What you need to know about changing or canceling your travel plans because of the coronavirus, as outbreaks spread to every continent except Antarctica
As the coronavirus continues to spread, with outbreaks appearing in South Korea, Italy, Iran, and elsewhere, travelers and travel providers are being forced to rethink plans and make adjustments. If you're concerned about the virus, your options for a cancellation or refund may be limited, but as the situation continues to develop, refund policies are likely to change as the virus moves closer toward pandemic status. Here's what you need to know about canceling or changing your travel plans because of the coronavirus. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, travelers are starting to rethink work trips and vacations. Global tourism is bracing for a major slowdown as countries other than China struggle to contain outbreaks and travel restrictions and airline cancellations reach new markets. "If there was previously a temptation to view the coronavirus as a China or Asia issue, then developments this week must force a shift in mindset," Nick Wyatt, head of travel and tourism research at GlobalData, said in an email to Business Insider. "With the news that 12 towns in Italy are on lockdown and countries like Austria and Croatia announcing their first cases, it is readily apparent that the impact is likely to be felt on a more global scale than was perhaps previously envisaged." The spread of the virus has been swift, with new hotspots popping up around the world almost daily. In addition to China, outbreaks have been found in Italy, Iran, and South Korea. If you're scheduled to travel to a country with a confirmed outbreak, you may be able to cancel your trip and get a full refund. Airlines around the world — including the major three US airlines: American, Delta, and United — have suspended routes to China. However, refund policies vary tremendously among different airlines and depend on your destination. If you're simply canceling a trip because you're worried about the virus, odds are you won't be able to get a refund — even with travel insurance, whether you purchased it separately or used your credit card's coverage. "The only travel insurance that would be helpful in that scenario is when you pay extra for a 'cancel for any reason' plan," Ted Rossman, an industry analyst at CreditCards.com, told Business Insider. "If you're just canceling out of fear of traveling and getting sick, that's not a good enough reason." People who get sick before their trips and are worried about traveling with a weaker immune system may be able to invoke their insurance plan's trip-cancellation coverage, provided they have a note from a doctor, Rossman said. While travelers may have better luck asking their airline and hotel for a refund or cancellation, most travel providers are only offering that if you're scheduled to fly to the most seriously affected regions — that is, China, South Korea, and starting this week, Italy. If you're absolutely set against traveling during the coronavirus spread — even if you're going somewhere without the virus — Rossman suggested that instead of walking away and losing the whole value of your trip, paying a change fee to reschedule it for the summer, or to another destination. "Even if you're really worried and you don't want to travel, look into changing plans rather than canceling them, because usually the fees are better in that instance. Maybe you could reschedule your trip for later, or pick a different destination," he said. "You'll probably pay some fees, but you won't lose the whole trip." The situation is changing fast, and as new hotspots and outbreaks are reported, it's likely that airline and travel policies will change too. We've rounded up the refund and rescheduling policies of major airlines below, and the effects that the virus is having across their routes. We'll continue to update this page as the situation develops.SEE ALSO: Amid demand plummets linked to the coronavirus, airlines project that this could be their worst year since the global financial crisis Delta became the first US airline to expand travel waivers and cancellations beyond China.
Delta suspended its direct flights to China earlier this month, with low demand making the operation of the flights commercially unfeasible. For anyone whose flights were not affected (for instance, passengers booked on Delta but transiting with a partner airline through another country), Delta has issued a travel waiver, allowing passengers to change flights without a fee, or cancel them altogether. On Wednesday, Delta added Seoul-Incheon Airport, South Korea, to the travel waiver. Delta also issued a travel waiver for travel to anywhere in Italy, where a new outbreak of coronavirus was recently identified. Passengers who choose to cancel their flights won't get a refund; instead, they can apply the value of their ticket to a new flight within a year. If a passenger's flight is cancelled by Delta, the airline will reach out with instructions, including how to claim a refund. If the travel waiver applies to your itinerary, you can change or cancel your flight by visiting the My Trips section of Delta's website, clicking on Modify Flight, and choosing the relevant option. The full China and South Korea travel waiver applies for travel scheduled between January 24 and April 30. Trips must be rescheduled or cancelled before May 31 for the waiver to apply. The travel waiver applies for passengers scheduled to fly to, from, or through:
Beijing, China (PEK or PKX) Shanghai, China (PVG) Seoul-Incheon, South Korea (ICN)
The Italy travel waiver applies for travel scheduled between February 25 and March 15. Trips must be rescheduled or cancelled before March 15 for travel by April 3. The travel waiver applies for passengers scheduled to fly to, from, or through any city in Italy. American Airlines issued a new travel waiver for South Korea, in addition to mainland China and Hong Kong.
American Airlines similarly cancelled its flights to China as demand fell, tentatively planning to resume flying in late April. For passengers scheduled on flights that were still operating, or who were flying to certain other affected areas, the airline has issued a series of travel waivers. Travelers to mainland China and Hong Kong can change their flights, postpone travel, or cancel their tickets without a change or cancellation fee. Those traveling to Seoul can change or delay their flights but will still have to pay cancellations fees if they decide to call the trip altogether. They can also change their origin or destination city to Tokyo. Passengers can make a one-time change online as long as they aren't changing origin or destination city by visiting the "find your trip" page and selecting "change trip" in the toolbar. For any other changes, passengers should contact reservations at 800-433-7300 from the US, or at the relevant phone number listed on this page. The full mainland China travel waiver applies for travel scheduled between January 24 and April 24, as long as tickets were bought by January 24. Trips must be rescheduled for travel by June 1, 2020, for the waiver to apply. The travel waiver applies for passengers scheduled to fly to, from, or through:
Beijing, China (PEK or PKX) Shanghai, China (PVG)
The Hong Kong travel waiver applies for travel scheduled between January 28 and April 24. Trips must be rescheduled for travel by June 30, or cancelled before the originally scheduled date. The Seoul Incheon, South Korea travel waiver applies for travel scheduled between February 24 and April 24. Trips must be rescheduled for travel by June 30. Visit this page for full details on the travel waivers. United similarly added a South Korea travel waiver.
Although United has also cancelled its flights to China and Hong Kong, it issued several travel waivers for passengers scheduled to travel to the region. It added a South Korea waiver this week. The airline is allowing passengers to change or delay their flights without fees. Passengers scheduled to fly to China and Hong Kong can also choose to cancel their flights and receive a full refund. The full China travel waiver applies for travel scheduled between January 24 and April 30. Trips must be rescheduled for travel by June 30, or cancelled before the original travel date, for the waiver to apply. The travel waiver applies for passengers scheduled to fly to, from, or through:
Beijing, China (PEK) Chengdu, China (CTU) Shanghai, China (PVG)
Similar terms apply for flights to, from, or through Hong Kong, for travel scheduled between January 28 and April 30. Passengers scheduled to fly to, from, or through Seoul Incheon, South Korea, between February 24 and June 30 can change their flights without a fee for travel by June 30. Refunds are not available for Seoul travelers. On Thursday, United added a travel waiver for parts of northern Italy. The waiver applies for travel scheduled between February 27 and April 30. Trips must be rescheduled for travel by April 30 — for travel after that, the change fee will be waived, but a fare difference may apply. The travel waiver applies for passengers scheduled to fly to, from, or through:
Bologna, Italy (BLQ) Genoa, Italy (GOA) Milan, Italy (BGY) Milan, Italy (LIN) Milan, Italy (MXP) Trieste, Italy (TRS) Turin, Italy (TRN) Venice, Italy (VCE) Verona, Italy (VRN)
To change or cancel your flights, visit the "view your reservation" page and select "Change Flight." If you're eligible for a refund, you can request it at this page. You can see the full travel waiver details here. JetBlue will waive change and cancellation fees for all new bookings.
JetBlue doesn't fly to any of the affected regions, but said on Wednesday that it would suspend change and cancellation fees for any new reservations starting on February 27. The waiver would apply to all bookings made through March 11, for travel by June 1, 2020. It applies to all fares, including basic economy. In a statement, the airline said the move was designed to boost customer confidence for anyone on the fence about whether or not to book a trip because of the outbreak. Hawaiian Airlines suspended its service to Seoul Incheon, South Korea.
Hawaiian Airlines announced Wednesday that it was temporarily suspending its five-times-a-week service between Honolulu and Seoul from March 1 through May 1. Passengers scheduled to travel before May 1 can reschedule their flights for any time before October 31 without a fee, or request a refund. Passengers can also reschedule flights for after October 31 — change fees will still be waived, but there may be a fare difference. Contact reservations at 1-800-367-5320 to make a change or request a refund. Visit this page to read more about the travel waiver. British Airways cancelled flights to Beijing and Shanghai.
British Airways cancelled its normal flights to Beijing and Shanghai until April 17. The airline is offering refunds or rescheduling for people booked on those flights, saying that it will offer additional information on later dates. While the airline is still flying to Hong Kong, it will allow passengers booked before May 31 to postpone their travel. The airline is also offering a travel waiver for passengers flying to northern Italy. Passengers traveling by March 2 can reschedule their trips for any time later in March. To make changes, the airline says to visit the "Manage My Booking" page, or contact reservations at +44 (0) 203 250 0145. Lufthansa Group cancelled China flights, but is not offering waivers otherwise.
Lufthansa Group — including Lufthansa itself, Swiss, and Austrian Airlines — suspended flights to mainland China until March 28. The airline said it would also reduce service to Hong Kong in March, based on demand. The airline said that passengers could request a refund via the "My Bookings" page, or could rebook their flights to a later date. You can learn more about the cancellations and refund process here. Air France will allow people traveling to China or Italy to reschedule their flights.
Air France cancelled flights to mainland China until through at least March 28. If you're still booked on an operating flight to China between now and May 31, you can reschedule your trip to anytime before June 30. You can also postpone trips to anywhere in Italy if you're scheduled to travel between February 25 and March 15. The new travel date must be before April 3. You can find the full travel waiver details here.
More like this (3)
United will curtail service on domestic and global routes as companies restrict trips, testing a long...United will curtail service on domestic and global routes as companies restrict trips, testing a long stretch of airline industry profitability.
United is drastically cutting flights worldwide and offering unpaid leave to employees as the coronavirus ravages the airline industry
In an email to employees, United Airlines said it would cancel 10% of domestic flights and...In an email to employees, United Airlines said it would cancel 10% of domestic flights and 20% of international service in the coming months as demand for travel falls due to the coronavirus outbreak. United CEO Oscar Munoz and president Scott Kirby also outlined a series of cost-cutting measures, including voluntary unpaid leaves for employees, and a hiring freeze. The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has impacted the airline industry especially hard, leading to flight cancellations, route suspensions, and uncertainty in the markets. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said on Wednesday that the airline would make significant cuts to its flight network and implement a series of cost reductions, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to wreak havoc on the airline industry in the US and worldwide. In a memo to employees sent by Munoz and United president Scott Kirby — who is set to take over from Munoz later this year — said that the airline would cut 20% of its international schedule and 10% of its domestic flights in April, with similar cuts in May. The international network downsizing includes already-announced schedule reductions to several regions in Asia, including South Korea and Japan, as well as suspended routes to China and Hong Kong. The domestic service reductions also include several changes to Canada routes. Munoz and Kirby said that the changes would be announced on March 7. In addition to the flight reductions, Munoz and Kirby said that employees would be offered the option to apply for a voluntary, unpaid leave of absence, or a voluntary reduced schedule. The airline will also suspend all new hiring through at least June 30, and postponing new-hire training classes. Finally, the airline will postpone salary raises for management and administrative employees. That excludes employees covered by collective bargaining agreements. Sara Nelson, president of the union that covers employees at United, the Association of Flight Attendants, expressed satisfaction with the way the airline had handled the impact of the outbreak. "United Airlines is taking a responsible approach to address the impact of COVID-19 on air travel," she said. "We want to be very clear that the airline has worked with our union from the start to implement safety and health measures to ensure crew and passengers are safe." "We believe the airline is taking responsible steps for employees and the traveling public," she added. The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has severely impacted global airlines, including US carriers. Demand to countries with the largest outbreaks has plummeted, but overall travel demand has also fallen. Major corporations have suspended nonessential business travel, and large conferences and events have been cancelled or postponed. Airlines have introduced a series of flexible ticketing policies and offers to waive change fees in an effort to attract nervous leisure travelers who may be postponing scheduling spring and summer vacations. United recently said it would postpone a training class for new pilot hires. US airline CEOs, including Munoz, met with President Donald Trump earlier Wednesday to discuss the impact of the virus on the airline industry. United was scheduled to hold its annual investor day in New York this week, but postponed the meeting due to uncertainty surrounding the virus. There have been more than 95,000 cases of the virus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, reported worldwide in more than 80 countries, including more than 3,250 deaths. Nearly 150 cases have been reported in the US. 11 of those cases have been fatal.SEE ALSO: What you need to know about changing or canceling your travel plans because of the coronavirus, as outbreaks spread to every continent except Antarctica Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why Lamborghini's new hybrid is bad for the environment