Tuesday 25 October 2016

Zika in Florida: Aer Lingus and Irish agents 'flexible' with travel changes

Travel info & advice

Published 05/08/2016 | 13:12

South Beach, Miami. Photo: Deposit
South Beach, Miami. Photo: Deposit
Wynwood, Miami. Source: Google Maps
MIAMI, FL - A sign on a building in the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami, Florida. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Aedes mosquito. Photo: Deposit
Zika warning at Miami international airport

Customers seeking to change or cancel Florida holidays on foot of zika fears are to be facilitated on a case-by-case basis.

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Aer Lingus, Sunway, American Holidays and some 100 ITAA members will all work with customers on their concerns, Independent.ie Travel has established.

The news comes as Florida mounted an aerial spraying campaign around the 'Zika Zone' in Miami-Dade County, where 15 cases have been reported.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has advised women who are pregnant, or who are trying to become pregnant, to consider postponing travel to the state.

“Aer Lingus will be flexible and accommodating in response to guests who raise concerns about travelling to Florida,” the airline confirmed.

Sunway, which offers package holidays to Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other destinations in the Sunshine State, said it was monitoring the situation closely and advising its customers to follow DFA and HPSC advice.

Wynwood, Miami. Source: Google Maps
Wynwood, Miami. Source: Google Maps

"We will review bookings on a case by case basis and do our utmost to assist clients who wish to cancel or amend holidays where possible without cancellation or amendment fees," a spokesperson said.

So far, the company has changed just one Florida booking due to zika concerns, it added, and in that case an alternative holiday was sourced for the customer.

Read more: Zika Virus Q&A: What is it? What are the travel implications?

The Irish Travel Agents' Association (ITAA) is also monitoring the DFA's advice.

"ITAA member agents will work closely with their airline and hotelier colleagues to minimise any inconvenience and expense to their customers," said its CEO, Pat Dawson, who said its members had so far received no requests to cancel or change the date of Florida bookings.

American Holidays is also allowing pregnant customers to change Florida bookings with no administration fees up to October 31 - as long as they can produce a doctor's note confirming their pregnancy.

Zika warning at Miami international airport
Zika warning at Miami international airport

Individual circumstances will be reviewed on a case by case basis, it says.

Widespread zika outbreaks of the sort seen in Brazil and Latin America are not expected in Florida, where officials have rushed to reassure visitors of their safety, but there are fears that more cases could be diagnosed in days to come.

Travellers to all affected areas are advised to take precautions against mosquito bites, and to practise safe sex and delay pregnancy for set periods after travel.

The latest HPSC zika advice is here.

The DFA's zika travel advice is here.

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