With social distancing now a way of life to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, people are adjusting their schedules. Travelers who want to postpone upcoming trips will want to take a look at these airline cancellation policies during the coronavirus outbreak. Thankfully, many airlines are offering customers greater travel flexibility.
If you're on the fence about whether or not you should take your next trip, it's a good idea to be aware of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s recommendation for traveling. As of Monday, March 23, the CDC advises individuals to avoid nonessential travel, since crowded travel settings, like airports, can increase your risk of exposure to coronavirus. When taking into account the CDC's travel guidelines, you'll also want to consider factors like if the novel coronavirus is spreading at your destination, if you'll be in close contact with others during your trip, and if the coronavirus is spreading where you live.
With the number of confirmed cases growing and the CDC touting the importance of practicing social distancing to help flatten the curve, it's probably best to cancel or postpone upcoming nonessential travel. Thankfully, airlines are adjusting their policies to accommodate changes due to the coronavirus.
Here are the details on cancellation policies at major U.S. airlines:
Alaska Airlines is allowing no-fee changes and cancellations for tickets purchased on or before Feb. 26, 2020, for travel through April 30, 2020, as well as new tickets purchased between Feb. 27 and March 31, 2020.
American Airlines is allowing customers a one-time rebook on their reservations without the standard $200 change fee. The policy applies if you bought your ticket before March 31, for travel through May 31, 2020, and if you booked your trip from March 1-31, for travel through Jan. 30, 2021. If you're changing a previously issued ticket, you'll need to rebook your flight before Dec. 31, 2020, or 12 months from the original ticket date, whichever is earlier.
Delta Airlines is waiving change fees for all flights purchased between March 1 and March 31, 2020. You'll be able to make multiple changes without incurring an extra cost. You can make changes through Feb. 28, 2021, as long as the original travel dates were for before Feb. 25, 2021.
If you have a ticket that was issued on or before March 9, for travel through April 30, 2020, you can get a free travel waiver from Delta. Your new flight dates must begin no later than Dec. 31, 2020.
If you're not sure when or if you will travel next, you can cancel your flight and receive the value in flight credit to be used at a future date.
Customers can make a one-time change without a change or cancellation fee to flights issued prior to March 10, with original travel dates March 10 and April 30, 2020 and tickets issued March 10 through March 31, 2020. Frontier Airline credits are only valid 90 days from the cancellation date, and the travel must be completed by Nov. 9, 2020.
Customers who booked any Hawaiian Airline flight between March 1 and March 31, 2020, can change their travel plans without incurring any one-time cancellation fees. If your ticket was issued on or before March 9, 2020, for travel between March 1 and April 30, 2020, you'll also get the change fee waived. Your new flight must be ticketed on or before Dec. 31, 2020 for travel commencing no later than Dec. 31, 2020.
JetBlue is waiving change and cancellation fees for flights booked through May 31, 2020. You can rebook your flight for travel through Oct. 24, 2020. Fare differences may apply if your new flight costs more or less than the original. Cancelled flights will be issued as Travel Bank Credits for the amount of your flight, and they are valid for one year from the date received.
Southwest Airlines does not charge fees to cancel or change flights. That means if you have a nonrefundable ticket, and cancel the reservation at least 10 minutes prior to schedule departure, you'll get to apply the value to future travel. If you have a refundable ticket, you can also apply the fare to a future travel date. Normally, it is only valid for one year from the date of purchase, but due to COVID-19, Southwest is extending the expiration date of some travels funds. Funds that have expired or will expire between March 1 and May 31, 2020, will now expire June 30, 2021, while any travel funds created because of a flight cancellation between March 1 and May 31, 2020, will have an expiration date of June 30, 2021.
Spirit Airlines is offering travelers who must change their plans due to the coronavirus a reservation credit for the full value of their booking. You can use reservation credit for up to six months to book any available flight, including beyond the six-month period. You can use the credit on flights as well as other options, excluding third-party products.
United Airlines is offering customers additional flight flexibility. If you booked a flight between March 3 and March 31, 2020, you can change it for free one time. The rebooked flight needs to be of equal or lesser value and is valid 12 months from the original issue date of the ticket.
The company is also waiving change fees for all tickets issued on or before March 2, 2020, with original travel dates between March 9 and April 30, 2020. You'll need to have your trip rebooked before Dec. 31, 2020, or 12 months from the original ticket date, whichever is earlier. If you're not sure which date you'd like to change your flight to, don't worry. You can cancel your flight first and rebook the trip later without any extra fees.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Elite Daily's coverage of coronavirus here.