U.S. Airlines Suspend Flights, Issue Waivers Amid Israel Conflict
United, Delta, and American Airlines have issued flight waivers to Tel Aviv as cruise lines have altered their itineraries.
Airlines and cruise lines across the United States and around the world canceled flights and diverted ships amid the conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The fighting, which broke out on Saturday after Hamas invaded Israel’s borders, led to a formal declaration of war by Israel. So far, nearly 1,600 people have died on both sides, including more than 900 in Israel, amid a near-continuous exchange of rockets, The Associated Press reported.
The U.S. Department of State, which designates Hamas as a foreign terrorist organization, issued an advisory for U.S. citizens in the area to check with airlines if they intended to fly out of Israel since “several major airlines have announced that they have suspended flights.” The State Department also told Americans in Gaza “who wish to leave and can do so safely” to “check the status of the Rafah Crossing into Egypt.”
Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport remains open, according to the Israel Airports Authority, but several U.S. and international airlines have canceled flights to Israel. A representative for Delta Air Lines confirmed to T+L that the airline canceled flights to and from Tel Aviv through until Nov. 15 and issued a travel waiver for that time period, while American Airlines did the same through Oct. 21.
United Airlines, which also issued a travel waiver for travel to and from both Tel Aviv and Amman, Jordan, through Oct. 14, told Travel + Leisure the airline operated two flights out of Tel Aviv late Saturday and early Sunday before suspending them.
“The safety of our customers and employees is our top priority,” the United spokesperson told T+L. “Our Tel Aviv flights will remain suspended until conditions allow them to resume.”
American Airlines also confirmed to T+L that the airline will be suspending flights to Israel until Dec. 4 and “extended our travel alert providing additional flexibility to customers whose travel plans are impacted by this adjustment.”
Several international airlines have also canceled flights. A spokesperson for Air France told T+L the airline was “monitoring developments in Israel in real time” and suspended flights to Tel Aviv “until further notice.”
A spokesperson for the Lufthansa Group told T+L the airline would suspend flights to and from Tel Aviv through Oct. 14.
British Airways also confirmed to T+L that is it suspending flights to Israel.
“Safety is always our highest priority and following the latest assessment of the situation we’re suspending our flights to and from Tel Aviv,” a British Airways spokesperson told T+L. “We’re contacting customers booked to travel to or from Tel Aviv to apologize for the inconvenience and offer options including a full refund and rebooking with another airline or with British Airways at a later date.”
Cruise Lines have also diverted ships from Israel, including Carnival Cruise Line, which told T+L it would not be stopping there.
Similarly, a spokesperson for Regent Seven Seas Cruises confirmed to T+L the company has altered its sailings in the region, replacing stops in Israel with other ports of call like Istanbul.
“We have strict safety protocols in place and cooperate with local authorities regarding security matters at the destinations our ships visit,” the spokesperson said. “We also have the flexibility to alter our itineraries as needed to avoid areas of concern.
Additionally, Princess Cruises’ Island Princess “will no longer call to Jerusalem/Bethlehem or to Nazareth/Galilee on its November “Mediterranean and Israel” voyages aboard Island Princess. Instead Princess will now call to Santorini, Greece and Crete, Greece,” the cruise line confirmed to T+L.
Holland America will also not make any more calls to Israel for the rest of the year and will adjust its itineraries.