Travel industry steps up with generosity
Friday, April 10, 2020
Not-so-random acts of kindness are in play in the travel industry as the coronavirus has decimated the jobs and stability Americans expect.
As Americans try to make sense of it all, major travel industry brands are coming forward with measures of kindness that go a long way. These may be donations to food banks, hospitals or simple ways to relieve burdens or extend benefits.
Among the airlines launching kindness programs, Air Canada and the Air Canada Foundation are working with Canadian food rescue organization Second Harvest's FoodRescue.ca to redistribute fresh food items from Air Canada's in-flight kitchens as the airline begins suspending the majority of its international and U.S. transborder flights as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
"While so many of us are staying home during these extraordinary times, we also remain united in taking care of each other. Since we work with catering facilities across Canada, the network that Second Harvest offers through their national FoodRescue.ca platform enables us collectively to get these ready-to-eat food items to those who need it most as quickly as possible. To date, we have redistributed 2,330 kg of fresh veggies, salads, sandwich wraps, muffins and milk, and there will be more to distribute in the coming days," said Arielle Meloul-Wechsler, Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources and Communications Officer at Air Canada.
American Airlines is working with its long-standing national partner, the American Red Cross, to raise funds for the nonprofit’s efforts on the frontlines of the COVID-19 outbreak.
From now through April 30, AAdvantage members can earn 10 miles for every dollar donated to the Red Cross with a minimum $25 donation. They can visit the Red Cross website to donate. Monetary donations are the best way to assist those in need at this time, which will help provide support for blood drives and critical relief services through trained Red Cross personnel who are on the ground, assisting with the outbreak. Miles will be reflected in mileage accounts 30 to 45 days after donation. American donates $1 million annually to the disaster relief organization.
Then there is Delta Air Lines, which is supporting medical professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis by offering free flights to certain regions of the U.S. that have been significantly impacted.
Eligible medical volunteers are able to book round-trip Delta flights free of charge to Georgia, Louisiana and Michigan, where they will work in coordination with the state and local government offices to be deployed to hospitals in areas hardest hit by the virus. Delta is also looking at the possibility of expanding this program to other regions in need, including California, New York, and Washington.
“We are witnessing the heroic efforts of our medical professionals around the world as they combat COVID-19, and we have deep gratitude for their selfless sacrifice,” said Bill Lentsch, Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer. “Air travel plays a significant role in making connections in both good and challenging times, and our hope is that offering free travel gives more of these professionals the ability to help in critical areas of the U.S.”
Those medical volunteers who are interested in this program should contact the state offices below to determine their eligibility based on each state’s specific needs. Once eligible candidates are identified, Delta will work with the state and local government offices to make flight reservations. The flights will be offered during the month of April to start and can be booked up to three days in advance of travel.
Casino resort companies in Las Vegas are also working to alleviate the financial and food pressures of those in need.
Wynn Resorts recently donated more than $2.5 million worth of goods to local medical facilities and nonprofits. The Las Vegas-based casino resort company was able to procure and donate 240,000 N95-equivalent CDC-approved respirator masks, 600,000 surgical masks, 500,000 pairs of medical gloves and thousands of medical gowns to area hospitals, so far.
Additionally, Wynn donated 175 pallets of food valued at $750,000 to 15 food banks in Las Vegas and three in Boston. The Wynn Employee Foundation, a charitable giving foundation funded and managed by employees of Wynn, also donated $100,000 in funds to the Three Square food bank in Las Vegas, and $25,000 in funds to the Bread of Life Food Bank in Boston.
"Our support will only continue to rise as we identify new ways to fill financial and supply chain gaps in our home communities," said Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox. "We are working together with the medical community and charitable partners to ensure we are providing meaningful help where it matters the most."
Similarly, Caesars Entertainment has been helping nearby communities by donating food, as well as essential personal protection equipment across the country to assist healthcare workers, law enforcement and more. To date, the company has supplied more than 250,000 pounds of food, which is equivalent to approximately 208,000 meals to numerous food banks and charities. Additionally, Caesars Entertainment has provided thousands of items including gloves, masks and hand sanitizer to local hospitals, first responders and local charities.
Among the company’s many brands, its Atlantic City resorts have donated more than 40,000 pounds of food to Community Food Bank of Southern New Jersey, Atlantic City Rescue Mission and Salvation Army. In addition to these donations, the company has also donated food not suitable for human consumption to animal rescues in need, like The Funny Farm in Mays Landing, New Jersey.
Hertz announced that it will immediately start providing free vehicle rentals to New York City healthcare workers through April 30, 2020. Healthcare workers can reserve a vehicle at 19 New York City-area Hertz locations so they can continue providing critical care to the community during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
To immediately have an impact, Hertz is working with Mount Sinai Health System to make vehicles available to its employees throughout New York City, and is also supplying the Health System with free cargo van rentals to transport ventilators and other medical supplies to support the crisis.
"With New York City having the highest number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, healthcare workers are dealing with extremely challenging circumstances," said Kathryn Marinello, Hertz President and CEO. "It's vital that healthcare workers have safe and reliable transportation during this time, and we are eager to help. The dramatic decrease in travel means we have more vehicles to serve the most critical needs of the community. We're starting in New York City with healthcare workers and we'll continue to see how we can help during this crisis. It gives all of us at Hertz a sense of purpose and pride to lend our support as much as we can during this very difficult time."
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