Airline Refund due to Coronavirus – Here’s what you can do

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Last Updated on June 7, 2020 by Max

Right now, nothing is the same anymore. Holiday plans are on thin ice if not altogether canceled. But what will you do with your flight bookings if you cannot travel because of the coronavirus? Will your airline refund your ticket and what are your rights?

Nothing seems to be easy at the moment. In January, I booked a flight before I knew about the effects of the current outbreak.

After I had already paid, things took a turn for the worse. Before I knew it, the airline canceled my outbound flight. Would I ever see my money again? I decided to look into the matter.

Let’s look at some scenarios and what you can do: 

My flight’s been canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak, can I get a refund?

Is the money lost, or will you receive a refund or a voucher?

What you need to do is check whether your entire booking is canceled or not. Maybe only your outbound or return flight has been canceled.

If the airline canceled only one of your departures, you should contact them.

Contacting them can be done either by phone or under ‘Manage bookings’ on the airline’s website (and app). Be aware that calling your airline may not be accessible at the moment, as many others are trying to reach them by phone.

Most airlines offer their customers a voucher that you can redeem within the next 12 months. They also provide a free rebooking service.

Under ‘Manage bookings,’ it is often possible to request a voucher or rebook your flights.

Can I get a refund?

If you do not want to rebook or receive a voucher, you are entitled to a refund for the canceled flights.

Some airlines want to avoid refunds, as this means paying out money.

Therefore, your airline may only offer you a rebooking or a voucher.

However, if you are entitled to a refund, you can call the airline’s customer service department and ask for it. Be aware that you can’t get additional compensation right now as the reason for cancellation is a pandemic.

What you should do: Go to your booking on the airline’s website or app. See if you can get a voucher, refund or rebooking. In case you can’t find one of these options or the option you want, you’ll need to ask your airline’s customer service for help.

If you can’t get anyone on the phone, it might also be a good idea to contact them via social media such as Twitter.

My flight is not canceled, but I don’t want to travel anymore because of the corona outbreak. Will my airline refund? 

That depends on whether your government’s travel advisory does advise you to travel or not.

If your trip does not take place within this month, wait until about two weeks before departure to contact your airline. Currently, airlines usually cancel flights that are close to the departure date first.

If your flight has not (yet) been canceled or will not get canceled, but you do not want to fly, your airline may offer you to rebook or give you a travel voucher. 

Go to your bookings on the airline’s website (or app) and see if you have the option to receive a travel voucher or if you can rebook. If this does not seem possible, you may need to contact your airline for help.

I do not want a voucher, but a refund, is that possible? 

Not all airlines offer refunds due to an unexpected event, such as a pandemic.

Only if the airline canceled your flight, you are entitled to a refund.

Sometimes it can help to get your airline on the phone. They will most likely offer you a refund. Make sure that they send you a confirmation e-mail of the reimbursement or cancellation.

The U.S. Department of transportation announced on April 3, 2020:

“U.S. and foreign airlines remain obligated to provide a prompt refund to passengers for flights to, within, or from the United States when the carrier cancels the passenger’s scheduled flight or makes a significant schedule change and the passenger chooses not to accept the alternative offered by the carrier.”  

So if your flight was canceled or delayed, you are entitled to a refund. 

Does my travel insurance help me to get a refund?

The outbreak of the COVID-19 virus is known as an event of January 21, 2020.

If you purchased your travel insurance after this date, it might not cover the cancellation of your trip because the outbreak was already known. However, if you purchased your travel insurance before this date, you should be able to claim it.

Maybe the company has not contacted you on this matter. In this case, contact your insurance agent for further information. 

However, you should still contact your airline regarding your flights. They will probably offer you a full refund, a rebooking or a voucher.

Your travel insurance can help you to get a refund for your accommodation, as this can be a bit more difficult. Contact your travel insurance company and inform them of your situation.

Can I get my travel insurance reimbursed?

When it comes to getting your travel insurance reimbursed, you will, in most cases, have to be content with transferring your insurance to a future trip.

Now, let’s look into how the individual airlines are handling refunds during the coronavirus pandemic.

Refund Procedures by Airline

American Airlines

The airline waives the change fee for flight tickets if you:

  • purchased on or before April 7, 2020. 
  • book a new flight for a future journey in the period from March 1 to May 31, 2020. You can rebook it later without paying change fees. 
  • have a trip planned in the period from March 1 to September 30, 2020.

You can cancel your flight online and rebook later. After you cancel your trip, you will receive a confirmation e-mail about the cancelation. When you want to rebook, you must call the airline’s customer service. 

Remember that you are only entitled to a full refund if the airline cancels your flight. 

Find more information at American Airlines

Delta Airlines

For domestic and international flights, the airline waives all change fees if the plane should have departed in March, April, and May 2020. The same applies if you have purchased or will purchase a ticket between March 1 and May 31, 2020, but cannot travel due to the outbreak. 

Delta Airlines writes in the FAQ that you can get a refund if the airline cancels your flight or delays it for more than 90 minutes. You must request the refund yourself. 

If they didn’t cancel your flight, but you do not wish to fly, you can cancel it and receive eCredit on your account. You can then use it for future bookings. 

Remember that you are only entitled to a full refund if the airline cancels your flight. 

For more information visit Delta Airlines

Alaska Airlines 

You can make changes to trips planned before May 31, 2020. 

The airline may cancel your flight and reschedule for the next available departure. If this is the case, you can keep the new date, rebook, cancel for a voucher or receive a refund.

Tickets purchased from February 27 to May 31, 2020, and scheduled from February 27, 2020, to February 28, 2021 can be rebooked without rebooking fees. You can also cancel your trip and deposit your funds in the ‘My Account’ Wallet or receive a voucher for future trips.

If your flight is canceled, you are entitled to a refund.

For more information visit Alaska Airlines

Frontier Airlines 

If the airline did not (yet) cancel your flight, you can either rebook or cancel any tickets purchased between March 10 and April 15, 2020.

You can only rebook once without any fees. You can also change the destination. in case the fare is more expensive, you must pay the difference.

Non-refundable tickets are non-refundable. In case you want to rebook your flight, you must do so at least 24 hours before departure. When you cancel your trip, you will receive credits that you have to use before November 9, 2020. 

If they cancel your flight, you are entitled to a refund. Have you not yet received an e-mail regarding a reimbursement, be sure to contact the airline by phone. Please refer to ‘My Trip’ for cancellation information.

Find more information at Frontier Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines 

The airline will not charge any change fees for tickets purchased between March 1 and May 31, 2020.

However, the new departure date must be within one year of the time of the original ticket purchase. If there is a difference in fare, you may have to pay extra.

Tickets purchased before March 1, 2020, you can rebook to a new date that is within one year of the date of your original ticket purchase without change fees. 

If you were unable to cancel your flight before departure, you receive credits in case you did not board your scheduled flight. 

Maybe your airline canceled your flight. If so, you should have received an e-mail from the airline with instructions. Should you not have received an e-mail, you can contact the airline’s Reservation Department.

Remember that you are entitled to a refund if the airline cancels the flight.

For more information visit Hawaiian Airlines

JetBlue 

As with the other airlines mentioned so far, JetBlue waives all change fees and cancellation fees for tickets purchased for flights on or before May 31, 2020. That means you can rebook or cancel all tickets purchased for flights departing before May 31, 2020. 

If you decide to cancel your flight, you will receive the amount in the form of funds placed in a JetBlue Travel Bank Credit. You can then use these funds within 24 months. 

The airline waives all change and cancellation fees for all new bookings that planned to depart the latest January 4, 2021. 

If the airline cancels your flight, you are entitled to a refund.

Find more information at JetBlue

Southwest Airlines 

If you do not wish to travel, you can cancel your flight free of charge up to ten minutes before departure. You can then rebook another flight for your travel funds. These are valid for one year from the date of purchase of your original ticket. 

Rebooking your flight rather than cancelling it is possible. You can rebook to a date 60 days after your original departure. Traveling the same route, will not cause a price difference.

If the airline cancels your flight, you are entitled to a refund.

For more information visit Southwest Airlines

Spirit Airlines 

Rebooking or cancelling a purchased trip with Spirit Airlines, can do it under “My Trips’ on their website. There are no rebooking or cancellation fees.

If you decide to cancel your trip, you will receive the full purchase price (all passengers in the booking) as a booking credit. You should use it within 12 months. 

However, if the airline canceled your flight, you will receive a reservation credit. If you want a refund, you must contact them. The same applies if the airline reschedules your departure, but you want a refund instead of the new flight time. 

Remember that you are entitled to a refund if the airline has canceled your flight.

Find more information at Spirit Airlines

United Airlines 

Tickets purchased between March 3, 2020, and April 30, 2020, can be rebooked or canceled during the next 12 months with no change or cancellation fees.

You can book a new one with departure within 12 months of the date you purchased your original tickets, when you cancel your flight. 

If you bought your ticket on or before March 2, 2020, you must trade before April 30, 2020. 

If the airline cancels your flight, you are entitled to a refund. Should this be the case, you can choose to rebook your flight or receive a full refund on your ticket. Under My Trip, you can select a reimbursement or a new date.

For more information visit United Airlines

SAS 

SAS offers refunds for canceled flights or vouchers and rebooking. 

In case the airline canceled your flight, SAS gives you a coupon valid for one year from the date of issue. If you do not manage to use your voucher within one year, you will receive a full refund. 

It could be, that you do not want a voucher but a refund. Then you must request a refund. The processing of your refund request currently takes longer than usual. You will receive an e-mail from SAS when they sent you the money. 

If they did not cancel your flight, you have the option of rebooking your flight or receiving a voucher if your fare is non-refundable. 

To receive a voucher, you must hold an unused ticket departing between April 15, 2020, and May 15, 2020. Your departure must be before November 30, 2020, if you use the voucher. 

If you have booked a flight to/from the USA, you can rebook it. If SAS canceled your trip, you can request a refund or receive a voucher.

Find more information at SAS

Lufthansa 

Lufthansa recommends that you keep your unused flight ticket and only contact them when you have decided on new travel plans. Your unused plane ticket purchased before/on April 19, 2020, will stay valid. It can be used later for rebooking before August 31, 2020. This without change fees. 

You can rebook tickets purchased before/on April 19, 2020, to a date of your choice before December 31, 2020, and receive a discount of up to 50 euros on your fare. You can even change the destination, with no change fees. 

If you wish to get a refund, you should be able to request a refund for your bookings. Is it not possible to get a refund online? Then call the customer service department in your country.

For more information visit Lufthansa

KLM

Regardless of whether you or KLM cancel your flight, booked before/on April 16, 2020, and a departure before or on July 3, 2020, the airline will refund you with a voucher.

You can redeem this voucher within one year from the date of the original ticket. However, if KLM cancels your flight due to the outbreak, you are entitled to a full cash refund.

Therefore, do not settle with just a voucher (if you want a refund). However, obtaining a cash refund can be quite tricky if the airline is determined not to make a cash refund.

If KLM does not cancel your flight, you can rebook or request a travel voucher. Cancelling your trip yourself, entitles you to a travel voucher and not a cash refund. You can change or cancel your flight and request a travel voucher under ‘My Trip.’

The good news is that the airline, like most other airlines, waives all change and cancellation fees. If you choose a more expensive fare, you may have to pay additional fees.

Find more information at KLM

What can I do if the airline canceled my flight but does not want to refund?

First of all know your rights. When the airline cancels your flight, you are always entitled to a full refund. Always try to contact the airline again. If you can’t get them on the phone, some people reported that they were lucky to get their attention via social media.

If nothing helps, you can contact a company like Flightright. They may be able to help you get your refund.

The most important thing is not to give up!

How were your travel plans affected by the corona virus? Let us know in the comments!

Disclaimer:

The views and thoughts expressed on this website belong solely to the author. The information provided in this article is intended as a general overview and guide and should be used for information purposes only. Always refer to your airline and its FAQ about the outbreak for individual options and rules on their website. We do not guarantee that the information is valid throughout, as airlines may change their policies at any time. However, we try to keep it as up to date as possible. 

The information contained in this article is provided on an “as is” basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness, or timeliness and without any warranties of any kind whatsoever, express or implied.

We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of the information posted in this article. Any action you take upon the information from this article is strictly at your own risk, and we will not be liable for any losses and damages in connection with the use of our website and content.

Maya is a travel expert and the co-founder of LiveYourTravel. She is a passionate nomadic traveler and writer who loves to explore new places, cultures, and people. Join her here on Live Your Travel, where she shares her best travel tips and priceless hacks with you.

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