United and Delta will offer daily flights to Iceland and Greece this summer, the first European destinations to open to vaccinated Americans

reykjavik Iceland volcano eruption
Weekend hikers visit the area where a volcano erupted in Iceland.

  • United and Delta will offer seasonal daily service to Iceland and Greece this summer.
  • Both countries are heavily dependent on tourism, and the EU is under pressure to reopen to travelers.
  • International travel was still down more than 75% in March compared with 2019, industry data show.

US tourists eager to go abroad will be able to visit three European destinations this summer, so long as they can prove they are vaccinated against COVID-19.

On Monday, United Airlines announced it would begin seasonal daily service to Iceland and Greece beginning in July.

United’s move follows Delta’s announcement last month that it would offer daily service to Iceland from three US cities (Boston Logan, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airports) beginning in May, and Delta’s route map indicates flights from JFK to Athens will resume in June.

In addition, United will offer thrice-weekly routes to Croatia, reflecting an increase in search activity on its website over the past month, the company told Bloomberg. Each of the European routes are new for United and are as follows: Chicago to Reykjavik, Iceland starting June 3; Washington-Athens, Greece starting July 1; and Newark to Dubrovnik, Croatia starting July 8.

Iceland is part of the Schengen zone of visa-free travel, but is not a member of the European Union, and is therefore exempt from the general restriction on visitors from outside the EU. Iceland Air recently warned international travelers that the country could not be used as a kind of backdoor to the continent, saying, “further travel from Iceland to the rest of Europe is currently not permitted for non-Schengen residents.”

Greece meanwhile just lifted its restrictions for travelers from the US who can provide a vaccination certificate or a negative COVID test result. As an EU member, Greece’s move puts additional pressure on the bloc to reopen travel more broadly.

Both Greece and Iceland are heavily dependent on tourism dollars. Tourism constitutes roughly a tenth of Greece’s economy, and those revenues plummeted 80% as a result of the pandemic. In 2019, tourism represented 42% of Iceland’s economy. In an attempt to incentivize visitors, Iceland Air is promoting round-trip prices as low as $349 and waiving change fees to give flyers greater flexibility when traveling.

Data from an industry trade group shows international travel was still down more than 75% in March compared with 2019.

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Boeing drops after airlines ground 777 planes following engine failure over Denver

Boeing 777
Pieces of an airplane engine from United Airlines Flight 328 sit scattered in a neighborhood on February 20, 2021 in Broomfield, Colorado.

  • Boeing stock fell 3% during Monday’s session in the wake of the engine failure of a 777 plane over Colorado on Saturday. 
  • Boeing recommended airlines suspend the use of planes equipped with Pratt & Whitney PW44000-112 engines. 
  • The National Transportation Safety Board found two fan blades in the United Airlines engine were fractured. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Boeing stock dropped Monday after the aircraft manufacturer recommended that airlines ground certain 777 planes after an engine failure on United Airlines flight rained debris over the Denver area on Saturday.

United Airlines said it will “voluntarily & temporarily” remove 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines from its schedule. The move came after Flight UA328 from Denver to Honolulu experienced an engine failure shortly after departure. The flight landed safely at Denver International Airport.

None of the 229 passengers or 10 crew members were injured, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement. Parts from the plane were found scattered around the Broomfield area, which is located about 22 miles east of Denver International Airport. The NTSB said Sunday an initial examination of the Pratt & Whitney PW4077 engine showed, among other findings, that two fan blades were fractured.

Boeing stock fell as much as 3.1% to $210.83 before trimming the loss to 1.8%.  Boeing’s shares over the past 12 months have lost roughly 33%. United shares, meanwhile, rose 3.5%.  

“While the NTSB investigation is ongoing, we recommended suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines until the FAA identifies the appropriate inspection protocol,” said Boeing in a statement Sunday, referring to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Pratt & Whitney is a subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies. Raytheon stock fell 1.5%.  

Boeing said it supported the decision by the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau and the FAA to suspend operations of 777 aircraft equipped with Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines.

“We are working with these regulators as they take actions while these planes are on the ground and further inspections are conducted by Pratt & Whitney,” Boeing said. 

The UK Civil Aviation Authority said Monday it has suspended the use of planes with Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines in UK airspace. The engines are not used by any UK airlines, it said. 

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FAA orders inspections on Boeing 777 airplanes after one experienced engine failure and dropped debris over Colorado

United Airlines Boeing 777-222
United Airlines Boeing 777-222 takes off at Los Angeles international Airport on September 15, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

  • A Boeing 777 operated by United Airlines experienced engine failure Saturday, dropping debris over Colorado.
  • The FAA is now requiring inspections of all Boeing 777 jets with a particular engine model.
  • United also announced they would be grounding 24 active aircraft as they conduct a review.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration said Sunday he was requiring “immediate or stepped up inspections” of all Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with a particular engine model just a day after one experienced engine failure and dropped debris over Colorado.

“We reviewed all available safety data following yesterday’s incident. Based on the initial information, we concluded that the inspection interval should be stepped up for the hollow fan blades that are unique to this model of engine,” FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said in a statement.

The engine in question is a Pratt & Whitney PW4000 model, which the statement said are only used on Boeing 777 airplanes.

United Airlines, the operator of the plane that experienced engine failure, also announced it would temporarily ground all 24 of its active Boeing 777 planes with that engine model.

In a statement provided to Insider, United said it would work with the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board “to determine any additional steps that are needed to ensure these aircraft meet our rigorous safety standards and can return to service.”

The statement said that United has 52 of these planes, 24 active and 28 in storage, and that the move to ground them should temporarily impact only a small number of customers.

United flight 328 from Denver to Honolulu, Hawaii was carrying 231 passengers and 10 crew members when it experienced engine failure Saturday shortly after taking off. The Boeing 777 aircraft began shedding debris, some of which landed in residential neighborhoods.

One photo shows a large piece of debris that narrowly missed someone’s home. A video taken by a passenger on the plane showed one engine on fire while the plane was in flight.

The plane returned to Denver International Airport and landed safely, with no injuries reported from anyone on board or as a result of the falling debris.

Have a news tip? Contact this reporter at kvlamis@insider.com.

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Cancellation policies for the 4 major airlines show it’s almost impossible for customers to just get their money back

FILE PHOTO: Delta Airlines planes and a British Airways plane (2nd L) are pictured at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, on the day Delta CEO Ed Bastian told employees he was cutting 40% of capacity in the coming months, the largest in the airline's history, in addition to pursuing aid, in SeaTac, Washington, U.S. March 13, 2020.  REUTERS/Jason Redmond/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Delta Airlines planes and a British Airways plane are pictured at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in SeaTac, Washington

  • Throughout 2020, travelers have been forced to cancel or reschedule trips due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Most airlines allow customers to rebook or cancel, but it can be difficult to get a monetary refund. 
  • Here’s what you can do if you have a flight with United, Delta, American, or Southwest that you need to cancel.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

With US passports virtually useless and coronavirus cases spiking in various parts of the country, many Americans are postponing or canceling their travel plans.

A recent rise in coronavirus cases along with the discovery of a new strain means some travelers may continue to postpone or cancel their plans. And on December 16, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated travel guidelines for winter holidays, recommending “postponing travel and staying home, as this is the best way to protect yourself and others this year.”

While airlines have been more flexible than usual with allowing customers to change their reservations, the industry is losing billions of dollars as air travel remains disrupted. 

When it became clear that air travel was going to be on the decline for the foreseeable future, the Transportation Department said “any airline operating in the US, foreign or domestic,” had to refund tickets for flights the airline canceled and couldn’t offer an alternative without a “substantial” schedule change,” as reported in the Wall Street Journal.

Many airlines have placed the responsibility on consumers if they want to change their plans, but if fliers want a monetary refund it can be hard. 

Here’s a look at what the major US Airlines are doing in the case of cancelled plans. 

American 

Tickets that expired between March 1, 2020 and September 30, 2020 can be used until December 31, 2021. The airline has dropped change fees for flights originating from North and South America. Basic Economy fares are still ineligible for change fees.

Customers can change their flight once, but additional fees may apply when rebooking. Destination changes are allowed. 

If a customer wants to cancel their trip, the value of the ticket will be applied to a later date. There is no outright option for customers to get their money back when they cancel online.

American no longer blocks middle seats.

Delta 

Customers can modify their trips, “including any flights purchased before April 17, 2020, departing March 2020 through March 2021 and all tickets purchased March 1, 2020 through March 30, 2021.” The airline has dropped change fees for all flights originating from North America. Destination changes are allowed. 

Cancellations are allowed on Delta, and the value of the ticket may be applied to a new reservation up to one year from the original purchase. Basic Economy tickets are not eligible for refunds. 

Delta will continue to block off middle seats until the end of March. 

Southwest

If a customer using a non-refundable ticket cancels, their funds will be valid until September 7, 2022. Once a customer rebooks the ticket, it will expire 12 months after purchase, following Southwest’s traditional booking rules. 

Southwest does offer refunds via the original form of payment, but only on Business Select or Anytime tickets. 

Southwest no longer blocks middle seats.

United 

United does allow passengers to change or cancel their flights. Tickets issued between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 are eligible for a flight change of equal or lesser value without a fee change. The same rules apply to any canceled flights, with customers receiving credits for use at a later date. The airline has also dropped all change fees – including Basic Economy fares – for flights originating from the US.

In the event that the new booking costs more than the old one, the customer will have to pay the difference. 

United, like American and Southwest, has resumed the sale of middle seats. 

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