Keeping Up with COVID-19 Travel Policy ChangesMay 9, 2020 | By Leah Freeman-Haskin
If there is one certainty during this global crisis, it’s that things are changing quickly. From travel restrictions to social distancing mandates, it seems like new information is coming out daily depending on where you live. Keeping up with change and cancellation policies may feel daunting, but here are a few tips to keep you in the know and traveling safely.
If You’ve Already Booked Your Travel
If your travel is already booked, and you need to make changes due to coronavirus impacts, check with your providers. Many trip operators, hotels, and airlines are updating their cancellation and refund policies. For trip operators, in particular, they’re encouraging folks to reschedule or take a credit rather than a full refund. This way you’ll be ready to go once restrictions are lifted and you’ll be helping small businesses stay afloat. Be patient when you reach out, companies are getting way more customer service calls than they’re used to, but most of them are doing the right thing and figuring out ways to work with their customers.
Here’s a summary of updated airline policies:
Any ticket (both domestic and international) purchased between March 1 and May 31, 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 April 7 with upcoming departure dates through September 30, 2020.
Delta Air Lines
For all domestic and international travel originally scheduled to depart through September 30, 2020, all change fees are waived, and you can rebook your trip to the same destination for travel departing before September 30, 2020, with no difference in fare applied.
Change fees on United flights will be waived for all itineraries purchased between March 3 and April 30, 2020, no matter the fare class. United has also extended its waiver policy to include all itineraries purchased on or before March 2 with upcoming departure dates from today through December 31, 2020.
If you decide not to travel, as long as you cancel your flight at least 10 minutes before its scheduled departure, the funds used to pay for a nonrefundable ticket (Wanna Get Away® fares) are normally valid for one year from the date of purchase. However, in recognition of the current travel environment, the airline is extending the expiration date of some travel funds. If you’re having trouble getting a resolution, check out your government’s policies. For example, in the US, the Department of Transportation has mandated airlines to refund passengers in the event flights are canceled, significant schedule changes or made, or government restrictions prevent flying due to the coronavirus outbreak.
If You’re Considering Booking Travel Now for a Future Date
There are certainly some pros and cons to booking your flights and hotel reservations now for a future travel date. Some of the pros to consider are the current deals you will find around the web. Hotels and airlines are slashing prices due to the steep decline in travel, and now is a good time to snag an incredible deal. Another pro is that airlines and hotels will be stricter than ever when it comes to their cleaning and sanitizing policies.
However, you should also consider the cons, which are mostly based on the uncertainties of the coming months. Will there be travel restrictions to your destination city? Will attractions and tourist destinations be open or will social distancing still be in effect? If you are going to purchase reservations now, be sure that you are flexible and prepared for possible last-minute changes to your plans.