The COVID-19 pandemic has us postponing and canceling travel plans — with good reason. Luckily, airlines have responded with generous cancellation and change policies during this tumultuous time. If you’re one of the many people who still need to cancel or reschedule a trip, don’t worry — it’s totally possible to get the money you spent on flights back (or at least put those funds on hold for future use).
Since March 31, the U.S. Department of State has recommended that no one travels internationally. Re-entry to the U.S. from Brazil, China, Iran, and much of Europe and Scandinavia is currently banned. You can find the Center for Disease Control’s country-specific travel advisories here.
Hold tight as news develops. Every airline is different and things are gonna keep changing. If you end up rebooking your flight for a later date, keep in mind that you’ll still have to pay for any increase in cost, and may have to eat the difference if your new booking is less expensive. For third-party reservations, like through Kayak or Expedia, you may have to contact them directly.
Here is what you need to know about traveling during the coronavirus outbreak, including major airlines’ COVID-19 related refund and cancellation policies.
1. Here are major airlines’ current cancellation and flight change policies for upcoming travel.
- AeroMexico flights paths and frequencies are severely limited until June 30. Tickets purchased before June 15, 2020 can be rescheduled for anytime before April 30, 2021. It can be a different route, and the new booking will be nonrefundable.
- Read AeroMexico’s COVID-19 approach and policy.
- You can rebook any reservation made purchased before June 30, 2020 for free.
- The rebooking must be before June 30, 2021.
- You can only rebook once, and of course pay any fare difference.
- Read Air Canada’s COVID-19 approach and policy.
- Any flight booked before Feb. 26, 2020 with travel dates between March 9 and Dec. 31, 2020 can be canceled in exchange for travel credits
- The credits can be used for any rebooking within one year of the original travel date
- It would normally cost about $125 to cancel your Alaska Airlines reservation.
- Read Alaska Airlines’ COVID-19 approach and policy.
- American Airlines is waiving their change fee (normally about $200 per person) for any non-refundable flight booked between March 1 and May 31, 2020
- The original travel dates must be within one year.
- You must book your new trip within one year of the original purchase date.
- Read American Airlines’ COVID-19 approach and policy
- You can apply for a voucher for any flight booked between now and July 31, 2020 with a departure date in 2020.
- Travel vouchers are valid until April 30, 2022.
- Read British Airway’s COVID-19 approach and policy.
- Anyone headed anywhere on a Delta flight booked on or before Sep. 30, 2020 can cancel in exchange for eCredits. The eCredits can be used for travel through Sep. 30, 2022.
- Read Delta’s COVID-19 approach and policy.
- Frontier Airlines is waiving one-time fees for travelers with tickets issued prior to March 10 for travel before April 15, 2020.
- Your travel funds must be used by Sep.12, 2021.
- Read Frontier’s COVID-19 approach and policy.
- If you booked your ticket before March 3 for travel up to Sep. 30, 2020, they will waive your change fees.
- New travel must take place by Sep. 30, 2021.
- You can rebook your travel for after Sep. 30, 2021, you will have to pay the relevant change fee — usually between $75 and $275.
- Read Iceland Air’s COVID-19 approach and policy.
- JetBlue has suspended all change and cancellation fees for flights purchased before May 31, 2020 for travel through Jan. 4, 2021.
- Travel credits issued between February 27 and May 31 won’t expire for 24 months.
- Read JetBlue’s COVID-19 approach and policy.
- Anyone with a flight booked before May 15, 2020 on a Lufthansa Group airline — Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Air Dolomiti — can hold/rebook their ticket without any additional cost up until Jan. 31, 2021.
- If the flight is rebooked before Aug. 31, 2021 you will receive up to a $55 discount.
- Lufthansa’s change and cancellations normally cost anywhere from $250 to $1,000.
- Read Lufthansa’s COVID-19 approach and policy.
- Anyone with a Norwegian booked before June 15 with travel before August 21 can convert their funds into CashPoints which can be used for future bookings.
- The CashPoints must be used by Dec. 31, 2020.
- You can also rebook your reservation without a fee once time; the travel must be completed by Feb. 28, 2021.
- Read Norwegian Air’s COVID-19 approach and policy.
- If you have a Qatar ticket booked for travel between now and June 30, you can change your trip for free, or exchange your flight for a voucher worth the original ticket price that can be used within one year of issuance.
- If your destination was Europe, China, Iran, Hong Kong, Egypt, or Italy, it’s likely you can also get a full refund.
- Read Qatar’s COVID-19 approach and policy.
- Southwest is one of the only airlines that never charges change fees. So, they’re doing business as usual.
- If you had travel funds that were to expire between March 1 and Sep. 7, 2020, they will be extended until Sep. 7, 2022.
- Travel funds from a cancellation between March 1 and June 30 will also expire Sep. 7, 2022.
- Read Southwest’s cancellation and change policy.
- Spirit is issuing reservation credits for all self-canceled, airline-canceled and rescheduled flights.
- The credit must be used within 12 months.
- Read Spirit’s COVID-19 approach and policy.
PRO TIP: Call a customer service representative before canceling your trip. I canceled a domestic Spirit flight for April on my own and was told I couldn’t get a refund or credit because I didn’t ask a representative to do it. Not the best policy in my opinion, but hey, it’s Spirit. At least they text.
- If you booked a flight before March 2 for travel between March 3 and March 31, you can change it for free for travel anytime within the next two years.
- Tickets issued between April 1, 2020, and May 31, 2020 can be rebooked for equal or lesser value for travel within 12 months of the original purchase date.
- Normally changing a flight on United costs $200 for domestic and $400 for international routes. Now there are no change fees for new bookings.
- Read United’s COVID-19 approach and policy.
2. Don’t see your airline on that list? Ask anyway.
Not all airlines are releasing blanket policy announcements regarding upcoming travel. It’s always worth asking whoever you’re booked with if they’ll make an exception by allowing you to get a refund or at least hold your funds for future use.
3. Your credit card may be able to help you get refunded for unused travel reservations.
If your credit card includes travel insurance, it’s very possible that could be the best avenue for getting fully reimbursed for an unused or canceled trip. Check with your credit card if you don’t have any luck getting a refund with your airline.
4. Regular travel insurance may not be much help.
If you purchased and insured a trip after coronavirus was in the news, it’s possible that your claim could be denied.
Most travel insurance policies have a clause that says cancellations due to “known events” or “fear of travel” don’t qualify for reimbursement.
Because coronavirus outbreak was a known event as early as January 21, some travel insurance companies will say it’s ineligible for reimbursement through their policy.
It’s always best to check to be sure, though. You never know, and you don’t want to leave money on the table.
5. If you absolutely have to travel, must travel internationally, here’s what to do…
The CDC advises against all travel right now. But if you must, be sure to:
- Wear a face covering if you have it — or at least avoid touching your face
- Wash your hands often (and take alcohol or hand sanitizer with you if you have it).
- Check your destination and return state for their local guidelines on social behavior and re-admittance
- If you travel internationally, self-quarantine for 14 days upon return.