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November 25, 2021

Would you still fly if you had the swine flu?

Ask anyone the above question, and the response you’ll get is a vehement, explicit, fervent “NO!”

And of course it is. What kind of monster, knowing the societal health risks, would willingly board a plane and turn it into a giant, vapour-sealed Petri dish at 40,000 feet?

But after you read this, toss the idea around once more for fun. It’s likely people might start thinking twice.

According to a new story from CNN, some U.S. airlines aren’t allowing passengers with the swine flu to switch flight dates without hefty cash penalties.

The news network cites a Dallas Morning News report of a family who recently had to butt heads with American Airlines over the issue.

When his 6-year-old daughter came down with the swine flu two days before their flight, the family’s father called the airline about rebooking the ticket.

American Airlines said he’d have to pay a $150 cancellation fee per ticket to do so. How much did they originally cost? $189 each.

“I suggested with this policy that they are almost forcing people to fly when they have the swine flu, therefore subjecting others to (it),” the dad complained.

Indeed, while some airlines like Delta and United will reschedule your flight at no cost, US Airways and American likely won’t budge (not even with a doctor’s note, like the above father tried).

North of the border, Air Canada – for example – also appears to stand pat on the issue. While the Health Tips section of its website clearly suggests passengers “delay your trip if you are not well,” you can’t do so without getting dinged. That is, unless you’ve bought cancellation insurance ahead of time, which can be pricy.

So, does knowing this change your mind on the issue?

If you’re one of the seemingly increased H1N1 victims these days, do you simply have to suck it up and go ahead with your flight? It may not be pleasant – or admirable – but in this every-dollar-counts economy, how are we supposed to say no?

“It is clear people should not fly when they’re infected, but they should also not be penalized for being responsible citizens,” Dr. Stephanie Haridopolos, a U.S. physician, told CNN.

“The current policies force people to choose their pocketbook versus their health.”

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...