Coronavirus (COVID-19): What we're doing to keep customers and employees safe
The safety of our customers and employees is and always will be our top priority. The dynamic nature of this outbreak requires us to be nimble and flexible in how we respond, provide service and protect our customers and employees.
We are committed to helping all of our customers with their travel plans and have multiple change fee waivers in place. It's important to us that everyone gets the assistance they need. We kindly ask that customers with trip dates not within the next 72 hours reach out closer to their trip so we can prioritize those with more immediate plans. If you want to change or cancel and rebook your flight, you can do so on united.com and the United mobile app -- a phone call is not required. See here for step-by-step instructions. We are grateful for your patience in these rapidly-changing times.
Our 24/7 contact with experts informs our response
- Our teams are in daily contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), federal agencies and other global health organizations to share the most up-to-the-minute information.
- United has a team of in-house professionals, including an industrial hygienist who reviews and tests cleaning products and a corporate medical team who are working around the clock.
- United also partners with International SOS/MedAire, an organization that gives all employees ready access to an emergency department doctor for advice and assistance when they are on business outside their home country.
Booking & changing travel
- International & domestic schedule updates: Due to a continued drop in demand and government restrictions, we are reducing our schedule by 60% in April — this includes a 42% reduction across the U.S. and Canada and an 85% decrease in international flights. See schedule details here.
- Rescheduling a trip: If you're scheduled to travel March 10 – April 30, 2020 and would like to change your plans, there is no fee to do so, regardless of when you purchased your ticket or where you're traveling. See waiver details
- Booking a new flight: When you book a flight with us between March 3 and March 31, 2020, you can change it for free over the next 12 months. See terms and conditions
- How to change or cancel your flight: If you want to change or cancel and rebook your flight, you can do so on united.com and the United mobile app -- a phone call is not required. See here for step-by-step instructions.
- For more information visit https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/notices.html
At the airport
- TSA is now allowing passengers to bring liquid hand sanitizer up to 12 oz in carry-on bags until further notice. You should expect that these containers — larger than the standard of 3.4 oz of liquids — will need to be screened separately, which will add some time to checkpoint screening.
- Some of our United Club and United Polaris® lounge locations will be temporarily closed due to due to low visitor starting March 17, 2020. You can keep track of any closings on our United Club and Lounge Locations page.
- We ensure regular disinfection of common surfaces inside our airport terminals.
- We're providing hand sanitizer for use in our crew and break rooms, lounges and gates.
- For passengers requiring a wheelchair, our cleaning and sanitizing specifications include wiping down all touch-points including push bar, brake handle, armrests, seat cushion and foot bar with wipes after every use. At the end of each day, we also spray a sanitizing disinfectant (in addition to the wipes) on all surfaces.
Prepping the aircraft before you board cleaning
All aircraft are cleaned at a variety of touchpoints throughout the day.
- The cleaning procedure for flights includes a thorough wipe down of all hard surfaces touched by customers and employees (lavatories, galleys, tray tables, window shades and armrests).
- United uses an effective, high-grade disinfectant and multi-purpose cleaner.
- Soon, we will start using an electrostatic fogger to disinfect the air and surfaces within the cabin on all international arrivals into our U.S. Hubs, Honolulu and Guam.
When we are advised by the CDC of an employee or customer who has traveled onboard and who is potentially exhibiting coronavirus symptoms:
That aircraft is taken out of service and sent through a full decontamination process that includes our standard cleaning procedures plus washing ceilings and overhead bins and scrubbing the interior.
While you're in flight
- Most United aircraft are equipped with state-of-the-art circulation systems, similar to those found in hospitals, which use a high-efficiency (HEPA) filter to circulate the air and removes up to 99.7% of airborne particles.
- To limit person-to-person contamination, we have instituted the following procedures on board:
- We have stopped refilling used cups and glasses in all cabins and now only make refills in new cups or glasses.
- Customers may now see flight attendants wearing gloves during food and beverage service and pick-up in all cabins.
- Flight attendants will now hand all beverages directly to the customer, instead of allowing the customer to take their own from the tray.
- All tableware, dishes, cutlery, carts and glassware are washed and sanitized.
- We've added supplies for our crews on segments flown to Alert Level 2 zones* and upward: gloves, masks, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, Sani-Com wipes, foaming hand soap, and disinfectant wipes as supply becomes available.
- *Alert Level 2 zones, as defined by the CDC, can be found here.
- We clean and prep the aircraft again using the methods described above for the next set of passengers.
What you can do
According to the CDC, the National Safety Council, and the WHO:
- Wash your hands often – and thoroughly - with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content is a good secondary option
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes with unwashed hands
- Use gloves and masks as needed
- Get a flu shot if you haven't already
- If you're sick – stay home
How to stay informed
For more detailed information about COVID-19, how it spreads and prevention and treatment please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html
Also, the CDC has updated their country index page where you can find up-to-date COVID-19 risk assessments by country.