United repatriation flights bring 4,500 Americans home amid coronavirus outbreak
Though now's not the time to travel, some international travelers were left stranded by immediate border closings and government travel restrictions while already out of the country on vacation or business. Due to these restrictions, flight schedules have been changing daily, meaning that there's no guarantee that a return flight will operate as planned.
As such, this has caused many American citizens and nationals to be stranded abroad. Understandably, most are scrambling to get home.
Fortunately, U.S. airlines are trying to get these folks back stateside with a number of repatriation flights. In cases where countries have blocked international flights or closed airports, the airlines, along with the U.S. State Department, are working on one-off flights to bring nationals back to the country.
In the past week, United has led the charge with its 30 repatriation flights to cities across Central and South America. So far, UA has brought over 4,500 Americans home, and it's still planning more flights in coordination with government officials.
To date, the airline has operated repatriation flights from the following cities to hubs in Houston (IAH):
- Lima, Peru
- Panama City, Panama
- Quito, Ecuador
- Roatan, Honduras
- San Pedro Sula, Honduras
- Tegucigalpa, Honduras
United also operated a few charters between Lima and Washington D.C. (IAD) over the course of the last two weeks (with more scheduled for the next few days). Flyers on this route were even treated to one of the airline's newly reconfigured Boeing 777-200s with brand-new Polaris pods, a Premium Plus cabin and a refreshed coach experience.
In addition to these repatriation flights, United has also reinstated some of its long-haul international flying in order to accommodate those who need to get back to their home country.
United isn't the only airline operating repatriation flights. American and Delta are also doing their part to bring citizens back home. AA's flown multiple flights to Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru.
While American and United are focused on cities closer to home, Delta's operated long-haul repatriation flights from Italy, the Philippines and South Korea.
Though airlines across the world are taking a financial hit due to the coronavirus, they remain an essential component to the transportation industry. Even though demand has plummeted for scheduled service, airlines have taken it upon themselves to bring their country's citizens back home. Through countless repatriation flights, the major U.S. carriers are helping reunite families and bring people back together again.
Editor’s note: This post was updated on Monday, March 30, to reflect additional repatriation flights.