta said about this route, per Reuters.
But the airline is offering travel waivers for some December travelers.
Travelers from South Africa and the other countries who are barred from the U.S. will still face challenges, despite Delta's decision to continue its routes. Anyone who is not a U.S. citizen and has been in any of these countries within 14 days of their travel to the U.S. will be denied entry to the country, as of Nov. 29. To help these travelers, Delta is offering easier ways for them to change their flights.
According to Delta, customers traveling between the U.S. and South Africa through Dec. 31 can change their travel plans without change fees. But those who rebook their travel on or before Dec. 12 may also get their fare difference waived. "If travel is not able to be rescheduled within these guidelines, customers may cancel their reservation and apply any unused value of the ticket toward the purchase of a new ticket for a period of one year from the original ticket issuance," Delta states on it website.
Delta is also offering waivers for December travelers to other countries.
While the U.S. has only banned foreign travelers from certain African nations, Israel and Japan have already set restrictions for all foreign nationals—including those from the U.S. According to The New York Times, the two countries are barring all foreign travelers from entering for at least two weeks.
As a result of these restrictions, Delta is also offering help to affected passengers on its flights to Israel and Japan. The airline operates service from New York City to Tel Aviv, Israel, and has at least nine flights to various Japanese cities. According to Delta's website, the airline has issued a travel waiver for customers booked on flights to Tel Aviv, Israel, and Japanese flights through Dec. 12.
"The health and safety of our employees and customers remains our top priority. Delta will continue to work closely with our government partners to monitor the new COVID-19 variant and any travel restrictions," the airline states on its website.
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Another major airline said it is not cutting South African flights.
United is the only other commercial airline in the U.S. that operates direct flights to South Africa, according to Reuters. The news outlet also reported that the airline has decided not to stop service for the five flights per week between Newark, New Jersey, and Johannesburg it currently operates.
United said it "remains committed to maintaining a safe and vital link for essential supplies and personnel to transit between the African continent and the United States as feasible. We don't have any adjustments to our schedule at this time," per Reuters.
And on Nov. 26, the airline reiterated that it still plans to restart its service between Newark and Cape Town, South Africa, on Dec. 1, as previously scheduled. Unlike Delta Air Lines, United has not yet announced any plans to offer waivers for affected travelers on these flights.