United Is Now Offering Free Flights For Medical Volunteers

In cooperation with the city of New York, United Airlines will be giving free flights to medical volunteers wishing to travel to New York to help with the COVID-19 outbreak. Though it is not clear when this program will start, many have praised the move as well as those willing to risk their lives to control and fight this pandemic. It is thought that additional medical staff will allow the city to fight off the coronavirus more effectively.

United front end
United Airlines is flying in help to fight the coronavirus outbreak in NYC. Photo: Getty Images

Health care workers will receive free flights

The current epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the US is New York City. In the state of New York, there have been 103,169 cases at the time of writing, which represent 37% of all confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US. Similarly, there have been 2,935 deaths in New York state from the virus. This constitutes 41% of all deaths in the US related to the disease. In New York City there have been over 50,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 which is more than any other American city.

Makshift hospital NYC
NYC has been forced to create makeshift hospitals for testing and management of the coronavirus spread. Photo: Getty Images

As such, many temporary medical facilities are being built in New York City and the region is working out new ways to manage the situation. One such conundrum is the amount of medical personnel who can tackle this crisis.

Earlier this week, we reported that Delta was offering free flights to medical volunteers in significantly impacted areas of the US. At the time, that list did not include the hard-hit areas of California or New York. It appears that United Airlines is now responding to that need.

What is United Airlines offering?

United Airlines will begin flying medical volunteers from around the country to fight the coronavirus pandemic in New York City. The airline has been working with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City as well as The Society of Critical Care Medicine in order to fulfill positions in overloaded hospitals.

The airline will offer a free round-trip to medical volunteers. However, it is also working with local governments to help provide adequate housing and transport to ensure that these volunteers perform their roles effectively.

United will offer a free round trip and help with the organization of accommodation. Photo: Getty Images

The Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City praised the hard work of all involved. In a statement on United’s website, Toya Williford said:

“The New Yorkers working on the frontlines of COVID-19 have been and continue to be incredibly brave and tireless in their efforts. To know there are health care heroes across the country who are willing to step in and lend their support, and that United stands ready to fly them here, is wonderfully heartening. The Mayor’s Fund is deeply grateful for our trusted partners in the business community during these trying times.”

How will the scheme work?

United Airlines has not yet published any information about how the airline will coordinate its efforts with volunteers around the country. Nor is it clear how long this project and United’s offer will run for. We contacted United and a spokesperson told us:

“Medical professionals who are looking to volunteer can visit nyc.gov/helpnow. Those who accept volunteer assignments by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City will be directed to our reservation department, where our agents will be able to apply a zero-fare rate to their desired travel segments.”

It is clear that United is committed to this cause. It says that it is looking to further develop this medical flight program. It will develop in “additional areas in the Tri-State region” to meet demand in other regions.

Are you in favor of this project? Do you think more airlines should offer free flights for medical staff? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.