Read the fine print before cancelling your flight due to H1N1

Bringing a jug of hand sanitizer with you when flying is one way to hopefully avoid getting the H1N1 virus, but what to do if you get the swine flu before boarding your flight?

The Centers for Disease Control recommends changing your flight plans and staying home, along with other travel ideas during flu season.

But expensive change fees that most airlines charge discourage travelers from changing their flights. In an ideal world, every airline would waive cancellation and change fees for ill passengers, but we all know that flying can be anything but ideal.

Trying to read through all of the fine print on your airline tickets for cancellation policies can be like trying to read a legal document, which in a sense it is.

Consumer Traveler recently ran a story about how it contacted airlines for their change fee policies regarding swine flu, and only United Airlines responded with a written policy. MSNBC also looked into such policies, and here's a rundown of what both sites reported:

AirTran Airways told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution it will waive any cancellation or change fees for people who can show a doctor's note saying they had swine flu.

United Airlines has a written policy that it will refund fees for a serious illness with a doctor's note stating inability to fly. According to MSNBC, Virgin America and Continental also have written policies waiving change fees for customers who can provide documentation of illness from their doctor.

Delta Air Lines told Consumer Traveler it works with ill passengers no a "case-by-case basis. When a doctor note is supplied change fees will be waived and travel must be completed with one-year from the purchase date of the original ticket."

Again, Delta's change policy for swine flu wasn't in writing, only in an e-mail from a Delta spokesperson.

JetBlue and Northwest also handle change fees on a case-by-case basis, according to MSNBC.

MSNBC also points out that a non-refundable ticket on American or US Airways can be changed for illness for $150, plus the difference between the old and the new fares.

And best of all is that Southwest Airlines doesn't charge for canceling or changing a flight if you're sick.

That's got to be the easiest policy: No hassles from your airline if you're sick.
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