As of today, March 9th, there are over 110,000 cases of the coronavirus worldwide with a global death toll surpassing 3,000. In a statement, CNN reports that Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) has said that public health officials worldwide are now operating in “uncharted territory,” though he still stopped short of calling the outbreak a pandemic. Basically, in The WHO’s opinion, given the uncertainty of the disease’s full impact and the simple fact that the coronavirus still hasn’t affected every country, with most countries reporting just a few cases, there is still a chance for containment of the virus.
Pandemic or not, the coronavirus is starting to have a big effect not just on our immediate travel plans, but our future plans as well, as annual events and gatherings continue to get canceled. With SXSW done and the prospect of a Coachella cancellation on the horizon, we may all just end up having epic spring break staycations this year.
If you booked a flight that you now want to cancel — either because of personal fears, a straight-up travel-ban, or a canceled event — we have every airline’s current policy in regards to flight cancellations and transfers listed below. Spoiler warning, they’re not all great, and some of them seem almost non-existent and purposely vague (we’re looking at you Spirit), but on the bright side at least you’re not totally out of luck here. If you need advice on travel insurance and how to keep yourself reasonably safe on an upcoming flight, check out our Coronavirus Travel guide here.
Be sure to check out each Airline’s policy page for a full breakdown and any changes (remember, this is a constantly evolving situation).
If you happen to book a flight to Hong Kong or China refunds are available so long as the cancellation is made before the scheduled flight date. If you’ve booked a non-refundable flight elsewhere, or plan to book a flight anytime from March 1st to the 16th, you’ll be able to change your travel plans without being charged a fee, so long as your travel was to occur between March 1st, 2020 and January 26th, 2021. Your new travel date must take place within a year of the original travel date and you’ll have to pay any difference in fares. Any changes to your flight must be made two weeks advance from the outbound date.
Those who purchased a “Saver Fare” between February 27 and March 31st, 2020 for travel through February 28th, 2021, may cancel their trip and deposit their funds into the My Account Wallet to use as credit for future flights. If you purchased a nonrefundable first-class or main fare ticket between February 27th and March 31st you have the option to make a one-time change so long as your new travel date occurs before February 28, 2021, and you’ll have to suffer a possible fare difference charge, or you can cancel your trip and deposit the funds into the My Account Wallet.
Change fees on all new bookings made between March 3rd and March 16th have been waived.
If your flight has been canceled, you may receive a refund through British Airways’ “Manage My Booking” webpage. If you had a scheduled flight to or from Hong Kong anytime between now and May 31st, 2020 you may rebook to a later flight date. If you booked travel to Northern Italy (Milan, Turin, Bologna, Venice, Bergami, and Verona) between now and April 4th, 2020, you may rebook so long as your new travel date falls before May 31st or you may receive a full refund.
If you had a trans-Pacific flight booked to Beijing, Shanghai, Incheon, South Korea, or Italy between now and April 30th, you can make a one-time change without incurring any change fees, though you may have to pay fare differences if they apply. Rebooked travel must begin by May 31st.
Travelers seeking to cancel their flights will be given credit to use toward the purchase of a new ticket that must be purchased within a year of the original issue date.
EasyJet currently has no policy for refunds or cancellations in relation to the coronavirus outbreak. Their flights are all operating under standard terms and conditions. If EasyJet canceled your flight — they’ve canceled some flights to Northern Italy until Easter — then you’re entitled to a full refund or rebooking.
Flights booked between early March until the end of the month to or in transit in the United States or French Polynesia may be changed free of charge, though fare adjustments will be applied if your new flight is more expensive, or you can receive credit for a new flight up to a year from the original ticket’s issue date. A cancellation of your flight entitles you to a full refund.
If you have a flight to Paris or Reunion Island or are already in the middle of a trip, you can change your return date free of charge (fare differences apply) until the end of the month so long as you return by May 31st at the latest.
If you have a reservation between now and March 16th, you’ll be able to make a one-time change to your reservation fee-free, though differences in fares do apply. Your future travel date must be completed by June 1st, though you have the option to change your origin and destination city.
Cancellations can be done without a cancellation fee, but you’ll be refunded in credit that’s valid for 90 days.
All service between Honolulu and Incheon have been suspended until April 30th. Luckily, if you rebook your flight before October 31st, you won’t be charged change fees or fare differences so long as there’s no change to the origin and departure city. In the event you want to rebook your flight after October 31st, you won’t be charged a change fee, but you will have to pay fare differences.
If you plan on traveling to Japan, you’ll have until April 23, 2020, to rebook your flight, and if you had a flight to China you have until May 31st, 2020. Cancellation fees have also been waived and Hawaiian is offering full refunds so long as your flight is affected directly.
All change and cancellations fees have been suspended for new flights booked between February 27th and March 11th, 2020, and scheduled through June 1st, 2020. Fare differences have not been waved.
If you need to cancel your flight, you will receive a credit, valid for a full year worth the amount of the flight fare, including taxes and fees.
KLM is allowing all changes at no extra cost, though if you change your fare type you’ll need to pay a fare difference. KLM also has specific rebooking policies for flights to China, Italy, Singapore, and South Korea which allow you to rebook your travel within a specific window this year (either Spring or Summer).
If you want a straight-up cancellation, KLM offers full refunds, so long as you meet each country’s respective criteria. If you are traveling to or from mainland China anytime between now and May 31st, 2020, you’re entitled to a full refund. If your flight to Italy or Singapore was canceled by KLM, Air France, or Delta airlines, or delayed more than three hours, you’re entitled to a refund. If you are traveling to or from South Korea anytime between now and April 30th, 2020, you’re entitled to a full refund. Check KLM’s policy page for a full breakdown of transfer policies for the four affected countries.
Norwegian is waiving all change fees for new bookings if you booked your travel between March 6th and March 22nd of this year, with a travel window of March 7th to August 31st. Change fee suspensions are valid for all routes except within Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and between the four countries. The change fee suspension is not valid if you’re flying within Spain, but it is if you were scheduled to fly to Spain.
Any new travel booked must occur before August 31st, 2020 and only one change per itinerary will be permitted, meaning every person on the ticket must change at the same time. The departure and arrival airports cannot be changed, and fare differences may apply.
A refund will not be given if the new fare is cheaper than your original flight. Make sure you make all changes prior to the scheduled departure or you’ll be totally out of luck.
Flights to mainland China have been completely canceled until at least April 24th, with a reduction in flights to Hong Kong (likely to continue to shrink). Luckily, if your flight is affected you can request a refund with no cancellation fees. Lufthansa is also rebooking customers automatically at no additional charge which is a nice gesture we wish more airlines adopted.
Ryanair has dropped its service to one a day from Fridays to Mondays. All domestic flights in Italy have been suspended to and from Bergamo, Malpensa, Parma, and Treviso airports. If Ryanair cancels your travel you’ll be notified via text and email and given the option for a full refund, rebooking, or reroute.
All other flights are operating as normal.
Spirit finally has a policy! If your travel plans have been disrupted by the coronavirus, you are eligible for a one-time free modification — still have to pay fare differences — through Spirit Guest Care. If you don’t know when you intend to travel, you’ll be given a fare credit valid for up to 6-months that can be used on a future flight.If you cancel your reservation and need a refund of your travel insurance premium, you may collect one through Travel Guard if eligible.
Southwest doesn’t charge customers change or cancellation fees, so luckily if you have a Southwest ticket you’re covered in this regard with or without the coronavirus. Unfortunately, by covered we mean in the form of credit for a future Southwest flight, and only if you cancel your flight at least 10 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time.
Your Southwest credit will only be valid for up to a year from the original purchase date, but at least you don’t have to deal with fees.
United is offering refunds for all flights booked to China — even if you purchased a nonrefundable ticket — and will be waiving change fees and fare difference for anyone who books a flight to airports in Northern Italy, China, Hong Kong, and South Korea between now and June 30th, so long as your new ticket is in the same ticket class as your original booking.
If you booked your trip awhile ago, you’ll need to pay any fare differences and fees.