Can You Cancel Your Flight Because of the Coronavirus?
Tips, info and more on cancellations due to the pandemic.
Airlines are updating their cancellation policies due to the coronavirus (Getty Images)
The outbreak of the coronavirus has created chaos across the airline industry. Major companies are rapidly updating their policies to accommodate impacted travelers. Each airline's policy grows more complex as the pandemic spreads, leading to questions from confused customers. To avoid further overwhelming their phone lines, many airlines are asking travelers to avoid calling about flights that are not scheduled to depart in the next 72 hours.
What's more, numerous airlines are cutting flights as a reaction to travel bans and diminished demand. For example, many airlines are reducing flights between the U.S. and Europe in response to the 30-day travel ban between the two continents, which began March 13, 2020, at midnight. (American, United and Delta airlines have capped fares between the U.S. and Europe to help.)
Below are the most recent cancellation policies for the top airlines:
[Read from U.S. News Health: Travel in the Time of Coronavirus.]
American Airlines Coronavirus Update
Any ticket purchased on or before March 1, 2020, for all travel scheduled through April 30, 2020, will not be subject to change fees. Additionally, tickets purchased on or before March 15, 2020, for scheduled travel through multiple European airports will not be subject to change fees through May 31, 2020. Even more flexible cancellation policies are also in place for South Korea, Hong Kong and China. New tickets must be reissued on or before Dec. 31, 2020, or 12 months from the original ticket date (whichever is earlier).
Starting March 16, 2020, American Airlines is not operating long-haul international flights from the U.S. The suspension will last until May 6, 2020, and reduce international capacity by 75% year over year. All international flights are canceled, except for one flight daily from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to London-Heathrow, one flight daily from Miami to London-Heathrow and three flights per week from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Tokyo Narita Airport.
United Airlines Coronavirus Update
Tickets issued between March 3 and March 31, 2020, as well as flights scheduled through April 30, 2020, can have the value of the ticket applied to a new ticket without a fee for up to one year from the original ticket issue date.
Flights to and from Europe will continue as scheduled through March 20, 2020, except for flights between Houston and London as well as Denver and London, which are no longer operating as of March 17, 2020. From March 20 to April 30, 2020, United Airlines expects to fly three daily flights to London and provide daily service to Amsterdam, Brussels, Dublin, Paris and Zurich, plus multiple flights to Munich and Frankfurt, Germany, and Lisbon, Portugal.
Delta Air Lines Coronavirus Update
Tickets for travel during March and April 2020, as well as tickets purchased in March 2020, can be changed one time to an alternate itinerary. Additionally, all flights through May 31, 2020, to, from or through Colombia, Europe and Australia as well as select countries in Asia, South America, Central America and the Caribbean could be eligible for more flexible cancellation policies. All flights must be rebooked by Dec. 31, 2020, for travel by Feb. 28, 2021.
On March 13, 2020, Delta Air Lines announced they would cut their volume of flights by 40%. Starting March 16, 2020, Delta is operating the following flights once daily: Atlanta to Amsterdam, Atlanta to London-Heathrow, Atlanta to Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Detroit to Amsterdam and Kennedy International Airport to London-Heathrow. All other flights between the U.S. and Europe are canceled.
Southwest Airlines Coronavirus Update
Funds used to pay for a flight can be applied to future flights as long as a reservation is canceled at least 10 minutes before the scheduled departure. The funds are valid for up to one year from the original purchase date. Funds that have expired or will expire between March 1 and May 31, 2020, will now expire on June 30, 2021. Additionally, newly created funds from flight cancellations between March 1 and May 31, 2020, will also have an expiration date of June 30, 2021. Available seat miles will be reduced by at least 20% from April 14 to June 5, 2020.
Alaska Airlines Coronavirus Update
Tickets purchased between Feb. 27 and March 31, 2020, as well as flights booked through April 30, 2020, can cancel their trip for credit or change their flights for no cancellation or change fees. Rebooked travel must begin by Feb. 28, 2021.
Allegiant Air Coronavirus Update:
Travelers can make a one-time change to their travel plans without change or cancellation fees by contacting customer service via phone, email or social media.
Frontier Airlines Coronavirus Update
Bookings made between March 10 and March 31, 2020, as well as travel through April 30, 2020, can be changed without fees. The new flights must be completed by Nov. 9, 2020, and must be booked within 90 days of the initial cancellation.
Hawaiian Airlines Coronavirus Update
Tickets purchased between March 1 and March 31, 2020, and flights booked prior to March 9, 2020, for travel between March 1 and April 30, 2020, receive a waiver for a one-time change per ticket without fees.
JetBlue Airways Coronavirus Update
Bookings made from Feb. 27 to March 5, 2020, for travel through June 1, 2020, and bookings made between March 6 and March 31, 2020, for travel by Sept. 8, 2020, can be refunded for a credit that's valid for one year. Additionally, flights between islands are being reduced as a result of decreased travel demand.
Spirit Airlines Coronavirus Update
Travelers who must alter their travel plans due to the coronavirus can make a one-time free modification or receive a reservation credit for the full value of their purchase. The credit must be used within six months to book any flight currently available.
British Airways Coronavirus Update
For flights scheduled to depart up until May 31, 2020, as well as new bookings made between March 3 and March 31, 2020, travelers can change the destination, date of travel or both for free. The new flight must be taken within one year of the departure date of the original booking.
Lufthansa Coronavirus Update
Tickets issued on or before March 5, 2020, for travel up to April 30, 2020, can be rebooked with waived rebooking fees. New tickets must be booked by June 1, 2020, for travel up to Dec. 31, 2020. Additionally, tickets issued until March 31, 2020, can be rebooked at no fee for a new travel date until Dec. 31, 2020.
Lufthansa has reduced flights until April 24, 2020, with new reductions expected to be announced in the coming weeks. These changes primarily impact Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Air France Coronavirus Update
Flights departing before May 31, 2020, can be postponed without change fees. Postponed trips must be booked by Sept. 30, 2020, and must begin before Nov. 30, 2020. Tickets for flights departing before May 31, 2020, as well as tickets for canceled flights are also eligible for a refund. Also, tickets issued for travel to or from China and South Korea for select dates are eligible to be refunded or rescheduled at no extra cost.
Service will continue between Air France and its U.S. destinations, except for suspended flights to and from Houston as of March 14, 2020. Flight cancellations and entry restrictions are impacting routes to and from Russia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, South America and Africa. Additional flight capacity reductions are planned.
SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) Coronavirus Update
Bookings made on or before March 12, 2020, that are scheduled to depart through April 14, 2020, are eligible for a voucher worth the cost of their flight. The voucher must be requested at least six hours before the scheduled departure and must be used for travel departing no later than Nov. 30, 2020. SAS has canceled numerous flights following the outbreak, and canceled flights are eligible for a refund.
Alitalia Coronavirus Update
Travelers with tickets issued before April 3, 2020, for flights scheduled to depart from Feb. 23 to May 31, 2020, can rebook their flight for another trip that is scheduled to depart by Dec. 31, 2020, or receive a voucher equal to the value of their ticket price (valid for one year). Several flights have been canceled, and tickets issued for canceled flights are also eligible for a full refund.
TAP Air Portugal Coronavirus Update
All flights can be rescheduled at no charge up to 24 hours before their scheduled departure, and the rescheduled trip can be made for any date up to Dec. 31, 2020. Travelers with tickets issued between March 8 and March 21, 2020, must request a change at least 21 days before their scheduled departure, and some fares are excluded for these dates. Various flight routes have also been suspended.
Finnair Coronavirus Update
Tickets purchased before April 30, 2020, can be changed at no fee for new travel dates up until Nov. 30, 2020. Numerous flights have been canceled, with more cancellations planned, and tickets for canceled flights are eligible for a full refund.
Flights scheduled to depart up until May 31, 2020, can be rebooked without a change fee. Rebooked flights for travel dates changed until and including Nov. 30, 2020, must be the same travel class as your original ticket, while rebooked flights for travel dates changed from Dec. 1, 2020, onward must be the same fare type as your original ticket. Additionally, the value of your ticket can be reimbursed in the form of a voucher for new tickets on KLM, Air France, Delta Air Lines or Virgin Atlantic. Unique rebooking policies are in place for China and South Korea. Keep in mind, travel restrictions will lead to flight reductions, which are scheduled to last the next two months.
Flights departing until May 31, 2020, that were booked before, on or after March 6, 2020, are not subject to change fees. Changes for flights reserved before March 6, 2020, must be made no later than March 25, 2020, to avoid incurring change penalties. Tickets for canceled flights are eligible for a full refund. Calls to the reservation team will incur an administration fee of 5 euros (about $5.50) per person, per flight. The purpose of this fee is to encourage travelers to make changes online, and the charge will be waived for those who require special assistance.
Note: The above waivers and flexible travel options only apply if you booked directly with the airline. If you booked with a third-party site, such as Expedia or Booking.com, you'll need to get in touch with the third-party service to ask about a refund or flight credit.
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