Alitalia issuing restrictive coronavirus waivers, says #dontstopflying despite travel advisories

Mar 7, 2020

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Alitalia isn’t doing much to endear itself to passengers these days.

Italy has been a coronavirus hot spot in Europe, but the Italian flag carrier is being relatively inflexible when it comes to letting travelers rebook their tickets.

The airline will let passengers traveling to airports in Northern Italy whose original travel dates were between Feb. 23 and March 8 rebook their tickets, so long as the new travel begins by March 31, according to Alitalia’s website. That means if you’re planning a vacation in Italy, your trip is only covered if your departure is sometime this weekend.

The CDC has issued a Level 3 warning to avoid nonessential travel to Italy, as well as China, Iran and South Korea.

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Passengers to and from the U.S. and a few other countries can also reroute their trips to other destinations the airline serves.

In comparison, many U.S. airlines have issued wide-ranging waivers that allow passengers much more flexibility to rebook their travel, even if their destination hasn’t had any identified cases of coronavirus. (Though, even those waivers exclude some existing itineraries.)

Related: The most up-to-date information on U.S. airlines’ coronavirus waivers, cuts and suspensions.

In an interview with TPG on March 4, Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and president of Atmosphere Research suggested that airlines are choosing the wrong tactic if they opt for a hard-line approach to rebooking policies amid coronavirus fears, as Alitalia has.

“People are scared, they’re scared to travel, and airlines need to show compassion and humanity to travelers during this very unusual period,” he said. Harteveldt added such compassion is especially important these days, “in the age of social media when anyone can vent their rage.”

Related: Everything you need to know about traveling during the coronavirus outbreak.

As if to prove his point, Alitalia’s Facebook page is practically a case study in online rage-venting.

Are you sure you want to miss out on all of this? #dontstopflying

Posted by Alitalia on Monday, 2 March 2020

A video the airline posted March 2 with the caption “Are you sure you want to miss out on all of this? #dontstopflying” has more than 300 comments (including replies), many of which come from irritated customers struggling to rebook their tickets.

Featured photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy.

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