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  • John Robins

IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS ON UNITED AIRLINES


Covid-19 Pandemic which started from China in Early December 2019 was something that the world was not that interested in. The international media also decided it as a secondary news subject. It was a failure and when I say failure I mean a failure which costs thousands of life within the city of Wuhan only. It was too late by the time China told the world about it and WHO (World Health Organization) declared Red Alert. The virus as we all know was spread onto all parts of the Globe through asymptomatic patients. And these patients were everyday infecting many others without their knowledge.



When the news broke out that China has locked down Wuhan due to the outbreak and the number of people dying is crossing hundreds. All the airlines stopped operating to all Chinese cities not just Wuhan or areas close to it. United Airlines also did the same. All the flights flying into China were canceled. Afterward, as the Virus started spreading in South Korea and Japan. United Airlines stopped its flights into their as well for the safety of the passengers. These passengers were either refunded the amount of the ticket or offered an E-credit for their future flights.

Soon after as the spread continued to Europe more and more flights got canceled and voluntary changes were made by the passengers themselves. United Airlines have thousands of flights operating between Northern America and Europe and they have great deals as well. As the frequency of flights between these two continents has always been great. But with Europe being affected badly United Airlines had to cancel all the flights within some time. With the beginning of February, most of the passengers were making voluntary cancellations and changes due to the Covid-19 and were happy to pay for the change fee as well.

By the March United States started getting affected by the pandemic and the number of cases started rising. With this situation numerous flight changes and cancellation were evident. Therefore, United Airlines as a responsible company started waiving off the fees included in changing or canceling their flights in all classes of services. The change fee of USD 200.00 per person, which is to be paid when making changes and USD 200.00 for using future credit in the future were all waived off. Only the fare difference would have to be paid by the passengers which cannot be avoided. With most of its flights grounded and hundreds of thousands of staff to be paid all around the world United Airlines itself was facing an unprecedented time.

United Airlines is currently facing major losses in its business. Yes, it is operating but with major losses. They have already told all their employees all around the world that mass hiring may be done by this year October. Around 36,000 employees of United may be sent on unpaid leaves for the survival of the Airline. No one can be blamed in this situation when airlines like Virgin Atlantic have already filed for bankruptcy.

With the Covid-19 cases increasing at a higher rate with every passing day United Airlines have brought in new policies for the benefit and safety of its passengers. I have mentioned them in detail below.

Face Mask

Face Mask has to be worn by all the passengers and flight crew at all times without any exceptions. The mask should properly cover the nose and mouth area and it is to be only removed while drinking or eating. Only children who are below 2 years old do not have to wear the mask. Rest everybody else has to wear it at all times in the aircraft cabin and also at the airport while issuing boarding pass or passing through security. If anybody denied then the Airline staff has all the right to deny boarding to that passenger.

A Change Fee Waiver

A change fee of USD 200.00 on the domestic flight and USD 300.00 on international have been waived off completely under certain criteria which can be known by calling United Airlines helpline number.

United Airline E-credit

E-Credit is something given when the flight is canceled and in this situation as well for the flights which are being canceled voluntarily or involuntarily are being provided with E-credit. These credits can be used in future flights by the same passengers with the same airlines. But there is a time limit up to which one can use this credit which usually used to be 1 year from the date of booking the flight. But since the situation of Covid-19 has not improved so United Airlines has extended that limit to 24 months from the date of booking the flight. Also, no fee will be included while using E-credit.

Safety On United Airline Flight

Safety while traveling is the top priority for all the passengers these days. Given the situation people are already reluctant to travel and if it is avoidable people are avoiding it but necessary travels have to be made. So the passengers who are traveling these days are doing it as they have no other option but to do that. So United Airlines has made sure that each of its passengers reaches their destinations without any infection under their watch.

Below points are to be noted

1. The highly touched area within United Airlines flight and its boarding areas are regularly sanitized.

2. Employees have been provided with a sufficient amount of hand sanitizers and other necessary items.

3. Electronic disinfectant with a germ kill rate of more than 99 % is used to germicide inside the cabin.

4. Checking the temperature of the passengers boarding the flight to check if they have any symptoms is also being done.

5. Proper distance is being maintained while passengers are boarding or de-boarding the flight to avoid any unnecessary spread of the virus.

6. 4-6 feet of distance is being maintained between passengers at the United Airline agents at the counter even though everyone is wearing a mask.

Then there are certain things which the passengers traveling United Airline will have to take care of such as :

1. Wearing a mask at all times.

2. Washing your hands for at least 20 seconds.

3. Maintaining distance with United Airlines staff and fellow passengers wherever possible.

4. Not touching one's mouth, node, or eye areas.

5. Let the United Airlines representative know if you are having any trouble related to your health so that they can take appropriate measures.

Acting as a responsible situation is not just going to save you and your family but our entire country which is the world’s largest economy, then also the highest affected country by Covid-19.

United Airlines' decision to lay off 36,000 workers after 1st October is a decision taken by the Airline only to keep the business afloat. They made this official statement public to let all workers know about what’s to come. Also, there is a law that forces companies to inform their employees at least 2 months before the actual layout. The date of 1st October is when we can see it is in effect and this also because Federal aid is being provided to United Airlines of USD 25 billion to help it survive for another 6 months and layoffs only after 1st October was the condition made by Federal agency which United will have to comply with.

If you ask United then as per them they need another USD 25 billion so that they can save the jobs of their employees at least by March 2021 but the chances of getting that kind of support from the Govt. is close to impossible.

All this seems unbelievable that an airline of such mammoth size is going through such difficult times.

United Airlines is the 3rd largest Airline in the world with more than 86,000 employees all around the world. It all started when William Boeing started in the Airplane business in 1916. Afterward, he established United Aircraft Corp in 1928. This company from 1928 to 1930 had various acquisitions and renamed many times before being names as United Air Lines. United Airlines used to deliver mails on international routes in those days and then started with the passengers. United also claims that they were the first Airline to introduce the concept of Flight attendant and Dietician on board.

United Airlines started expanding itself as a fully grown domestic carrier. In those days People had to make a stop in order the cross the country from one corner to another, at that time United introduced Boeing 247 which could cover the entire distance in one go. The ticket for one passenger would cost around USD 3000.00 as per today's value.

By 1961 United Airlines surpassed American Airlines to become the second-largest Airline in the world. The first was Aeroflot of the Soviet Union. United was also the first airline to purchase a flight simulator to train its pilots for the new modern planes.

Jumping to the 21st century United Airlines founded the Star alliance with other partner airlines and Los Angeles became the Hub for United Aircrafts. Launching its official website and forming partnerships for code sharing with many major airlines became regular news about United. Horrific event of 2 planes being high jacked by terrorists in Sep 2001 were both United Flights also followed.

United could survive the 2008-2009 recession and then merged with Continental flights to become an even more accessible airline for all their passengers. But there were wrong decisions made by the Airlines which made their stocks plunge like never before. One that occurred in 2017 when one of the United flight was overbooked the Airlines asked any four of the passengers to leave the flight and take the next available one and also offered compensation for the same but sadly there were no volunteers. As a last resort, the Airline chose four selected passengers and asked them to leave out of which one was DR. Dao who refused to leave which was his right to choose from. But sadly the officers who were given the responsibility of this task decided to use force on this Chinese-American medical professional which resulted in this passenger being dragged out with bloody a bloody nose. The incident was filmed by other passengers and became viral in this age of the internet. United Airlines was severely criticized by citizens throughout the country and all media outlets. The CEO of the Airline and other responsible spoke persons had to apologize repeatedly for the immoral actions taken by the law enforcement officers at the scene. But by that time the damage was already done as United’s reputation was kicked around by various media outlets like a soccer ball and subsequently, its stocks plunged to the lowest in many years. One single incident and the name you have made through many years of hard work and perseverance are destroyed in moments. Such is life.

Even after all this United expanded its total passenger carrying capacity within the country and started flying more Airlines into Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. But this Pandemic hit everyone without any exception. United Airlines' decision to lay off 36,000 staff is not something that the Airline had desired to but the need of the time is such that it can’t be helped. The cost is being incurred for the extra safety procedures and all can also not be avoided. Any mistake done here will result in further losses as this news will make everyone reluctant to travel on United. So at the moment, it is best for everyone if the Airlines make sure of all the Sanitization process with the utmost care and we as passengers fulfill our moral responsibility by following the Covid-19 guidelines. This is frustrating but we got to understand that it is frustrating because not all of us have cared about the Coviud-19 situation earlier. If we all have made the right choices by wearing masks and maintain social distancing then the situation would have improved many days ago as it happened in countries like New Zealand and Australia.

Overall Covid-19 does not seem to go anytime soon. Therefore we all must learn to live with it for the safety of our loved one.

For any other information about your United Airlines flight please feel free to call their 24x7 customer service helpline number and they will help you out with all the information you need. There may be a high call volume but that can’t be helped as too many people are confused about the dos and don’ts at this point.

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