Delta Air Lines allowing passengers to change, cancel Dominican Republic travel plans

Delta Air Lines is allowing passengers to rebook or cancel their Dominican Republic travel plans without incurring additional fees amid ongoing reports of mysterious illnesses and deaths in the country.

Citing the “recent events in Punta Cana,” a message posted to Delta’s Advisories page says travel may be “impacted to/from/through” Punta Cana and the Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ).

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The airline is now giving passengers three options ahead of Dominican Republic travel plans booked through Aug. 15: Remain on the flight, change the flight dates, or cancel the itinerary altogether.

Passengers must have booked travel to PUJ prior to June 21 to be eligible. Those remaining on their scheduled flights needn’t do anything, while those wishing to change flight dates can rebook travel through Nov. 20 without incurring additional fees. For those canceling their trips altogether, Delta is issuing a credit for use up to one year from the original booking date. After canceling and rebooking, however, change and fare difference fees will apply.

Passengers wishing to change the origin or destination of a flight will also incur applicable change and fare fees, Delta says.

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Delta’s advisory comes amid reports of nearly a dozen U.S. tourists dying in the country over the last 18 months. The frequency of flight cancellations, too, has been increasing throughout June, with 45 more cancellations reported between June 1 and June 17, per a report in The Washington Post. Bookings between July and August have also seen a 59 percent drop over last year, Fox Business reported.

Pablo Espinal, the chief of staff for the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism, tells Fox News that the safety of travelers to the country remains a priority. Espinal also said that, despite reports of flight cancellations, visitors to the Punta Cana airport have actually increased between the beginning of the year and June, as compared to the same time frame in 2018.

Espinal also tells Fox News the Ministry is doubling its efforts to inspect businesses that operate within the tourism sector, as well as "working with Delta, and other airlines," to strengthen security.

“We are taking this extremely seriously. And we are working every day to make sure we’re making the country safer with everything we do," he said.

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Still, other major airlines, including United and American, have confirmed to Fox News that the carriers are dealing with passengers on a “case by case” basis.

“With safety as our top priority, we continue to monitor the events in the Dominican Republic,” wrote United Airlines in a statement obtained by Fox News. “We have not issued a travel waiver at this time, but will work with customers on a case by case basis.”

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Southwest’s standing policy, meanwhile, is that customers may cancel travel plans up to one hour before the scheduled flight for “full store credit,” travel advisory or not. A representative also stated that the airline will always work with passengers regarding any concerns.