COVID-19 Flight Waivers and Refund Policies by Airline
With uncertainty surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation stateside, many U.S.-based carriers are relaxing ticket restrictions to give passengers a little peace of mind when booking flights for future travel. Flexible policies on flight cancellations and change fees have been applied to select tickets, and most airlines have temporarily waived fees on new itineraries. Here are all the major U.S. carriers’ current change and cancellation rules as they relate to travel during the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
All policies have the most up-to-date info as of: March 31, 2020.
To see if your upcoming travel has been affected click here for a full list of coronavirus flight suspensions by region and airline.
Coronavirus Waiver Policies by Airline:
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- United Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Sun Country
- International Carriers
Which US Airlines Are Offering Free Ticket Changes Amid Coronavirus (COVID-19) Concerns?
American Airlines has continued to expand on its initial change fee waiver to offer passengers more flexibility. Currently, any ticket (both domestic and international) purchased between March 1 and April 30, 2020, including restrictive Basic Economy tickets, will be granted a one-time change without incurring the standard $200 change fee.
American has broadened its waiver policy to include all itineraries purchased before March 1 with upcoming departure dates through May 31, 2020. Customers with previously issued tickets may now have their trips rebooked before December 31, 2020, or 12 months from the original ticket date, whichever is earlier.
Newly purchased tickets must include travel between today and January 30, 2021, and rescheduled trips must be completed within a year of the original issue date. Itineraries may be changed online or by calling reservations, but keep in mind that although the change fee is waived, any difference in the fare price will apply.
It remains unclear if AAdvantage awards are excluded from the waiver policy, (they previously were), so reaching out directly to an AA representative is the best course of action regarding tickets booked with miles.
Delta Air Lines
For all domestic and international travel originally scheduled to depart through May 31, 2020, all change fees are waived, and you can rebook your trip to the same destination for travel departing before May 31, 2020, with no difference in fare applied. Trips rebooked to the same destination for travel departing between June 1 and December 31, 2020, no change fees will be assessed but a difference in fare may apply.
Delta has put forth a blanket waiver on all tickets (domestic and international) purchased between March 1 and April 15, 2020, allowing for multiple alterations free of change fees. Tickets purchased during this travel window are permitted changes for up to a year from the date of original purchase.
In all instances, ticket changes can be made online under the My Trips section of Delta.com, a change fee may initially display, but after selecting the new travel dates, it will disappear on the checkout page. Like all other carriers, a fare difference may apply.
Alternatively, if you choose to cancel your trip outright, the value of your ticket may be credited on a future Delta flight up to one year from the original purchase date.
SkyMiles award ticketed during this period are not clearly listed as part of the policy, so reaching out to a Delta representative is the cautious approach. For more information on travel regarding other affected regions, view Delta’s policy here.
Related: COVID-19 Flight Cancellations by Region and Airline
Customers can book confidently knowing that change fees on United flights will be waived for all itineraries purchased between March 3 and April 30, 2020, no matter the fare class. Tickets booked during this period are eligible for a one-time change to a flight of equal or lesser value valid over a period of one year from the original issue date of the ticket. For example, a ticket purchased on March 29, 2020, can be rescheduled through March 29, 2021. If the future flight is less in price, no residual value will be given; however, if the price is higher, customers will be required to pay the difference in cost.
Additionally, United has extended its waiver policy to include all itineraries purchased on or before March 2 with upcoming departure dates from today through May 31, 2020. Customers with previously issued tickets may now have their trips rebooked before December 31, 2020, or 12 months from the original ticket date, whichever is earlier.
Customers who decide to cancel tickets booked in the listed purchase period can do so with no additional charges. Ticket values will be apples in the form of credit for use on future United flights within 12 months of the ticket’s original issue date.
It has now been reported that United is redepositing award tickets free of charge and taxes being refunded on most award tickets. Contacting United directly and asking them to waive redeposit fees is the best plan of action until exact guidelines are stated on the United site.
Epidemic or not, Southwest has never charged change or cancellation fees. Customers who would like to change a flight itinerary on Southwest will only be liable for any fare difference (customers with travel through April 30, 2020, may now change their tickets without paying a fare difference). Southwest even offers a credit if the price drops after you have booked.
If you opt to cancel your reservation altogether, Southwest will issue a credit to your “travel fund” for use on a future flight within one year of the date of issue. Customers with funds that have expired or are set to between March 1 and May 31, 2020, will now expire on June 30, 2021.
After issuing the first fee waiver policy among major U.S. airlines, JetBlue has expanded its policy to passengers with existing itineraries with upcoming departures scheduled to commence through May 31, 2020, are now included in JetBlue’s fee waiver program. Flights may be rebooked for travel through October 24, 2020.
Additionally, customers who purchased tickets between now and April 30, 2020, may cancel or change flights free of charge for travel through October 24, 2020. Tickets purchased between March 6 and March 26, 2020, can rebook through September 8, 2020.
Cancellations will be refunded in the form of a credit toward the passengers JetBlue’s Travel Bank, and valid for one-year on future JetBlue travel. Refunds apply to all fares, even JetBlue’s most restrictive Blue Basic fares and also JetBlue Vacation Packages booked with the carrier. Changed tickets will still be subject to the cost of the fare difference, and only one rebooking is permitted.
Flights purchased with TrueBlue points will be redeposited free of charge. However, taxes paid on award tickets will be credited to the customer’s Travel Bank.
Related: 7 Must-Pack Items to Keep You Healthy While Traveling
Alaska Airlines has revamped its initial “peace of mind” policy to include a larger travel window for all tickets purchased between February 27 and April 30, 2020. Select tickets purchased between those dates may now make a one-time change or cancel through February 28, 2021.
Customers holding an itinerary with upcoming travel through May 31, 2020, now qualify for Alaska’s no change or cancellation fee policy, regardless of the booking date.
However, the previous separate restrictions still apply to Saver Fares.
Saver Fares purchased before April 30, 2020, for travel through February 28, 2021, are only eligible to cancel and redeposit funds into Alaska’s My Account wallet. Changes not permitted.
All other fares, including non-refundable First Class or Main fares booked before March 31, 2020, are entitled to a one-time date change at no extra cost (a fare difference may apply). Or free cancellation in which the value of the ticket will be deposited into a My Account travel wallet.
Mileage Plan award tickets qualify for Alaska’s updated cancellation policy and will be refunded and redeposited free of charge.
Hawaiian Airlines policy allows for waived change fees for new flights purchased between March 1 and May 31, 2020. Itineraries purchased during the window are entitled to a one-time date change to a future flight beginning before December 31, 2020. A fare difference will be collected for the price of the new trip, and customers must contact Hawaiian at least 24-hours before departure for waived fees.
Customers with any existing booking made prior to March 9 with upcoming departure dates between today and May 31, 2020, are now included in Hawaiian most updated policy. Guests holding previously issued tickets may now have their trips rebooked for travel commencing no later than December 31, 2020.
Award flights ticketed with HawaiianMiles may be redeposited without any fees. Other location-specific information about fee waivers to Asia, French Polynesia, Australia, and New Zealand can be viewed here.
Related: Strategies to Get a Refund on a Non-Refundable Airfare
In the wake of other low-cost carriers introducing flexible travel policies, Spirit has released a program allowing customers that need to alter their travel plans a one-time free modification. Fare differences will apply, and the best method to make these changes is to call or text Spirit’s Guest Care lines listed below:
- Call (801) 401-2222
- Text: 48763
- Text via WhatsApp to (801) 401-2222 with “Hello”
Customers wishing to cancel their trips altogether have the option to receive a reservation credit for the full value amount of their ticket. Credits are valid for up to 6 months from the issue date.
Flights to select destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean served by Spirit have imposed travel restrictions on incoming passengers. If you have upcoming travel to Aruba, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Peru, or St. Maarten, view each country’s travel restriction and code to contact Spirit about refunds or changes.
As a standard policy throughout the year, change fees are waived for Frontier passengers as long as they make alterations to their itineraries at least 60 days or more before departure. But amid concerns of the epidemic and travelers wishing to change travel plans on shorter notice, Frontier has implemented increased flexibility to the current policy. Passengers with tickets issued prior to March 10, 2020, with upcoming travel scheduled between today and May 20, 2020, are granted a one-time change to their itinerary without incurring change or cancel fees.
Customers booking new tickets between today and April 15, 2020, will also qualify for the one-time waiver to change or cancel free of charge.
On flight changes, travel must be completed before November 9, 2020, and will be subject to a price difference. If the flight is lower in price, no residual value will be returned to the customer. Passengers who prefer to cancel an itinerary will receive the full cost of the ticket to be used toward the purchase of another Frontier flight within 90 days of the cancellation. All changes must be made at least 24-hours before the flight’s scheduled departure time, and the easiest way to make adjustments to tickets is by dialing Frontier directly at (801) 401-9000.
Related: New No Change Fee Policy on Frontier Airlines
COVID-19 situation or not, Sun Country allows customers to change their trip reservation online free of charge as long as the departure date is 60 days out or more. However, due to the current situation, Sun Country will permit passengers with flights scheduled through May 31, 2020, to change or cancel tickets without fees. Flyers holding itineraries that qualify should call Sun Country directly at (651) 905-2737 between the hours of 6:00 am – 11:00 pm CDT, to make alternative travel plans. Passengers with international travel onboard Sun Country should view this page to view location-specific information about final flight operations and border closings.
There are no set waiver dates listed by Allegiant regarding which tickets may be changed or canceled, just simply that customers are allowed a one-time change without incurring additional fees. Passengers who wish to make changes to existing reservations are asked to call Allegiant’s Customer Care Center (702) 505-8888, email, or reach out via Twitter or Facebook; further instructions can be read here.
Related: The Travel Insurance You Need to Buy and the Kind You May Already Have
Coronavirus Waiver Policies on International Carriers
- Aer Lingus
- Air Canada
- Air France
- Air New Zealand
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific
- Copa Airlines
- El Al
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
- Korean Air
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Norwegian Air
- Porter Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- TAP Air Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Those who are traveling in the near future can monitor the spread of Covid-19 in real-time using this map provided by the World Health Organization.
You can find more information on how this virus is transmitted as well as protective measures you can take to stay safe.
Featured image: Shutterstock
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This story originally appeared on our sister site airfarewatchdog.com.
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