The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is altering more and more travel plans as days – even hours – go by.
With new restrictions announced every day, it is significant to know how to act in the situation of – sometimes unexpectedly – cancelled flight.
Nowadays we all witness how massive travel disruptions could happen due to governmental restrictions. With new cases emerging one after another, the traveller always has to know how to act in such a situation.
What should I do if my flight was cancelled due to coronavirus related travel restrictions?
As the governmental travel restrictions, related to ongoing coronavirus outbreak aren’t related to any actions which could be taken with an airline responsible for the decision-making, it is considered by (EC) 261/2004 as extraordinary circumstances. So if your flight was cancelled due to this situation, you are not entitled to disrupted flight compensation even if the cancellation was announced less than 14 days before scheduled departure.
In any case, if the airline fails to reach you immediately after announcing the cancellation, contact the air carrier yourself and ask for the abovementioned assistance due to change in your travel plans.
There is one ‘but’ though – as some airlines have honestly stated that some flight suspensions are not directly related to actual travel bans, but rather to decreasing passenger flows. So even if later circumstances could be related to the coronavirus outbreak, it is obvious that such cancellations are made due to an air carrier decision – and not because of some force majeure.
The airline is always responsible for adequate communication
And even in such a situation, airlines usually have a particular interest in ensuring that passengers of these flights would not only be properly informed of their rights in the event of a flight disruption, but also of the opportunities for further action to resolve any uncertainties as quickly as possible and to alter their travel plans accordingly.
How airlines are altering their policies due to coronavirus pandemic?
Here is the most important information on the major airlines’ policies.
The airline decided to proceed with the temporary suspension of its international flights, as of March 26. Up until April 30th, all international network flights, from all Aegean bases, will be temporarily suspended. A small number of weekly flights from Athens to Brussels will be operated.
The airline also informs that, for the time being, it will maintain a limited frequency flight service to all domestic network, aiming to facilitate minimum essential connectivity for the island’s needs. Passengers are encouraged to visit the company’s website as all related information with regards flight cancellations or the registration process for the credit voucher, already offered by the carrier, are available online.
For the passengers, whose flights were cancelled, but the need to travel on a later date still exists, there was implemented zero fare difference and no rebooking fees, to any future date until 21 March 2021.The airline states that such policy is valid for changes until 10 April 2020.
From March 16 onwards, Aeroflot has cancelled flights to all of its European destinations except routes between Moscow and Amsterdam, Athens, Berlin, Brussels, Bucharest, Budapest, Dublin, Geneva, Helsinki, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Paris, Rome, Sofia, Stockholm, and Zagreb.
Passengers who bought tickets before 31 May for Aeroflot flights that got cancelled, as well as passengers affected by individual restrictions (e.g. enforced quarantine or cancellation of visa-free entry; annulment of previously issued visas), can apply for an refund and receive a refund of the full ticket price at the original point of sale until the end of the year. Otherwise, they can make a one-time change to the departure date to any date until the end of the year, while retaining the original point of departure, destination and service class, without incurring additional fees. Another option is to make a one-time change of route to any flight with the carrier till the end of the year. No rebooking fee will be charged, although fare difference can be applied.
The air carrier is expected to resume its flights as early as on 13th of May. It was recently announced that not only all the bookings made up to that day can be changed to a later date for travel within 2020, but such policy also applies for newly bought tickets. If the original fare is no longer available, the corresponding fare difference must be paid. The airline also offers additional €20 for a direction if travellers decide to get a refund for already cancelled flights in travel vouchers.
With the suspension of flights on more than 160 routes worldwide – as for now, until June – the airline is now serving almost exclusively domestic routes across Canada. The passengers who have booked a flight before April 15th, can make a one-time change to your existing booking without a fee, up until two hours before your flight. There is also a possibility to rebook the travel immediately and fly to the same destination at a later date or change to a different destination. The rebooked travel should take place before April 30th, 2021.
As the airline cancelled almost all of its flights scheduled before April 19, it also stated that such a decision was taken not only due to the increasing limits imposed on travel, but also as the result of the consequent decrease in demand for air travel in Italy and Europe. Considering the exceptional circumstances caused by the current epidemiological situation, the carrier states that it ‘aligns itself with the measures already taken by some other airlines of the Lufthansa Group to which it belongs.’ It is still operating a minimum number of flights between Italy and Germany, namely on the Milan Malpensa-Frankfurt route.
The flight will depart from Milan Malpensa in the morning to return from Frankfurt in the early afternoon and will be the only connection between northern Italy and Germany. In compliance with the restrictions provided, the company wants to offer an essential service to all those who, even in an emergency, need to move or return to their country.
The air carrier already announced a significant cut in it’s flight capacity which will be in effect until at least the first half of May. Such a decision was made not only due to increasing travel restrictions, but also because of a sharp decline in demand. All flight tickets which were bought before 31 March can be changed to a later travel date until the end of May, free of charge. As there is already a significant flight capacity reduction on a number of routes.
Another significant change in Air France operations is related to the complete shut down of the Paris-Orly airport which came into effect on the 1st of April. Airline already adopted its flight schedule and regrouping its Paris operations at Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport. As the result of that, flights to/from Cayenne, Fort-de-France, Pointe-à-Pitre and St. Denis de la Réunion is transferred to Paris-CDG airport – as well as flights to/from Toulouse, Nice and Marseille.
As the seats on later flights could be limited in availability, so there could be a price difference to be paid if the only seats left would be not in the same travel class, but in the higher one. For those who have a ticket for the flight operated by Air France, the airline recommends to plan a return trip to Europe as soon as possible, by modifying the booking online.
It also encourages its clients to purchase a new ticket at a special fare. Then it would be possible to cancel the original flight and obtain a non-refundable travel voucher valid for one year on all Air France, KLM, Delta Air Lines, Kenya Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights.
The air carrier already clarified the offers issued in the middle of April after feedback received from customers. The airline reiterated that the offers of travel vouchers or credits for the future flights as a refund are of an optional nature in order to reaffirm its commitment towards its loyal customers. The options offered do not replace, but are an alternative to a cash refund, and are intended to ensure the ongoing partnership that protects its customers who had their flights cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic and cannot benefit from an immediate re-routing, whilst ensuring the short-term financial stability and operation of all the stakeholders in the travel distribution chain.
The options offer more flexibility and value to customers in the form of travel vouchers that range from future credits to an extra 30% Travel Voucher of the value of the fare purchased.
Regarding the situation resulting from the coronavirus pandemic and the temporary suspension of all commercial international traffic in the region, Air Serbia had been forced to temporarily suspend passenger transport. Such suspension is expected to last from March 19 at least to the end of April, but might be extended.
In an effort to help all the passengers whose flights were cancelled due to traffic disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and who are not sure when they will be travelling next, Air Serbia has created a special credit voucher enabling passengers to buy a ticket for a future date.The Serbian national air carrier invites all its passengers who do not know the precise date of their future travels to visit the carrier’s site and collect their voucher without having to call our Contact Centre. The credit voucher is in the value of the passenger’s initially paid fare, with the added value of 10 percent calculated on the net fare and fuel tax, and is valid for redemption one year from the date it was issued.
The Austrian flag carrier decided to temporarily halt all of its regular flights from March 18 and as of the beginning of May is returning to its previous capacity with very small steps. As the airline states, this move is a response to both entry bans being imposed across the globe as well as the rapid decline in demand for air travel. Austrian Airlines will cancel all flights up. Passengers who have booked a flight during the time will be rebooked on other airlines if possible.
The airline also states that all travellers who, due to tecnichal reasons determined by the update of the systems, have purchased on its website a ticket from Spain to Italy (and viceversa) on flights in codeshare with Air Europa, which were canceled, will be refunded at the full value of the ticket.
The carrier announced that it is reducing its flight capacity on the majority of routes from 60 percent in April to even 80 percent in May. To provide travellers affected by wide cancellations with more flexibility and control, the company waived change fees for certain dates of travel.
For those who bought their ticket before April 7, for travel through September 30, the flight can be rebooked without change fees.
If a traveller has a ticket that is expiring between March 1 and September 30, the value of unused ticket can be used for travel through December 31, 2021. However, price difference should be remembered and covered in some cases.
Despite the fact that the airline cancelled only its flights to Moscow, Batumi, Tbilisi, Almaty, Kiev, Odessa, Lviv and Kharkov more suspensions can be announced at any time due to more and more airspace and civilian traffic closures implemented by a growing number of countries. Both for those whose flights were cancelled as well as for those who can not travel because of entry restrictions imposed by many countries worldwide, there is a possibility to change a departure date for cancelled flights which can be made until December 31, 2020.
There is an option to contact the ticket offices, airline representative offices, as well as the support service on this issue at any time until the end of 2020, so the airline states that there is no need to do it right now, as all the ticket data is stored in their system. However, the ticket date can be changed only once.
As the flight suspension on the majority of routes is intended to last until May 16, it can be extended to a later date. For all the canceled flights, the passengers who were affected, are informed by sms and email about the possibilities they have, namely, credit the entire amount paid for the canceled flight, as a voucher.
For flights canceled due to the ongoing pandemic, BlueAir came to meet customers by automatically issuing a voucher representing the amount of the canceled ticket. This voucher can be used to purchase other tickets or services from the Blue Air website and is valid for 12 months after its issue. There is also a possibility to change the travel date without additional costs, but such options are subject to availability. Another option is to request a reimbursement of the amount paid for the canceled flight.
British national air carrier already announced much greater flexibility to change the destination, date of travel, or both without a change fee, on all new bookings made from 3 March to 31 May, or receive a voucher for any existing bookings for flights initially scheduled for up to 31 May. Flights have to be rebooked up to 12 months from the initial date of flight.
The air carrier drastically reduced its capacity on all of the previously serviced routes with only exception being the still operating flights from Zagreb to Madrid and back. However, as with a number of other airlines in the region, there also could be a possibility to book a ticket to a repatriation flight or a charter which would be about to operate on a one-time basis on some specific route. The carrier states that passengers who already had existing or newly booked tickets up to April 19th for all domestic and international flights up to May 31 can benefit from an unlimited number of rebookings without a rebooking fee.
Delta Air Lines
The air carrier is now considerably limiting trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights as well as flights to South and Central America. All affected customers are urged to contact the company by electronic communication channels. Tickets purchased between March 1 and May 31, 2020, can be changed without a change fee for up to a year.
After grounding almost its entire fleet, one of the biggest low-cost carriers in Europe informed that all the customers affected by these changes are asked to contact the airline either for rebooking or rerouting options as well as regarding the opportunity to get the refund for tickets already bought. It is expected that the flights will resume in June – at least in reduced capacity, but the exact date will be announced later as the current situation is still changing rapidly.
With reduced capacity on a number of routes, the air carrier continues to operate its flights and reassures all the passengers affected by cancellations that all Emirates tickets booked before 31 May for travel up to 31 August will be automatically extended for 760 days. Customers holding such tickets can be assured their tickets will be valid later, and they can rebook when they decide to travel.
Whenever they are ready to travel again, within two years from the day their ticket was originally issued, they simply need to contact Emirates or their travel agents to reschedule their flight. Their ticket will be accepted for any flight to the same Emirates destination or to another city within the same Emirates region with no fees for changes. Those who wish to rebook their ticket to travel to another region can also do so – Emirates will not charge reissuance fees, only any applicable fare difference.
Another option is to require a travel voucher as such vouchers will be valid for one year from the date the voucher was issued, and can be extended for a second year. The voucher can be used for any Emirates product or service, which means customers can use it to offset charges for flights to any destination in any cabin class, or other services. No change fees apply to this voucher, so customers will have more flexibility to reschedule when they are ready to travel again.
The last option is, of course, a refund. Customers who have opted to keep their ticket or opted for a travel voucher can still apply for a refund, if they are unable to travel. The air carrier states that there will be no reduction in ticket price while paying out the refund.
The majority of routes, operated by air carrier weren’t affected by any cancellation, but travellers may face some alterations on their next journey with Gulf Air. Namely, from now on, the airline r urges all its passengers to visit their website to check the status of their flights before travelling and ensure that their contact details are updated. Passengers who have made their bookings through a travel agent are advised to get in touch with the agents directly regarding their rebooking and refund options.
During this period, online check-in will be temporarily disabled due to travel restrictions that are continuously changing; passengers are advised to arrive at the airport 4 hours before their departure time to check-in and are reminded to bring their own face masks, hand gloves and abide by social distancing rules.
The airline also states that it is experiencing higher than usual call volumes and may take more time than usual to answer customer calls. For further assistance, passengers may contact the airline on Facebook Messenger or through direct messages on Twitter. If your flight is not within the next 72 hours, the airline is asking its passengers to consider getting in touch with the carrier later.
For all travels between March 1 and April 30, there is a possibility to change the dates until November 30 (for tickets issued before March 11) or request a voucher for the amount of the ticket valid until December 31, 2020. However, there are some blackout dates: April 3 to 13; from April 30 to May 2; from June 16 to August 15; and from October 9 to 12.
As governmental restrictions and border shutdowns are implemented even further across the whole Europe, Middle East and North America, more and more flights are cancelled every day but the airline is stating that it will keep up with its obligation to the travellers who should be informed about the force change in their travel plans as soon as possible. The airline is waiving change fees on tickets issued on or before 31 March. This would be valid for travel between 4 March and 31 May 2020 and the tickets can be rebooked for free as such additional costs are waived until further notice.
Along with the other airlines in Lufthansa Group Airlines, the air carrier offers additional flexibility for any travel plans of its customers. If the initial flight they were about to take was cancelled, the ticket remains valid and can be used at a later stage. If there is no need – or possibility to fly in the coming days, the airline welcomes the customers to contact the carrier in order to make a rebooking.
It is now announced that all travel tickets bought before 5 March for travel through 30 April, can be changed to another date free of charge up to the end of the year. No rebooking fees will be applied on flights purchased between 6 and 31 March. In addition, air carrier is believed to extend the flexibility of bookings even further.
The company suspended all operations of Luxair & LuxairTours entities in the following manner: Luxair flight operations are halted from 24 March to May 30 and LuxairTours holiday operations are suspended from 23 March to May 30.
Customers who have booked directly with LuxairTours will receive a voucher corresponding to the amount already paid to the company. The voucher will be sent automatically to affected customers and will contain all details about the conditions of use.
Nevertheless, the company states that this process might take a few weeks considering the huge volume to handle. This exceptional measure has already been approved by the French, German and Belgian authorities, while Luxembourg authorities have decided to suspend the refunds during the period of the crisis.
Customers who had to fly back home earlier than planned between 16 March and 22 March are also entitled to receive a voucher. The amount of the voucher will be equivalent to the number of non-used accommodation nights and must be requested via contact form.
The current suspension of all domestic and international flights to or from Poland is expected to last at least until 11 April. Therefore all the flights operated by air carrier which were scheduled until April 11, 2020 have been cancelled, including those operating outside Poland, e.g. from or to Hungary or Netherlands. The airline stated that all cancelled flights will be refunded. All the bookings made on March 6 or later for travel before April 24, 2020 are eligible for rebooking for travel until December 31. However, fare difference will apply.
In line with the measures taken by the Turkish government, wishing to reduce the effects of the further development of epidemic, both domestic and international flights of the carrier have been completely stopped as of March 27. Those who still wish to take a domestic flight previously operated by the airline, can ask for a rebooking on one of the few Turkish Airlines domestic flights which are still operating. Such option is also available for some international flights, but a date change may be implemented, so every traveller who was about to fly in the time of lockdown or shortly afterwards is suggested to contact the airline for an individual solution.
The air carrier has informed that all the passengers from all destinations served by the airline can still travel and transit through Hamad International Airport, but all such travel is subject to entry restrictions at their final destination.
However, because of the operational challenges faced due to the ongoing outbreak, the company has altered or cancelled some of its services. If you are affected, you can re-book your ticket to alternative dates or destinations, opt to receive a voucher for future travel, or get a refund. This policy applies to all tickets issued anytime until 30 September, for travel on or before the same date.
If your flight is operating normally and you have booked or are planning to book tickets for travel up to 30 September, but you wish to change your travel plans, you can alter your travel date free of charge (fare differences may apply), or exchange your ticket for a future travel voucher valid for one year, up to 3 days prior to departure. This includes award flights.
You will need to hold immigration approval to land at the final city in your itinerary that is operated by Qatar Airways, even if you are taking a connecting flight afterwards.
One of the biggest European airlines has grounded almost its entire fleet with the cancellations affecting the majority of Ryanair routes. For those who were about to travel with Ryanair in the following months, the air carrier announced a rebooking fee waiver. The airline also offers to refund, rebook or re-route (the latter being only an offer as the airline is known to disagree on any rerouting possibility when specifically asked for such an option) the journey for the passengers of the flights which are already grounded.
For the passengers who were about to travel in the upcoming months, an adequate amount of patience while reaching the airlines’ representative should be an imperative. As there was reported, the airline is holding most of the refunds till the end of lockdown in most European countries.
While the airline is about to continue its operations on a reduced capacity, it is offering a flexible ticket change policy for the flights that already got cancelled. If the traveller is about to refuse the trip, he or she can return the ticket, even if it was purchased at the rate of the Basic group. It doesn’t matter when the purchase was made – was it this year or last – or when the passenger was planning to fly, it can certificate for the cost of purchased services in full amount.
The air carrier states that ‘in gratitude for the understanding, it will charge a certificate with an additional 10 percent to the amount of the return.’ In other cases, the refund will be carried out according to the air carrier’s rules for applying the tariff.
In fact, the airline is offering to issue a certificate for the cost purchased services, which can be used to pay for S7 Airlines tickets and services within 1 year, including at the sale. The company states that it can not only return the money, but also let the travellers to remain in the plus, because the fee for returning a certificate is rather symbolic – only a few euros per ticket.
The air carrier temporarily halted most of its flights until further notice. Although, the airline points out that it is still operating some of its intercontinental flights after altering the schedules. Such flights are namely operated on a Stockholm – New York route which – as for now – will be served on the following weekdays : Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The Europe-bound leg of this route will be served with New York – Stockholm flights served on the following weekdays: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The air carrier reminds its passengers that these flights are open for sale also for those who wants to rebook themselves to either Stockholm – New York or New York – Stockholm flights.
Customers can rebook free of charge on new bookings purchased through 19 March for travel through 30 November, 2020. For existing tickets the airline is waiving change fees for bookings made before 12 March for travel between 12 March and 30 April. However, the new travel date must be between 12 March and 30 November.
TAP Air Portugal
The air carrier extended its fleet grounding into late May, exceptions being domestic flights and flights between Lisbon and Luxembourg, Geneva, Paris, London Heathrow, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.
Airline has also extended the possibility of rescheduling already booked flights, without paying the change fee, for any TAP route and for any travel date up until the end of the year.
The airline announced that all of its international flights are suspended at least until May 28. A few exceptions are the routes which still are about to be served, namely Chicago, Washington, Hong Kong, Moscow and Addis Ababa.
All tickets bought before March 20 for travel until the end of the year are subject to Zero Change Fee or Change to Open Ticket rights. Change requests can be made through the Turkish Airlines sales offices, call center, online channels and agencies from which the ticket was purchased. The airline also notes that the right to Zero Change Fee is for one time only and within the scope of the right to Change to Open Ticket, the current ticket should be cancelled at least an hour prior to the flight.
Ukraine International Airlines
The air carrier suspended all scheduled flights throughout its route network through May 22, 2020. Passengers who plan to fly starting from that date are advised to keep themselves updated on flight schedule and status changes on.
The air carrier also stated that it is not able to operate its call center anymore, so the travellers, affected by such cancellations are asked to fill out a feedback form on the Ukraine International website to make changes to their ticket or to receive an electronic voucher, which will allow you to issue new tickets on air carrier’s website during the year.
The air carrier stated that the suspension of its flights to Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Vienna, Riga, Berlin and Milan until the end of May. For the passengers affected by such and further suspensions – along with those who can not travel due to governmental restrictions, the carrier offers the return the full cost of the ticket without deductions or to exchange a ticket once for any date until May 31, in given direction without a fee for exchange and surcharge (for tickets on a round-trip route, it is necessary that the date of one flight be in the specified period). From that date the fee will be applied again, but it will be reduced to a rather symbolic price.
There is also a possibility to redeem a ticket once for any date from June 1 to December 31, in an initial direction without an exchange fee, with a surcharge up to the affordable fare. It is again stated that for tickets on a round-trip route, it is necessary that the date of one flight be in the specified period.
Travellers whose flight was cancelled or they can not or wish not to travel can make a rebooking and pick a new ticket for travel which can be made up to 30 April 2021, but is subjected to availability and any difference in fare. No change fee will be applied.
If you rebook to finish travel by 30 June 2020, no difference in fare or change fee will be charged. However, the air carrier states that it can only rebook flights up to 331 days in advance. So if you’re looking to fly after that, please wait until flights are available.
There is also a possibility to reroute a trip to, from or via another destination, up to 30 April 2021. Again, no change fees, but flights are subject to availability and any difference in the fare. Another option is to leave a ticket open: if you’re unsure of your new travel dates, we’ll keep your ticket open until you’re ready to rebook. You’ll just need to make sure you rebook and travel by the 30 April 2021.
There’s no charge to do this but your new flights will be subject to availability and any potential fare difference. This process is only for bookings made directly with Virgin Atlantic. If you’ve booked through Virgin Holidays, or through another website or travel agent, it is suggested to contact them for any options available.
Another airline outstretched its previously announced fleet grounding until the end of May with another extension still possible. Passengers directly affected will be informed via email using the contact details provided in their reservation. In these email communications they will be informed about the options available to manage the booking online.
To ensure flexibility, the company is upgrading those passengers who don’t have its Flex service in their reservation so they can enjoy its advantages for rebooking. Therefore it will be possible for every traveller who was about to travel with Volotea to change the flight’s date or destination without paying any additional flight change fees, as many times as he or she needs up to 4 hours before departure, or get the reservation amount in Volotea credit to use within the next 12 months.
As the airline is drastically cutting its capacity on selected destinations, passengers affected by such cancellations are offered a travel date change. Wizz Air also states that “Customers who have booked directly on wizzair.com or the airline’s mobile app will receive an email notification, in which they are offered a free rebooking or full refund or 120 percent refund of the original fare in airline credit.”
It is also important to note that the Regulation has already made a significant contribution to a lot of policies which are usually taken by airlines in the events of such massive flight cancellations. Therefore even non-EU-registered airlines have already developed a practice of being proactive both in communication with passengers as well as in resolving the situation themselves. However, in the current period of highly dynamic events due to the coronavirus pandemic, it is also important for passengers on disrupted flights to respond appropriately if airlines do not contact them immediately after the cancellation has been announced.
As more and more countries are discouraging citizens from all but essential travel, some have already announced strict restrictions on travel abroad.
So it is also worth checking all the travel-related information, including the latest official government bulletins, right before you go.