• External Contributor

Master List Of All Major International Airline Coronavirus Change And Cancellation Policies

“What should I do about my trip?” It’s a question we are hearing often. In the short term, the State Department has answered the question for you: stay home.

For travel into the summer and beyond, the answers aren’t crystal clear. The best you can do is be sure you’re making decisions based on the best available information.

At this point, airlines are asking you to delay contacting them to change your flights unless you are flying in the next 72 hours. If you can’t get through via phone, try the airline’s social media channels. Many rebookings or refunds can be processed over Twitter, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

Keep in mind that if your flight departing from, arriving into or transiting the United States is cancelled by the airline, according to the US Department of Transportation you will be eligible for a cash refund, full stop.

The European Union has a similar rule, commonly known as Rule 261, that provides for refunds for any flights that arrive into, travel through or depart Europe. On March 18, 2020 the European Union issued a clarification to Rule 261 reiterating that cancelled flights are eligible for refund to the original form of payment.

If your flight isn’t in the next three days, it’s in your best interest to wait as you’ll have a better set of options available to you if your flight is actually cancelled vs. you initiating the change. There’s no harm at this point in holding on to your ticket until a week or less before your departure date as chances are high your flight will have significant changes if it is not cancelled entirely.

It’s in the airline’s best interest to offer you “free changes” or a voucher as it prevents you from asking for a cash refund if/when the fight is cancelled. Some airlines, notably British Airways, have been accused of actively hiding the steps you can use to get a cash refund. Know your rights and don’t settle for a voucher.

If you are expecting to fly internationally for business or leisure in March or April, we can safely tell you it’s not gonna happen. The focus of international flights at this point is repatriation. Every day more and more countries are closing borders entirely to non-citizens. Domestic service is being cut to bare-bones levels in March and April, with substantial cuts continuing through July.

Flights are being cancelled by the thousands and the airlines are scrambling to keep up with the situation just as we all are. We can expect the massive service reductions to continue.

Many countries, including Australia, Canada, and numerous European, South and Central American, Asian and Middle Eastern countries, have cancelled all flights except for their own citizens returning home. Entire airports, such as Paris Orly, are closing, and this will continue as well. This list continues to grow by the day. Things are fluid to say the least, but this list will be updated as the situation changes.  

If you are trying to get home to the US from abroad, your best source of information is the US Embassy in the country where you are currently located. Follow the State Department on Twitter @TravelGov to see where and when repatriation flights are taking place.