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Debating Upcoming Trip to Spain Due to Coronavirus

We are supposed to leave the US on the 16th of March to visit Madrid, Cordoba, Seville and Granada. We read what we can find about the virus in Spain and it looks as if the numbers are rising, but slowly...hard to know when you live in the US. My husband (who does have some pulmonary issues) and I feel that if we contracted the virus, we'd most likely get through it but then we could face a quarantine in Spain or possibly one in the US. We can move our trip to the Fall by paying a change fee with American Airlines (unless Spain closes down entry itself---then a total refund is allowed). Another concern is that Spain could understandably shut down major tourist sites we plan on visiting or even the trains (our source of moving from city to city) to slow the spread of the virus. Can anyone help us with reliable information about what is really happening in these areas?

Posted by
114 posts

Do you want advice on your trip? I would cancel March and move it to later in the year, for all the reasons you listed. It sounds like the financial loss to you is nominal, at least.

The end of last week, some people were changing their plans (drop Italy, go instead to France), and yet yesterday the Louvre closed its doors because of the new law about large groups congregating. This virus is moving rapidly, and government officials are scrambling to keep up with it. I would assume that Spain will be in the same boat as, say, France in 2 weeks.

Posted by
1795 posts

So far the major cities of Spain are operating normally, no major impact of COVID-19, no mass closures of shops, restaurants, and tourist sites, like one sees in other parts of Europe. The mood on the street is alert but without alarm. But know it could all change next week, such is the nature and fluidity of the situation. I would wait until next Monday (9/3), if possible, to make your final decision, you are going to have to pay one way or the other.

If you are worried about the virus itself, while Spain has seen slightly more cases than the USA, there have been no related fatalities yet. In fact, Spain recently developed the first effective treatment of Coronavirus, using already approved HIV drugs. A woman in her 60s from Sevilla infected with Coronavirus and pulmonary issues, has seen significant improvement using this experimental AIDS treatment.

For the most up-to-date Spain news (in English) I would recommend this newspaper - https://english.elpais.com/

Posted by
784 posts

We leave tonight for Barcelona, Toledo and Madrid. We've both had flu shots (because we do every year), are taking normal travel precautions, and hoping this means sites will be pleasantly low on tourists!

Posted by
17 posts

I am traveling to Barcelona with a friend on 3/7 - 3/14. I have signed up for the STEP program and confirmed where to find the US Consulate in Barcelona in case of a major emergency. Unlikely, but I am a planner by nature. :-)

https://es.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/barcelona/u-s-citizenship-services/

Emergency Contact Information
Contact the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, located at Calle Serrano, 75, via email at AskACS@state.gov or by phone at + (34) 91-587-2200, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except holidays. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona, located at Paseo Reina Elisenda, in the neighborhood of Sarria, via email at BarcelonaACS@state.gov or by phone at + (34) 93 280 2227, 08:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, except holidays. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

For an after-hours emergency involving a U.S. citizen anywhere in Spain, call +(34) 91-587-2200.

Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

I encourage you to set one of these up for yourself as well:

https://step.state.gov/step/

Posted by
72 posts

Life as usual, virus spreading but no closures at present. It´s like a flu, it´ll most likely be over in a few weeks, as some scientists say. But of course, you never know.

Posted by
484 posts

Today, AA and United joined Delta together in waiving the ticket fees. So if you change to another date you won’t have pay this fee.
The cases in Spain have increased almost double since yesterday’s reporting. Number is close to 120.
Their main concern are Anadulcia region and another one where they’ve been unable to track that it was travel transmitted.
I think cases will increase within EU and U.K. and there will be more closings of sites. That’s my thinking and I hope and pray for it to be wrong.

Posted by
2630 posts

Ultimately it’s up to you to decide. One poster said AA is waiving fees, so that removes any financial disincentive for changing dates. As you’re concerned about a pre-existing condition, seems like the choice is clear.

Posted by
987 posts

Wow! I offer gratitude to the posters who have provided a level perspective to this issue and excellent links to web sites. Great job!
I have helped three parties plan trips for this spring ranging from Spain, Italy and Croatia. All have postponed their journeys to next fall due to the uncertainty of various factors. To be fair, they are all wealthy and able to absorb the financial impacts. We are destined for another journey to England in June and July, but will moniter developments to determine if the trip will proceed. While safety is a concern, we are in our sixties and of good health, the ability to gain enjoyment during the journey is our key focus.
We wish all of you safe and healthy travels.

Posted by
12 posts

As of now I am still planning on flying out of Kansas City on Friday for Rick Steves Barcelona/Madrid tour that starts Sunday evening.

Posted by
23 posts

Thank you all for your thoughtful and helpful advice (love when you add links in for us). We are calling AA today to see how this trip can be moved to the Fall without adding lots of $ into the change. As long as you are still in advice mode, is it better to go there in September or October? We had planned for March because the weather and #'s of people looked great. Neither of us love the heat or crowds...so when then?

I will post later as to how AA dealt with our "change". Thanks again!

I looked at the STEP program. It looks like a wise move to make when traveling, so thanks for adding a new idea for traveling safely.

Posted by
114 posts

As long as you are still in advice mode, is it better to go there in September or October?

October for sure - September will still be hot as the dickens in September in SW Spain.

Posted by
91 posts

Is AA really waiving change fees for flights in and out of Spain? My family and I are supposed to arrive in Madrid late next week and we were told unless I had an official medical letter (for a pre-existing condition that is on the CDC list to avoid non-essential travel) they would not do anything for our flights as Spain has not been considered a "hot zone" yet. Would love to hear how it goes for you and good luck!

Posted by
2630 posts

There’s a link on the General Europe page about American and Delta waving fees.

Another vote for October. It can still be very warm in September. When we were in Andalucia in early September 2014, Spain was in a heat wave and the temperatures were in the mid-90s most days. On that trip we were in eastern Andalucia (Granada over to Cartagena area). STEP is nice for receiving notifications. We generally only use it when going to S. America.

Posted by
274 posts

Note that American is currently waiving change fees only for tickets purchased in the past few days (and select destinations), not all tickets.

Policies are changing rapidly, so best to go right to the airline’s website for current info.

Posted by
53 posts

We are flying on Saturday 3/7 to Barcelona, Granada, Cordoba and Seville for 3 weeks without much alarm. Taking lots of disinfecting wipes for the planes, will wash hands frequently and plan on having a fabulous time. I think there has been a lot of media frenzy - take a breath, wash our hands and don't touch our face. It's not time to panic for us.

Posted by
73 posts

I was in Spain at the end of October till the end of the first week in November. The trip ended in Sevilla. Aside from some light rain at the start of the trip in Barcelona, I would say we still had nice weather. Google average temps for the areas you will visit.

Posted by
23 posts

Today we talked with American Airlines about moving our flight to/from Madrid in October. They are currently NOT waiving fees for tickets bought before March 1. According to the agent, current coach change fee is $275 per person and first class is $500 per person. (Last week an agent told us the change fee was $200 after looking at our flights.) Lastly the agent said we could pay $900 each to cancel totally and get the rest of our money back (we are in business class). It's just crazy in my head. My understanding is we would also pay any difference in change of new flight fares if more than previously purchased. My husband has COPD and so is more susceptible to any virus that affects the lungs. The agent said she did not have the ability to waive the fee for that. IF Spain rules no more people in or out, then AA would refund the full ticket purchase or we could change the time going and they would waive the fee. So far that is not happening. We do have the option to contact customer relations by email on their site and appeal to them for help with the fee. I'm sure that would require a doctors letter stating my husband's issue. That's our next step. Stay tuned and may good health follow the brave flyers out there going no matter what!

Posted by
114 posts

Terry, is AA suggesting that some sort of documentation of health condition from your doctor will change the outcome of this fee? Or are you assuming this?

I would say to go ahead with other attempts to get AA to relent, and maybe even get a doctor's letter as backup. But in the meantime, maybe Spain will get raised to Level 3 by the CDC, or Spain will act on this, or AA will change its mind on flying to Spain when flight crews start balking at the assignment. I suppose you have until the morning of the flight to cancel or change the flight with fees. It feels like as things worsen in some of these countries that it may tip to your favor. Seems like you have nothing more to lose by waiting before making a final decision.

Posted by
23 posts

Wally, yes, I guess I am assuming or hoping a letter might help, but knowing the airlines, probably it will not. However, best to cover all bases and do it, keep watching and reading the news and hold off on the cancellation until we have to pull the plug to save something. We would rather be going, but my husband's health is a priority, so we can't chance it on people and the media giving too much conflicting information. I love this forum as it is a great way to gather information and make decisions for trip. Thanks for your thoughts.

Posted by
13 posts

I am going to Spain in 10 days. I wish I was there now since it will probably get worse the longer you wait or that's my opinion. Everything I have read says it is like a chest cold/flu. I also read that there is very low chance of getting it. I check the CDC travel advisory everyday and there are no alerts for the virus in Spain. I think the media is just spreading fear and that travel is probably perfectly safe. Ultimately it is up to you to decide but, I think it will be around for the rest of the year and only spread to more countries.

Posted by
11 posts

I am planning on going to Toledo and Madrid in 4 1/2 weeks...I'm not too scared of catching it, but am concerned over getting stuck in a hotel if we are quarantined. Also, wondering if the Holy Week processions will still be held.... waiting, waiting, and waiting...

Posted by
784 posts

We've been in Barcelona since Tuesday. Our first trip but locals are commenting how quiet it is. No lines and small numbers at the Picasso museum today at about 10. Spent over 2 hours there, no crowds at all, there or anywhere else we've been. Glorious weather. Very glad to be here. Leave tomorrow for Toledo then Madrid.

Posted by
1795 posts

I don't think you will see mass quarantines of hotels, the one hotel in that was quarantined in Tenerife was more the exception rather than the rule. It seems to me counter intuitive to quarantine healthy people with sick people in the same building.

Posted by
72 posts

Life as usual in the Basque Country, 45 cases at present (twice those of last Monday) for a population of 2.2 million people. No major disruptions, hotels are getting cancellations (mainly from foreign groups) but life in the streets is as normal as any day. People talk about it, but nobody seems to be worried and those that are suffering from coronavirus, when interviewed, describe its symptoms as a strong cold or a mild flu. Those that have died were 99 and 83, and with previous respiratory diseases. Measures taken with doctors (100 are in quarantine) that have been in contact with infected colleagues.

Posted by
23 posts

We did pull the plug on our trip. American Airlines surprised us and waived our fees, and while we did choose to move our trip (as we are not eligible for a refund because Spain is not on the CDC's hot list), we have time to decide when (must be on the trip by the date we purchased the tickets, but can return after the date if desired). The AA agent who helped us previously was correct in having us email Customer Relations on their site. We obtained and offered a doctor's letter but it was not asked for by AA. Hope this info could be helpful to anyone else out there with health issues that put you at risk with Coronavirus. I hope all has gone well for those who decided to travel to Spain and that you had a great trip. We hope to get there sometime in the future.

Posted by
5 posts

I understand entirely what you've been going through and I think you made the best decision possible with the situation we're in right now. We were due to fly to Madrid this morning for a 10-day trek through Cordoba, Seville, Granada, and back for a few days in Madrid. Watching the news closely over the last month, we could see the situation deteriorating in kind of the same way it did in Italy a few weeks ago, and, sure enough, the reported cases doubled overnight last night from around 500 to around 1000. The Spanish health ministry also issued a statement today saying they have a plan to "shock" the virus that they will announce later today. Not sure what that means, but it sounds like things are about to be far from business-as-usual, and we certainly didn't want to arrive just in time for all the museums and cathedrals to close in their "shock" effort.

We're a relatively young family (my husband and I are in our 40s and we were going to be traveling with our 10 and 13 year old), so we're not in the most vulnerable population. But we also realized we didn't want to be the people to carry it back to our community, and since we both work with populations in their 70s and 80s, we definitely needed to be responsible about what we exposed ourselves, and thus our clients, to. We also both have important work obligations the week after we were scheduled to return, so we couldn't end up in a quarantine or delayed situation trying to leave Spain or get back into the US.

In the end, it seemed pretty clear that all signs pointed to postponing the trip. American Airlines let us change with no fee to June, because that's when we booked the tix last year. If things haven't improved by then, we'll just have to eat the change fees and move the trip to later in the summer. We've already got tix to Paris and Prague in the fall and we're supposed to go to China in late May. Obviously, that's in a holding pattern at the moment, as well. Sure hope things clear up for everyone soon and we can get back to traveling!

Just an additional FYI: Our Air BnB stays and experiences all let us cancel without any penalty, which was very much appreciated.

Posted by
73 posts

Terry and Alice,
It appears that you rightly made a personal decision to postpone your trips based on available facts and possible disruptions to your travel that did not appeal to you or your families. I think travelers should make such decisions for themselves, no one can do it for them.
When you finally make it to Spain I hope you have a fabulous time as I did when I visited.