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Travel companies from startups to legacy airlines have stepped up during disasters to help out their customers, employees, and the destinations they rely on for their businesses to prosper.
Several travel companies are seizing the opportunity to offer their resources and assistance to those affected by Superstorm Sandy, which cancelled over 20,000 flights and virtually halted all transportation along the East Coast of the United States. Although it gives companies a great PR boost, it’s also refreshing to see real companies reaching out to take care of their customers.
Airbnb posted on its blog Wednesday that it has lifted fees for its 20,000+ listings in New York, Providence, New Haven, and Atlantic City for the next week. This doesn’t mean that Airbnb rooms will be free for renters, but that Airbnb has removed the usual fees charged to hosts and guests. The startup also asks hosts to lower prices as much as possible in affected areas.
Homeaway, an online marketplace for vacation rentals, urged vacation homeowners in affected areas to offer their home for free or a reduced rate to those in need of housing. “Over 85 homeowners have listed numerous properties available at deep discounts,“ says Adam Annen of Homeaway. Many waived cleaning fees and offered up to 75% discounts.
Delta Air Lines Foundation donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Delta has an on-going partnership with the American Red Cross to provide cargo and passenger capacity to move relief supplies and workers to and from disaster areas.
United Airlines Foundation has also announced they’ll match up to $100,000 in donations made by United customers and employees. The donations will go to American Red Cross, Americares, and Feeding America. United is incentivizing its customers by giving up to 5 million bonus miles to MileagePlus members that contribute more than $50.
Last-minute hotel booking app HotelTonight showed off its altruistic spirit when it announced through a tweet Friday morning that all commission fees usually charged to NYC hotels are waived for the day. HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank also explained that the startup is matching the cost of every hotel room in donations for the Red Cross. “We may extend this through the weekend, until things return to a more normal situation for our hotel partners. “
Meanwhile, Uber kept it classy by doubling its fares for New Yorkers yesterday. Although the startup temporary lowered fares back down in the face of media criticism (and took a $100,000 hit to keep drivers on the road); it raised prices again on Thursday. Uber waived its own fares so drivers would receive 100% of the fare.
Know of any other travel companies going out of their way to help those affected by the hurricane? Let us know in the comments.