If you’re about to book a flight for a work trip or vacation, you may want hold off. In the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19 — the coronavirus — public health officials advise against traveling to high-risk areas. But what should you do if you’ve already purchased your ticket? Can you get a refund for a coronavirus flight cancellation?
Are you looking to cancel your flight to lower the risk of exposure? We’ll walk you through your options. Plus, we’ll show you which airlines will refund you for your coronavirus flight cancellation.
Travel insurance and coronavirus flight cancellation refunds
Up until recently, if you wanted to cancel your flight, you had two options:
- Change, cancel, or modify your existing booking and pay the fees.
- Have purchased travel insurance before January 21 (the date that COVID-19 was identified and named).
If you have a flight in the next few months, check to see if you bought travel insurance. For coronavirus flight cancellations, the date of purchase is critical. January 21 is the cutoff date for coverage of claims resulting from COVID-19 with most insurance carriers.
If your insurance company allows it, you can try to amend your travel insurance to a “cancel for any reason” policy. With this option, you can cancel your trip 48 hours before the booked departure time. However, you may only be refunded 50% of the ticket’s initial cost.
New options for coronavirus flight cancellation refunds
Worldwide, airlines are stepping up to accommodate coronavirus flight cancellations. Many are offering waivers for change fees and cancellations. Even so, in an ongoing crisis, it’s hard to meet everyone‘s demands.
Here’s a run-through of the latest developments from each airline.
Which airlines refund coronavirus flight cancellation?
Cancellation refund policies are continually changing. We have included details for the most widely used U.S. airlines, but you should always check the current policy of your airline. Use the table below to check the official refund policy for coronavirus flight cancellations for your airline.
Master list of airlines and their refund and cancellation policies
Southwest Airways refunds and cancellations
America’s largest domestic airline, Southwest Airlines, is the only major U.S. carrier that doesn’t charge change fees. You can change or cancel any Southwest flight and receive the ticket’s value for future travel. This even applies to nonrefundable tickets.
JetBlue Airways refunds and cancellations
JetBlue is the first carrier offering free flight cancellations or changes due to the coronavirus. The waiver applies to all new bookings made between February 27 and March 11 and scheduled through June 1. Any difference in airfare, where applicable, must be paid by the customer.
If you change or cancel flights, you’ll get credit for the amount of the flight fare (plus taxes and fees). This credit is valid for one year from the date of issue.
Alaska Airlines refunds and cancellations
Alaska Airlines was the next carrier to accommodate coronavirus flight cancellation with its “peace of mind” waiver. Customers buying tickets between February 26 and April 30 for flights between February 27 and June 1 can cancel or change their trips at any time.
If you decide to cancel your flight, your funds get deposited into an Alaska account to use for future travel. Fare differences apply if you choose to rebook, and the new travel date must occur before December 31.
Delta Air Lines refunds and cancellations
To dispel consumer fears surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak, Delta dropped change fees for domestic and international flights. This applies to all domestic March bookings, and to all international flights in March that were booked by March 1.
American Airlines refunds and cancellations
If you need to change a flight booked with American Airlines from March 1 to March 16, you won’t face a change fee for altering your plans. To qualify, the date of the original flight must fall between March 1 and January 26. Changes must be made no less than 14 days before the date of the outbound flight.
Your rescheduled flight has to take place within a year of the original ticket issue date, and you’ll pay for any difference in fares.
United Airlines refunds and cancellations
United’s response to the COVID-19 crisis is a waiver. It covers customers who purchase tickets between March 3 and March 31 for travel to any destination. You can switch your ticket to another flight and pay any difference in fare.
What if you’d rather cancel your flight entirely? In this case, you’ll receive a credit which is good for one year from the date you bought your ticket.
Frontier Airlines refunds and cancellations
Frontier Airlines is also waiving fees for their customers. You can make a one-time, fee-free adjustment to current travel reservations scheduled between March 3 and March 16 (fare differences apply). You can also change the origin and endpoint, provided you fly before June 1.
Also, if you want to cancel an existing reservation, you won’t face a cancellation fee. Refunds are provided in the form of a credit, valid for 90 days.
Spirit Airlines doesn’t have a date-specific change policy for refunds and cancellations. Instead, they offer a one-time fee-free change or cancellation. Of course, fare prices may be different for the new flight. Customers who cancel will receive a flight credit that is valid for six months. Note that this means you have six months to book your trip, so effectively, you will have 9-12 months to use it based on how far in advance Spirit has posted its schedule.
Hawaiian Airlines refunds and cancellations
Hawaiian Airlines suspended all flights from Hawaii to South Korea from March 2 to April 30. Travel-change fee waivers are available for passengers traveling to any endpoint. However, to get a waiver, you must have booked your flight between March 1 and March 16.
Travelers to China can get a fee-free trip change up until March 31.
British Airways refunds and cancellations
For travelers anxious about the coronavirus, British Airways has a “Book with Confidence” policy. This policy enables travelers to reschedule their flight without incurring any fees and applies to any bookings made between March 3 and March 31. You can also exchange your booking for a voucher of the same value.
Airline coronavirus policies: Is there a catch?
In a manner of speaking, yes! Most flight waivers are only valid for a limited time, spanning from 90 days to one year. If you want to cancel your flight and are not planning to fly again within the allotted time period, you might forfeit your refund.
Can your travel credit card help with refunds on coronavirus?
The quick question is probably not, but it’s worth a try if you used a credit card for your travel purchases. Trip interruption and cancellation insurance are two benefits on many travel rewards credit cards that could help refund some of your travel expenses. Here are some credit cards that offer trip interruption and cancellation insurance. Notice, that coverage benefits vary greatly depending on the card.
However, the coverage benefits vary greatly among cards. Unfortunately, when it comes to COVID-19 unless you actually come down with the virus or your doctor specifically tells you not to travel, credit card trip interruption or cancellation insurance are unlikely to cover for nonrefundable costs.
Travel and coronavirus, the big challenge.
Coronavirus presents a serious challenge to travelers everywhere. Fortunately, airlines are doing everything in their power to accommodate travelers who’ve been forced to change their plans.
Remember, this situation is still developing. News about COVID-10 updates constantly. For the latest in coronavirus flight cancellation policies, check your airline’s website.
Read more about how the coronavirus pandemic could trigger a recession that could rival that of the Great Depression. Concerned about the medical costs of getting treatment for COVID-19? This is what we now know. Are you missing work because of COVID-19? Find out if you qualify for paid sick leave.
Looking to book or reschedule a flight? These travel credit cards can help you earn miles, get airline rewards, and get the most bang for your buck.