Safety is a top concern for airlines and other travel companies. Whether they are updating airport safety procedures, hiring staff with top training, or carefully monitoring travel advisories, airlines are always carefully looking out for the safety of both their crew and passengers.
That’s why airlines are currently keeping tabs on Zika. When it was first discovered in Uganda during the 40s and 50s, Zika appeared to be a relatively harmless virus. It seemed to create symptoms like a mild fever, rash, and joint pain, and as many as 80% of the people who caught Zika didn’t feel any symptoms at all.
Over the last few months, thousands of babies in Brazil were born with smaller-than-average heads—a condition known as microcephaly. While new studies need to be conducted to fully understand what’s behind this worrying trend, so far all data is pointing to Zika.
As a result, travel companies are being extra cautious. Here’s a look at some of the steps they are taking, and how they’re working to keep both crew and passengers safe from this potentially dangerous virus.
New Safety Policies Help Keep Pilot and Flight Attendant Careers Safe from Harm
Zika is most dangerous to pregnant women. According to research, this is because Zika can travel through the placenta to affect an unborn baby during its development. The most noticeable birth defect is microcephaly, but some studies say that there might be other side effects like lesions in the eye, which could cause blindness in babies.
Keeping pregnant women away from Zika-affected locations is crucial. Some airlines like American Airlines, United Airlines, Lufthansa, and Air France now let any airline attendant who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant switch routes. Pilots are also allowed to do the same.
For European airlines Air France and Lufthansa, these new rules are an added precaution. Already, pilots and flight attendants are switched to ground jobs when they’re pregnant, as a regular safety measure.
Airline Customer Service Pros Encourage ‘Babymooners’ to Opt for Zika-Free Destinations
In Canada, Zika is also a top concern for airlines. Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat, and Sunwing all have policies that allow pregnant travellers to reschedule or cancel flights—although professionals in airline customer service careers recommend double-checking each policy as some require doctor’s notes while others do not.
As you might soon learn during your courses, one hot new travel trend is “babymooning”—this is like a honeymoon for couples just before they have their first baby. For these babymooners, vacationing to a warm and relaxing destination can be a terrific way to get one “last hurrah” in before they’re busy with their new family. However, to help keep these couples safe, many travel professionals are recommending that these couples stay away from Zika hotspots, including:
- Costa Rica
- The Dominican Republic
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