I sometimes get so used to bashing travel suppliers—especially airlines—for the many ways they abuse travelers’ rights, that I often overlook the good they do. Especially during this global pandemic, travel suppliers are doing a lot of good.
From providing free hotel stays for health workers to donating huge sums of money, here are some of the ones we’re seeing step up.
Hotels Stepping Up During the Pandemic
Hotels are offering free or low-charge rooms to communities for housing both caregivers and non-COVID patients. Standout individual hotel offers in hard-hit New York City include those from the Four Seasons Hotel, which was the first hotel in New York City to begin providing free stays to healthcare workers responding to the pandemic.
The Plaza Hotel, Room Mate Grace Hotel, Palace Hotel, St. Regis Hotel, and Yotel are now counted among the hotels hosting health care workers and non-critical patients free of charge. More broadly, the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), a major hotel trade association, notes that more than 6,500 hotel properties that are adjacent to medical facilities across the country are offering temporary housing for health care workers, noncritical patients, and/or the homeless:
“To help match and streamline the process, the [AHLA] is working to create a Hotels for Hope database at the federal level with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as at the local level with industry partner state associations. Local, state and federal government officials will be able to search willing properties based on geographic location.”
Very few are doing it for free, but many are doing it at very-discounted rates. Some are providing food or other support to medical communities. Examples include:
- The Sophy Hyde Park Hotel in Chicago has opened its rooms at no charge to medical staff respondiong to the pandemic at nearby University of Chicago Medical Center.
- Caesars Entertainment has donated more than 250,000 pounds of food to a variety of food banks and charities, along with gloves, masks, and hand sanitizers.
- The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air have provided hundreds of meals to first responders and medical personnel.
- The Jupiter Hotel in Portland, Oregon has arranged with Multnomah County to serve as a homeless shelter.
Airlines Doing Good During the Pandemic
Airlines are also doing their part in fighting the pandemic. As befits their status as the generally top-rated U.S. airlines, Delta has offered free transportation to Georgia, Louisiana, and Michigan for medical professionals, and JetBlue has offered free transport for medical personnel and some stranded college students. JetBlue has also donated a million frequent-flyer points to the Red Cross for travel to support its vital work. United is offering free travel to health workers heading to New York. Airlines around the world have removed seats from regular passenger planes, providing added cargo capacity to ship medical supplies where they are needed.
Airlines around the world have also notably intensified their cleaning and disinfecting procedures to keep their fewer operating planes free of the virus. They’re also rightfully ensuring travelers maintain safe physical distances from each other: A few lines, including American, have stopped assigning middle or every-other seat to maintain social distancing.
And keep in mind that the travel industry is taking a big financial hit from the pandemic. Much of what individual suppliers are doing to minimize effect is as much public relations as it is a public benefit. But, in a difficult time, travel companies are clearly stepping up to help the effort. Kudos to them.
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More from SmarterTravel:
- Travel in the Time of COVID-19: What You Need to Know
- The Dos and Don’ts of Canceling a Trip Due to COVID-19
- The Rule TSA Is Changing Because of COVID-19
Consumer advocate Ed Perkins has been writing about travel for more than three decades. The founding editor of the Consumer Reports Travel Letter, he continues to inform travelers and fight consumer abuse every day at SmarterTravel.