Do You Cancel Trips When Sick? That’s My Dilemma Right Now…

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I’d like to think I have a pretty strong immune system, which is probably a result of spending my life on planes and in hotels. It’s not often that I get sick, and when I do, it’s usually just a common cold, where I have a sore throat for a few days, followed by a runny nose for a few days. I don’t really believe in prescription medication for things like this, though I do take natural supplements like echinacea, vitamin C, etc.

Well, right now I’m sick for the first time in several months. I got back to the US from Beijing on Monday, and felt like crap. It was an especially rough trip for me in terms of jetlag and sleep deprivation, which probably contributed to my cold. I’ve had an extremely sore throat for the past couple of days. It’s much better this afternoon, so I suspect the runny nose will be starting very shortly. Regardless, I feel lightheaded and weak.

Beijing-Summer-Palace

That brings me to the dilemma I’m facing — I’m scheduled to fly back to China tomorrow morning, thanks to a cheap fare I booked a while back, which I was able to immediately upgrade to business class. I don’t remember the last time I’ve canceled a non-refundable trip due to being sick, and I’m going back and forth about what to do here.

On one hand:

  • It’s a cheap fare with upgrades to business class confirmed, and I’d pay a $300 penalty for canceling the ticket (not to mention that I probably won’t find another fare this cheap anytime soon)
  • I’m in hotels anyway, so it doesn’t really matter whether I’m in the US or China
  • The flight is nonstop, so I don’t think being in a flat bed for 14 hours is going to make me feel much worse

American-Business-Class-787-2

On the other hand:

  • Why would I voluntarily get on a plane when I’m not feeling well?
  • I certainly don’t want to spread germs, though as a germaphobe I try to at least be mindful of what I do when sick, and at least I’m in business class, so I have plenty of distance from other passengers; along those lines, if airlines didn’t have punitive change fees, maybe people wouldn’t have an incentive to fly when sick

What also makes this interesting is that I paid for my flight using the Citi Prestige® Card. I used that card because it offers triple points on airfare purchases, but more importantly because the card also has fantastic travel delay & cancelation coverage. Technically that coverage applies when “you become sick or injured, and a doctor confirms in writing that it’s severe enough to interrupt or cancel your trip.”

I’m not sure how exactly that works in practice. I’ve never gone to a doctor for a common cold, and I’m not sure if a cold is considered “severe enough to cancel a trip.”

So I’m curious what you guys do in a similar situation — do you adjust your travel plans when sick? If so, what goes into your decision making process? What would you do in my situation?

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Comments

  1. Do you have a fever? If so, you are potentially contagious and should stay at home.
    If your illness is limited to mild discomfort such as a running nose, sore throat, and cough, I would pack extra tissues and hand sanitizer and head to the airport. If you might be sick in the airplane, you feel unable to walk, or your symptoms are worsening, I would cancel the ticket and return to China another day.

  2. Go to an Urgent Care and have a doc prescribe some meds so you can go on the trip. For sure would be a shame to miss out.
    But if you don’t want to go to the doc, maybe better to suck it up and stay State side. If things were to take a turn for the worse, better to be State side instead of being in China.

    Just my 2 cents

  3. My parents used a trip cancellation benefit with their Citi Prestige card and basically as long as the doctor puts on stationary that it is not in your medical interest to fly you are fine. They are not going to question it. But I get your point about going to the doctor for a cold can be a waste of time. I mean there is also emergency medical evacuation on the citi card if it gets worse in China…hopefully you don’t have to find out how that works. If it was me as long as I felt pretty confident it was just a cold I would probably go. If I thought it was more severe than that I would go to the doctors and use the Citi benefit. Either way hope you feel better and at the end of the day you should do what feels right for your health and not lets us make you feel like you have to go for the blog.

  4. Given that (a) you don’t actually need to take the trip, (b) the cancellation penalty is minimal, (c) you have cancellation insurance, (d) the viruses you’ll be spreading all over the cabin can potentially live for days outside the body, and (e) the airlines certainly don’t disinfect the planes between flights, I really don’t see why you’d even consider going.

    Look at it this way. By your own admission, this is a pretty bad cold you’ve got. How many people would you be comfortable giving it to just so you can rack up some more (recently-devalued) miles? Conversely, if someone asked if they could give you this cold so they could rack up some miles, how would you respond?

  5. When I had to canx my UA flights a few months ago due to illness, I got a dr note, emailed it to them, and got the change fee waived. AA might do something similar, which would allow you to at least use the credit to another AA flight (or get a full refund)

  6. It might be a good test of that Citi Prestige card benefit. You could visit an urgent care, call your PCP, or even try to find a telehealth provider. You could even write the text of the letter & ask them to write it or sign it for submission to Citi Prestige.

    Also another option you didn’t mention was going to the airport. Tell them your sick, they don’t want sick people flying or they don’t want the possibility that your aircraft may have to divert. Regardless of what the official policy of the airline is, the airport can do anything! Such as change your dates, refund your ticket, refund to a voucher, etc.

    You may or may not get an agent who will do anything but they can they have those permissions in the system and there thing is operations. They are less concerned about company BS bureucratic rules at the airport. This incidentally is regardless of which airline you are flying. I think also if they know you at the airport they may be more likely to hehlp you.

  7. Go see a doctor (or an urgent care clinic) and get checked out. Tell the Doc about your flight and ask if you are contagious. If the answer is no, then you can go (back to Beijing). If you are contagious, the doctor should be more than willing to write you a note (so you can cancel and take advantage of the Citi Prestige cancellation benefit). If you are seriously sick and contagious, you have an ethical obligation to not go, IMO.

  8. Keep in mind if you have a cold, your ears and sinuses are going to give you problems because of the pressure changes. I had to fly home with a cold last year after Thanksgiving, and it was extremely painful.

  9. A US airline refused to let me change my travel date one day forward (from a peak day to an off peak day) when I had a bad ear infection and a note from an urgent care physician to not travel via air for 48 hours.

    Then, I contacted them on twitter. Magically, 30 seconds later the flight was changed.

    LUCKY, you could also just take the trip and buy an annual worldwide travel insurance plan. These plans provide free Private-Charter Jet transport back to the USA as long as you are admitted (for however short a time span) to a foreign medical facility. I’m sure they have lie flat seating, but I doubt they award air miles.

  10. If you’re already lightheaded and weak, what are you going to do if your condition requires medical care in China, and potentially being grounded there, if it’s determined you can’t fly? Think this through. Have you sought medical care in China in the past to know what to expect there, or even know where you would go? The fact that you’re not even mentioning at least a phone call to your doctor’s office in the U.S., and you’re turning to blog readers to offer advice, seems a little odd to me in light of the symptoms you’ve listed.

  11. Unless you can change your flight by sending in a doctor’s note (like the guy above me said), I would go for sure! There’s a chance you could feel better tomorrow or after the flight or within couple days — so big deal! Just take lots of ibuprofen and sleeping pills and sleep it through. That would be my solution 🙂

    Good luck!

  12. I would love for you to write about the city prestige trip cancellation policy? While I haven’t been to Beijing, I would think this would be of more interest to your readers and another Beijing flight on AA.

  13. I got a cold days before a trip to Hawaii. I just stocked up on nyquil & dayquil and mucinex. Was at about 95% for the trip.

  14. Sorry you aren’t feeling well, and it sounds like you haven’t gotten to the worst of your cold yet. I would be hesitant to travel if there was any ear pain or if you are prone to ear infections, as they can hurt like the dickens at 35,000 ft. At the bare minimum whether you take the flight or stay, your body needs rest and fluids, not to mention any meds if you do have an infection. Hope you feel better soon, whatever you choose!

  15. @ Ben — I am pretty sure AA would be willing to cancel and hold the remaining value of your ticket for future use without imposing the $300 penalty (and probably without any documentation). DL and UA have done this for me and the Queen more than once. Even the old US Airways did this for FCQ when she had surgery on her foot and no elite status.

  16. That’s a hard one but I returned home from a trip in India with what I thought was a cold & cough which seemed pretty mild. It turned out to be pneumonia. I had no clue. So there’s that.

  17. As others have said, find out for sure if you are contagious. If you are, it’s a no-brainer. Don’t go.

    BTW – there is no prescription medicine which will help a cold 🙂

  18. I wouldn’t cancel a trip if I just had a cold, but an overall malaise would make me think twice. ESPECIALLY if I have a fever – I never know which countries have the infrared scanners set up and wouldn’t want to get in trouble with authorities for not reporting one.

  19. One area that you might have to consider is the health screening which they do at the arrival airport. During the initial outbreak of the H1N1 flu in Asia back in 2009, i landed at HGH airport (Hangzhou) and was detained because of elevated body temperature. Spent a day in a military hospital being quarantined while waiting for test results.

    Something to consider when traveling international while sick!

  20. Chug some Robutussin DM, take a sudafed and some aspirin and go for it.

    If you have time to go to urgent care, get a shot of prednisone.

  21. Go to urgent care first. Thenn wear a Hello Kitty mouth mask like what Chinese and Taiwanese people do. They wear them on the planes anyway. Drink lots liquid, and by liquid I mean champaign. Alcohol kills germs. If you feel worse after you land, take a flight to Taipei where medical care is cheap and excellent. You can get a shot to cure your cold there easily for $20.

  22. I would skip going. You just got back 3 days ago, I’m sure you will go again.

    Flying is pretty bad on the body and I feel this could make you even worse, and then you would have the joys of finding medical attention in China to add to that.

    Try to change the date of the trip.

  23. My sister (9 y.o) was quite sick on a flight from home to Osaka, but managed to recover really quickly. Fourteen hours won’t really do you any worse, but be sure to rest up once you’re in Shanghai. That said, if you were doing JFK-MAD-FRA-MCT-BKK-MCT-FRA-CDG-YYZ, I would have suggested you cancel it.

  24. I have rescheduled trips when I wasn’t well enough to travel. But I’ve also traveled with a cold.

    However, I don’t travel all that frequently and make a lot of plans that get paid for in advance (guides, hotels, etc) where postponing or canceling are not easy. Given how much you travel I’d imagine that skipping one trip wouldn’t be such a huge deal.

    As noted above though, did you use a credit card that has any trip cancellation insurance.

  25. You sound like you are hoping we say you should cancel.

    You should cancel.

    You haven’t given a good reason to go (which would be that you would have more fun going than staying home, or you wouldn’t make Exec Plat if you didn’t go)

    I often soldier through, but it’s a much more limited opportunity for me.

  26. Bagging the trip is the biggest no brainer in the history of earth.

    You don’t HAVE TO make the trip, as in there’s tons on the line for your future or a true emergency.

    The cost to can the trip isn’t huge.

    Things could turn out to be worse, and you’ll be exposed to more unfamiliar germs, while you’re away. Your health is better at home.

    The flight will be uncomfortable. You won’t get as much out of the trip itself while you’re sick.

    And you may be making those around you sick.

    Against all that I cannot really come up with a good reason why you SHOULD go…

  27. I am a physician. Please don’t get on the plane this sick just because you have a ticket. It won’t be good for you or anybody else. Just go to urgent care, tell them your symptoms, which are more than common cold– and maybe the flu. You might benefit from Tamiflu. Then ask for a note indicating you are ill and visited the doctor so you can use it to avoid getting on an airplane as scheduled. I’ve written these notes out on a prescription pad even–though letterhead is probably better. Citi isn’t in the business of deciding your medical care,or the severity of your illness– they just need something to prove you’re really sick.

  28. No. I rarely get sick and if in your condition I would definitely fly. And I believe from my experience on many TransAtlantic flights that many people fly sick. Fortunately, at this point in my life, I’m usually up front so I’m isolated from others and if sick myself, I probably won’t be spreading it around. I am very comfortable in planes and hotels and consider them no worse than being at home so I just gut it out. Only once did I postpone a flight and that was due to urgent dental work.

    Hope you get well soon. Drink lots of fluids!

  29. just last week I had to fly to Iceland and since I was connecting in LHR, the 6hour flight from IAD-LHR didn’t warrant the use of my UA SWU’s. I’m not sure if it was the partying before I traveled or the jet lag and lack of sleep or the flu like weather Reykjavik had in store but I felt sick all week. And its a pretty terrible feeling being sick in a hotel room in a place so far from home. I made do with my stack of ibuprofen all week but I could not wait to board the UA LHR-LAX ride home (where my upgrade had cleared to bidnez)! 11hours seemed too short west bound but I slept well and was so happy to be home!

    Now if I was in your shoes, already sick and then heading to China? Yah unless I HAD to be there, I wouldn’t risk it…no interest in seeing the inside of a Chinese state run hospital or trying to explain my symptoms to the hotel staff when my head is pounding….Whatever you decide, good luck!

  30. Ben,

    This bug you may have has been going around LA for a while now, i and many friends have been struck down with this. If it is that, you’ll be sick for more than a few days. I’m normally immune to most things but that knocked me out for a while. Skip the trip. Urgent care is a little drastic in my opinion, just rest up, plenty of fluids and some vitamins you’ll be fine.

  31. Any chance you have allergies? I was really lightheaded for the first two days of allergy season.

  32. Heidi was sick this week and didn’t feel up for the trip back to LAX on BA. I got a note from her doctor, called BA, emailed in the note, and they immediately cancelled her ticket and said that whenever she was well enough to fly, just give BA a call and they would put her on the next available flight.

    I was actually shocked. I bet a friendly AA agent would do the same thing.

  33. Ye gads, follow the golden rule, dude: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’, i.e. not knowingly spread a strain of virulent bacteria among the public at large, in an enclosed aluminum/carbon fiber tube at 38,000 feet, no less! What are you trying to do, emulate a made-for-TV disaster movie? Stay cloistered in your home, get medical help for your sickness, get well before flying on a leisure trip. I’m certain that if you Twittered, facebooked the fact that you’re planning on boarding that particular flight and day that enough fellow passengers reading it would quickly contribute cash to a don’tmakemesickfundme.com site to pay the cancellation fee. Once I read ‘returned from Beijing’ that was enough to convince me that you brought back a souvenir de Chinoise.

  34. I’m amazed how many Dr’s are on here! Lol! I flew SEA NRT BBK economy with a fever of 103F back in the day during Asia’s freak out on bird flu. Worst flight of my life. Landed in BKK to 90 degrees and 90% humidity. I started to get sick the morning of the flight. Suck it up fly on! Nyquil/Dayquil and go buy some surgical masks (you will fit right in once ya get to china!) Change them every 20 mins though that’s all they are good for. Another option call Dr OZ I’m sure he’s got some sound advice. My Marine Corps buddies would say whiskey up cowboy!

  35. Gary said it. Flying to someplace where getting good care could be tough if you need it is quite the gamble.

    Stay somewhere where you can get to a good doc if you need.

    Listen to your body, don’t try to override it. You’re not 18 anymore. Those upgrades confirmed at booking time are sweet, but let it go. Recoup, and kick ass on your next scheduled trip.

  36. Got sick in the middle of a recent trip, before flying home.
    Doctor stated the condition was contagious and advised to postpone the flights. Followed the doc’s advice and glad I did.

    Currently trying to get reimbursed for hotels/fee changes with Chase Sapphire, Barclays Matercard AA and Chase Hyatt.

    Feel better Lucky

  37. I vote for canceling. I’ve flown twice while pretty sick – once years ago on Air France in J and just last month on Etihad in their First Apartment on the A380 to JFK. With a fever of 102. It was no fun and it doesn’t get much better than that for sick bay. I was so thankful not to be in J, much less coach. Trust me, being sick on a flat bed seat in a plane is in no way the same as curled up in bed at home. Besides, this is when Ford has a chance to shine. 🙂

  38. Google the “sock trick” for fighting colds. It works – seriously. Hope you feel better.

  39. Cancel your trip and spare yourself the misery. It’s worth the $300.

    If you’re light-headed, you probably have a fever, and probably any doctor would say you shouldn’t travel. But keep in mind that if you do go to an urgent care doc for a note, if you don’t have insurance (or have crappy insurance, or haven’t met your deductible yet), you could end up paying close to $300 anyway.

    You best bet is to have an aunt or someone who’s a doctor! 😉

  40. Sock trick? Are you kidding me? This is how wearing wet socks to bed is supposed to work:

    ” let me briefly explain why the wet socks help. After putting on the socks, you’ll climb into bed and drift off to sleep. While dreaming sweet dreams, your feet will be doing all the work. The vessels in your feet will constrict as your feet cool down, which sends all the good nutrients into your organs and tissues. These nutrients are needed to fight off infections and stimulate healing. Then your feet will start to warm up again, and your vessels will dilate to release the heat. This is when the junk in your tissues is dumped into your blood stream so that your body can dispose of it. The alternating of hot and cold creates a pumping mechanism that stimulates your circulation and lymphatics. The results are an active immune system and decreased congestion. By the morning, your socks will be completely dry. ”

    There is no other word to describe this other than bullshit.

  41. Wow. You guys, seriously? My friend had cancer remission and had to get hospitalized and Turkish airlines wouldn’t give her a credit or refund. She had really good deal/cheap ticket and we figured that was the reason. Maybe she should post a story on reddit or someplace to shame the airline. And people are getting refunds for much less.

  42. I would fly while sick if the airline did not allow reschedule or cancellation without charging a penalty/fee. If the airlines cared about customers and did not want ill people to travel, they would allow reschedule due to illness without penalty.

  43. At a minimum, go to a doc-in-a-box clinic and make sure you’re not contagious. Definitely DON’T get on a plane if you are! Even if you’re not, though, you might think about canceling, anyway. I had to fly home from India once while on the rebound from a cold. Doctor said it was OK to fly, but let me tell you, it was uncomfortable as heck. Not only would my ears hurt like the dickens at takeoff, but they stayed blocked for the better part of 24 hours after descending. Not fun. And I might add, I sure as heck wouldn’t want to take the chance of needing to obtain medical care in China…

  44. I would neither go, nor enjoy sitting near a sick person.

    Should you decide to go anyway (maybe you’ll feel better tomorrow?) it might be useful to know that US consulate websites often have lists of english-speaking doctors and private-pay medical facilities they recommend. Need more options? Check UK, Australian consul websites for more.

    Somewhat unrelated – or not the way you travel. Serious flu inHelsinki right now sending middle-aged people to ICUs in some cases. Good luck.

  45. Your need to be in a high humidity environment. A plane is the worst place to be when you are sick. Stay home and take care of #1. The air in China is not likely to help you at all. (Just been there).

  46. If I had a fever (or was contagious), I’d cancel. They definitely scan temperature in Beijing and I wouldn’t want to be detained, not too mention infect others. This is exactly what travel insurance is for! Surprised you don’t have an annual plan given all the travel you do.

  47. Cancel for sure, for yourself and others, plus you’ve been many times already. Then write about the city prestige benefit application. Lots of us would be very interested!

  48. As a physician, I am amazed at the number of people telling Lucky to go for it.

    Stop being such selfish douchebags and consider all the other people he could infect while flying, some of whom MAY LITERALLY DIE. All to avoid paying $300? Are you kidding me?!? As Steve L said, think about that Golden Rule… Hell, I’d offer to write you the doctor’s note myself if I weren’t in another country and a non-clinical specialty!

    As for face masks, the really good ones we use in hospitals when working on TB patients etc. were found to break down in 20 minutes during the SARS outbreak. The ones you get in stores and see all over Asia might catch a big glob of spit or snot, but that’s about it. All those little airborne viruses pass right through.

    For those suggesting sock therapy or consulting Dr. Oz, please stop. Stupidity like that is the reason communicable diseases are making a comeback in the US.

  49. I would cancel the trip, especially since you don’t HAVE to go. Nothing is worth as much as your health and well-being.

    But, if you do decide to go, I would definitely take Sudafed–the type you have to go to the prescription counter for and show ID (i.e., pseudoephedrine), not the fake stuff you can buy over the counter. When I’ve had colds and my sinuses were all messed up, but I had to fly, I found Sudafed works wonders.

  50. Hey Ben,

    A great tool to insure immediate access to a licensed US doctor whether you are at home or overseas is Doctor On Demand. You could use this service to satisfy your trip cancellation provisions. The service is very convenient, inexpensive, and efficient.

    They have an app that lets you see a doctor from your smartphone, laptop, tablet or computer. I tried it – I loved it! I used it to get an anti malarial prescription prior to leaving the US for Africa on short notice. In addition, I have the peace of mind that we now have access to an English speaking Doctor no matter where in the world through the app.

    You or your readers can use my code “john38” to get your first 10-15 minute Video Visit FREE!
    If you sign up, I get credit too. Download the app or register here: http://bit.ly/dodshare

    After the first free one, visits are only $40. Plus they accept some insurances. No long waits, no driving, no sitting in a waiting room full of sick people. It’s very convenient. 24/7 too

    BTW, as a retired airline pilot, I avoided flying with a cold to prevent painful and potentially serious ear and sinus issues. Just saying…..

    Safe travels.

  51. Coconut oil will clear up a cold.

    I’ve used (am using?) the Citi Prestige’s trip delay insurance and am so far disappointed. My delay was in December, my paperwork’s been complete for over a month, and I still don’t have payout. Of course, it’s still better than no insurance.

  52. Hi Mr. Lucky,

    I’ve been a super big fan of your travel blog since year 1. ThanX! This is my first post on your blog. I live in North Naples, 41 avios hahaha, and I have the cure for you. You will say that it’s avios. I wanted to be a blog writer for you; however I couldn’t give a set # of hours per week. Please email me and you will not get sick again or just feel a little down for a day. I wanted to start my own blog and I have a “cool” name for it. Perhaps you can open the door and we can be just friends. I also have a 1st boyfriend who works for an airline that you have never covered in any post. Thank you in advance!

  53. Better than getting sick on arrival. I flew PEK-SEA-DTW-FCO about two years ago all consecutively with about 2 hour connections in each city. Right as I landed in FCO I felt like crap. Even worse is I was only there 2 days. Simply stocked up on cold meds at a store on the way to my hotel and pushed through the two days of sightseeing.

    As long as you don’t have a fever I would go.

  54. You should not go on this trip.
    1) stuffed sinuses means extreme pain on takeoff and landing
    2) if you have a fever on landing, you may be quarantined. All Chinese airports have infrared sensors that record arriving passenger temperatures. (They’re right before immigration. You may have noticed them.)

  55. go the airport and the gate. Ask a supervisor to change your flight or to DENY you boarding due to your medical reason. Airline policied vary but you will likely get a full travel credit or full refund.

    Another amusing fine print fact in some us contract of carriage’s…. gate will deny you boarding if you are not wearing SHOES .. and their only listed recourse is to refund your airfare in full.

  56. I think you should definitely go. And report back on what it’s like in the military hospital in China once you’re detained.

  57. get a blood test – just to rule a virus infection, better to be safe than sorry, especially with your lifestyle

  58. First off, I hope you feel better. Secondly, I’d withhold from making a final decision until tomorrow morning. Do you actually have a fever? What’s your body temperature? I’ve travelled before with a cold and managed to be fine. If I had a fever and am exhausted (meaning I can barely get up), then I’d cancel the trip. If it’s the common cold, then I’d think twice on how important the event is. From what you wrote, it sounds like you don’t have any plans of writing a trip report on this upcoming trip to PEK so perhaps it’s for the best to cancel? If travelling with a cold, I always bring decongestant pills with me to avoid getting ear pressure issues during the landing.
    Good luck! I hope you feel better very soon.
    I haven’t been to PEK in a few years but do they have a section in arrivals where health officials look at your body temperature through a camera? If so, then perhaps think twice before travelling tomorrow.

  59. Whilst travelling to Shanghai last week one of my colleagues told me of his experience of getting hauled off to Chinese quarantine when during the recent MERS alert. It did not sound fun 24 hour in a hospital isolation room with no one telling him what was going on before but released onto the a random street in Pudong without even his carry on luggage which was still at the airport.

    I wouldn’t want to chance that.

  60. United charged me $300/person to change a flight after having to change my flight due to my wife’s pregnancy. Good luck.

  61. To answer many peoples’ questions here, if you are coughing, sneezing and having a runny nose, then you ARE contagious. The virions can linger on surfaces for long, esp if thorough disinfection is not done. Aircraft only receive a cursory cleaning on a regular basis, so the surfaces will remain infective much after you’re gone. And conside this-what causes a minor infection in you and results in you having an uncomfortable flight can result in a severe infection in someone else. It’s irresponsible to take an unnecessary trip in your condition.
    Make an informed decision.

  62. I also know someone who was quarantined upon arrival in China with a minor ailment, back during the swine flu panic in 2009. He was stuck there for a week and while he was treated reasonably well it was definitely not a preferable experience, especially if you have a flight home to catch! Probably not worth the risk…

  63. And all the people who are telling you to look out for yourself are forgetting to tell you to look out for others as well. You are voluntarily and knowingly boarding an aircraft for a trip that serves no purpose at a time when you are shedding viruses. Your copassengers, some of who may be immunocompromised, will have no way of resisting exposure to you. As you often say, all the cattle class passengers have to pass through premium cabins when boarding, in effect walking through a cloud of virus particles.
    The $300 cancellation fee should be the last thing you worry about.

  64. I agree with everyone who said you shouldn’t go. Please consider whether potential deterioration of your health due to changes in pressure and reduced humidity AND the possibility of being confined to a Chinese quarantine center is worth $300. Your body needs some rest and whether you love or hate traveling, sleeping 14 hours on the plane is not the same as 14 hrs at home.

  65. I’d be seriously more concerned about developing a fever than feeling unpleasant during the journey. Every Asian airport I’ve been to lately has “quarantine” inspections where they have heat sensors looking for fevers. It’d be more concerned about getting slapped with a quarantine if you landed with a fever. So… go to a doctor. Especially if you’re feeling lightheaded. See what you have, and go from there.

  66. Think of it this way, by cancelling the trip and then writing about it you will be able to give your readers a practical how to post on changing trips when sick and credit card travel insurance. I, for one, would find that really interesting. Plus, on a practical level flying while sick can make you much worse off.

    Years ago, I tried to get a doctor’s note to use my travel insurance the doctor refused. I ended up having to fly the trip and the ascents and descents were complete torture because of congestion in my sinuses. When I got back to the states I changed doctors.

  67. Don’t even consider going. If you are not well now the travel will make you worse no matter what you are dosing yourself with. Rest, with chicken soup, is what you need now. Is Ford around to fuss over you?

  68. Lucky this is the time where you need to break down and face reality that you need antibiotics. What are you allergic to? If you can take Augmentin, take it, but if not then get on some Levaquin 750 asap and take the flight.

  69. Drink more champagne to get ridd-off of the cold!

    The natural sugar inside it will help your body to get well soon.

    I mean one or two full bottles 😉

  70. I’m not sure which is worse, Dr. Google or some of the comments on this blog post. Coconut oil? Augmentin?

  71. Buckley’s, bourbon, otrivin. I used that combination when I had a fever on the way to Rome. Flying in business made it way easier to do. You will end up in a bit of a haze and I’d recommend staying away gro. The champagne and nursing the booze other than that it was fine.

  72. @Zach: How is that rude? At worst it’s a futile but well-intentioned gesture. Don’t be “that atheist”.

    @fred: Since it’s most likely the flu or a viral URTI, no antibiotics unless a real doctor examines him and says otherwise. This is how we get antibiotic resistance.

  73. A mild cold , sleep on the plane, forget the champagne and relax in the hotel in Beijing.
    It’s an occupational hazard in your line of work. Eat more vegetables : those sweets, cakes , cookies and snacks don’t boost the immune system anymore than echinacea or vitamin C do,ie close to zero.

  74. WHY are you worried about this? Do you have something critical to do there?? I’d cancel that in a heart beat cause my comfort is worth a lot more. (If I flew like you.) Of course, you do live in hotels and I’d hate being sick in a hotel room too. Home is the only place I want to be when sick.

  75. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When you’re young, your body can cope with this wear and tear. As you get older, that recovery time is going to take longer and longer. If you’re sick, I don’t care if you’re in F class or Residences, it can’t compensate for good health when you’re flying sick.

  76. When I’m sick, the last place I want to be is on an airplane, and I only fly in premium cabins. Actually, sometimes when I have to travel for work, I hope to get sick so I can cancel the trip.

    I’d click “skip” on this one.

  77. Ben, I was on that PEK-DFW flight with you on MON-04-APR-2016, I asked you on the jet-bridge “is your name Ben?” That was a miserable trip for me as I was coughing the entire time. I had the FA bring me boiling hot water so I could let the steam go up into my sinus. I coughed the entire trip. I started coughing before I even went to PEK but it got worse. The more I laid flat in my wonderful row 1 seat, the worse the coughing was. I had gone DFW-HKG the weekend before and must have picked it up on AA137, tons of people were sneezing and coughing. I even had my mouth mask on, eye shades on and ear plugs in. My doctor got me a Z-PAC on Monday and I have been on that. Somewhat better but not much. Went back again today, Thursday, got a different antibiotic. Still can’t sleep the night, spend most of it coughing.

    (1) I suggest do not fly. The fee is $250, isn’t it? You mentioned $300.

    (2) I canceled an international flight a few weeks ago to CGK and EXP said it would be $250.

    (3) Regarding your post about bringing food. I think there was a lot of misinformation in the blog / comments, I suggest posting the official link https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/82/~/travelers-bringing-food-into-the-u.s.-for-personal-use. There will be variations and stories like the dog sniffing the bananas etc., but if you post the official documentation, I think that is the best. People love to digress in the comments section. Those figs etc in those packets you mentioned you take, have too much salt, etc. and are very unhealthy.

    (4) The 787 has the crew rest area, even though the pilot contract says so, that they can block off a seat in the first row, I think that is wrong. There is a special area closed off for them, stay in there. That is for you. First row is for us, the paying passengers. http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2016/04/05/best-american-business-class-seat-787/

    (5) I don’t like the rear facing seats. I was nauseous and dizzy and did not like falling forward at take off and did not like falling backwards during decent. I did not like looking at the person across from me and I am sure they did not appreciate it either. No privacy. Plus there is no shoulder belt for rear facing seats, very odd. http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2016/04/04/american-airlines-new-business-class-blunder/

    (6) For example, seats 1A and 2A are connected. When 2A gets up or sits down, 1A jerks up and wakes up person in 1A. And visa versa. Did these people not do any testing on any of these seats? question to seat manufacturers.

  78. Cancel, please. Go to an Urgent Care, describe your symptoms, and get treatment. Your overall health (and potentially, the health of the other passengers on the plane) is worth far more than the cancellation fee. You also have cancellation insurance, which this would be a great time to test. What happens if, on arrival, you get REALLY sick? Dont forget about the potential ear and sinus problems when flying with a cold – they can make an already miserable flight painful and miserable.

    Sit this one out, and get well soon.

  79. People who are recommending antibiotic names for you to take don’t have a clue. They are the bane of my profession. Antibiotics are not like orange juice. They have short term side effects for you and long term effects on society as well. You should not take them when you don’t need to, and should not skip them when you need to take them. The commenter named ‘arcanum’ is speaking sense. Viral infections (which is most likely what you have) are not in the least treated by antibiotics. If you feel you need antibiotics, have it verified by a doctor. (Although most doctors esp in urgent cares tend to over prescribe antibiotics)

  80. interestingly enough a few mentions of it being painful having a cold and flying but never one mention of a very good reason. I used to fly when I was in the military and we were immediately grounded, not allowed to fly, as soon as we had a common cold. Why? simple enough, rupturing ear drums or put into flying terms, the inability to use a valsalva technique to clear ears due to a pressure differential. When you get sick the sinus drain and block passages that allow the valsalva procedure to clear ear drums. Unable to clear the pressure due to blocked passages becomes very painful on decent. Screaming pain, followed by bliss when the drum does rupture. It heals, usually, and it just takes time. I’ve flown sick a few times, as a pilot and as a passenger and only did so when it was absolutely necessary. If a common cold is a basis for grounding a military pilot…I think it is probably good enough for you…get the doc’s note.

  81. Don’t know how things are where you are, but here it would be easier and offer less discomfort to take the trip vs. making a doctor’s appointment. How long is the flight? In Miami Beach, you’d potentially be waiting to see the doctor for longer than that! (For a COLD! You bet. Friend with kidney stones waited in agony for 18hr to see a doctor just last month…

    I’d love to read your post about cancellations, etc., but not at the expense of your health and comfort.

    Thanks for all you do…

  82. You had no business spreading your infection at the Qantas First Class lounge,
    especially when you were there on a business class ticket.

  83. We booked an international budget flight with AirAsia. My wife is pregnant. The doctor said it is not safe to fly for our expected return ticket date. At the airlines request, we received an official letter from the doctor. I sent the letter to AirAsia, but they have not responded for over 3 weeks. Our departure is in less than a month. I tried again to contact AirAsia about why no response was made, and they replied that a “elevated person” would respond by email, and that they could not give me any other contact details. I have since not received a reply,, and it appears this airlines customer service is just playing game, extremely incompetent. Please be aware not to fly with AirAsia given these problems. I understand they are under no obligations to refund. We are not even asking for a refund. We just want to rebook and are willing to pay a fee. It appears our only resort is to abandon the ticket and book with another more trustworthy airlines.

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