DELHI SMOG FORCES UNITED AIRLINES TO SUSPEND FLIGHTS TO CITY
United Airlines has taken the unusual step to suspend flights to Delhi due to health concerns as the city has suffered debilitating pollution recently. The truly insane Delhi smog has become an emergency situation in the area. What had been an irritation one day quickly became a literal haze that reduced visibility and has even caused accidents for drivers on the city’s clogged roads. The extreme pollution in India’s capital city caused the airline to issue what’s called a travel waiver, meaning customers who had purchased tickets to travel over a five day period would be able to re-book five days after the waiver’s end, possibly before if conditions improved.
TRAVEL WAIVER PROTECTS CUSTOMERS WHO CAN RE-BOOK WHEN CONDITIONS SAFER
An airline representative said, “We are monitoring advisories as the region remains under a public health emergency, and are coordinating with respective government agencies.” United further noted that “when severe weather or other major events may impact our operations, we sometimes issue travel waivers to allow you to change to alternate flights without paying a change fee.” Other airlines such as Etihad, Virgin Atlantic and KLM were not responsive for a comment about their stance on offering travel waivers for their clients. Two other major airlines American and Delta don’t fly to Delhi.
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HAZE A SERIOUS HEALTH RISK, EVEN HAZARD FOR GROUND TRAVEL
The pollution is so severe that both public and private schools in the city were closed. All incoming trucks were banned from entering the city, with a partial ban on private vehicles also applied for the next week. Health concerns have spiked as well over the haze. One monitor measured that the air pollution levels had gone as high as 969, which is insanely higher than the maximum safe level of 25 according to the World Health Organization. These levels measure the concentration of fine particulate matter which measure smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. They are especially harmful as their size enables them to embed deep into lung tissue and also allows them to move into internal organs, creating a serious risk to general health.