Brussels Terror Attacks Shut Down Airport

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A series of terrorist attacks struck Brussels' international airport and subway system Tuesday morning, with two explosions at the airport and one in the Maalbeck subway station near the headquarters of the European Union, the New York Times reports. All trains, planes, trams and buses in Brussels have been shut down. 

According to CNN, at least 34 have been killed and 170 injured. Of those killed 20 were at the subway station, and 14 at the airport. 

According to NBC News, the first explosion struck the airport's Departure Hall 1, which is used by international carriers including American Airlines, at approximately 8 a.m. local time, followed by a second explosion. Less than an hour later a third explosion hit the subway station. 

In an updated statement from United Airlines, the company has said that it will waive change fees and any differences in fare for customers who choose to rebook their travel to Brussels through April 1, subject to the airport reopening and flights resuming. 

For customers who would like to postpone their travel plans to Brussels until after April 1, 2016, and for customers who wish to fly to a new destination, United will waive the change fee. A difference in fare may apply. Rescheduled travel needs to be completed within one year of the date when the original ticket was issued. Customers ticketed on flights that are canceled may receive a refund to the original form of payment. United will continue to update its travel waivers, with additional information available via united.com/travelwaivers

United is canceling its two flights scheduled to depart for Brussels this evening – UA950 from Washington Dulles International Airport and UA999 from Newark Liberty International Airport. The airline also is canceling its scheduled departures from Brussels tomorrow to Washington (UA951) and Newark (UA998).

United had two arrivals at Brussels International Airport Tuesday morning. Flight 950 from Washington Dulles arrived at 7:01 a.m. and customers deplaned normally at the gate. The second flight, flight 999 from Newark Liberty, was rerouted to a remote location, where all customers and crew have deplaned. All remaining flights to and from Brussels International have been suspended until further notice from local authorities.

"The United family is deeply saddened by the tragedies in Brussels earlier today, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families," United said. "The safety of our customers and crew remains our top priority, and all of our employees are safe and accounted for at this time."

Delta has said that its flight DL80 from Atlanta to Brussels landed safely at the airport and all customers have deplaned. Delta's flight DL42 from New York to Brussels was diverted to Amsterdam

Delta will be actively working with customers with flights booked to, from or through Brussels to reaccommodate their travel plans, and it has issued a travel waiver to assist impacted customers in rescheduling flights as necessary. Details of the waiver are available on delta.com.

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has also issued a statement expressing sympathy for those affected by the attack. 

"Our thoughts are with the citizens of Belgium today, especially those who lost loved ones in the heinous attacks on their nation," said ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby. "ASTA offers its sympathy and support to all those impacted by these terrorist attacks against innocent family, friends and neighbors. ASTA is reaching out to our 10 member agencies in Belgium to offer any assistance we can. Our hearts go out to you, and we pray for everyone's safety and for peace in Brussels."

Virtuoso Chairman and CEO Matthew D. Upchurch said that the company has confirmed that all staff at Virtuoso member agencies and partners in Belgium are safe. 

"In the wake of the September 11 tragedy, Virtuoso first published its Freedom Statement," Upchurch said. "Those words ring true again today: While our hearts are heavy, our entire network of member travel agencies, advisors, and preferred travel providers remains steadfast in our commitment to preserving the freedom to travel. Boundaries Divide; Travel Unites."

“GBTA is deeply saddened by the news of the terrorist attacks this morning in Brussels,” said Christle Johnson, president of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). “Dozens of innocent people were killed in an attack that was more than just an attack on an airport and a metro system, but an attack on all of us and our way of life. On behalf of GBTA, I want to express my deepest sympathies to the people of Brussels and to those directly impacted by these attacks. Today we stand with the people of Brussels.”

In hotel news, Marriott International has released a statement saying that all guests and employees have been accounted for, and there has been no direct impact to any of Marriott's properties. 

Marriott is also waiving cancellation fees for guests holding existing reservations at all four Marriott properties in Brussels for the immediate future. The company has also said it will work with group and special event customers on a case by case basis. 

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for further updates on this developing story. 

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