A pregnant Canadian woman will get a refund from Air Canada Vacations after she cancelled a trip St. Lucia because of concerns about the Zika virus.
Samantha Dellezay, who is 15 weeks pregnant, and her husband booked their flight in early January using 60,000 Air Miles. This was before the WHO declared a public health emergency over concerns the mosquito-borne Zika virus could cause birth defects.
Though St. Lucia is not on the list of countries affected by Zika, travellers have been increasingly jittery due to the fact that the virus spreads quickly and is already spreading on nearby island Martinique.
“We had been warned by our health-care provider not to travel to that area because of the risk,” said Dellezay.
The airline initially refused to provide a refund.
“It’s really special circumstances, and the airline is not willing to do anything for us,” Dellezay said on Wednesday morning, before getting an update that she would be refunded.
The airline issued an official statement on the matter to CBC News:
“Recognizing customers may have concerns, Air Canada was one of the first Canadian carriers to put in place a flexible booking policy for the Zika virus, based on the recommendations of health authorities such as the WHO and the PHAC. The Zika situation continues to evolve and our policy has changed with it in order to reflect and to account for the changing recommendations of the health authorities, as well as our customers’ concerns. We continue to monitor and adjust our policy accordingly, including dealing with customers on a case by case basis as the need arises.
In this particular case, St. Lucia was not a country identified as a risk by authorities, however recognizing the concern of the customer, we will be offering the option to change plans with no change fee or to obtain a refund as per our policy.”
This case is sign that the St. Lucian tourism industry may see impact from the Zika virus even though the island has not recorded a single case of the disease.