by Lyle Daly | March 19, 2020
Here's everything you need to know about changing your travel plans due to COVID-19.
The entire world is affected by COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, and those who have travel booked are being told to either postpone or cancel those plans. But how can you do that without waiting for hours on hold? And what are travel providers doing about their typical cancellation and change fees in this extraordinary situation?
We've got the answers to those questions and any others you might have about COVID-19 and travel bookings.
If you have any sort of trip booked in the near future, start by visiting the website of the travel provider you used to book the trip. Note that for bookings made with an online travel agent (OTA), such as Expedia or Priceline, you should go to the OTA's website.
Virtually every travel provider has a detailed help page dedicated to COVID-19. This help page will have information about any change and/or cancellation fee waivers the provider is offering and how you can modify a booking. There may be a link to this help page on the provider's homepage. If not, you can find it by going to the Help section. We've also included information on fee waivers for the major airlines in the section below.
You may be able to change or cancel your booking online. If that's not an option, then you'll likely need to call. However, most providers are requesting that you only call if your travel booking is coming up shortly (within 72 hours seems to be the most common timeframe). If your booking is further out than that and you need to call for service, it's better to wait so that phone agents can assist callers who need immediate attention.
Every travel provider has set up its own policies, but most are offering fee waivers for changes, cancellations, or both. These waivers can be subject to quite a few terms and conditions. Here are a few of the most common:
We've summarized the change/cancellation policies for the major U.S. airlines below. For more information, click an airline's link to visit its COVID-19 page.
If you used credit card points to book award travel through an airline or hotel's loyalty program, then you'll need to check their policy on COVID-19 changes and cancellations. Options are generally similar to what the airline/hotel offers on cash bookings.
On bookings made with points through credit card travel portals, your booking is subject to the policy of the travel provider. For example, if you booked a flight with JetBlue through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, JetBlue's policy regarding changes and cancellations would apply. If you're eligible to cancel your trip at no cost, then you could do that and receive a refund of your points.
In most cases, you'll need to modify bookings through the travel portal you used, either online or over the phone. There have been exceptions, though, including cases where consumers were able to change airfare they booked through a travel portal on the airline's website.
For more information on changes and cancellations to travel booked through a credit card travel portal, here are the COVID-19 pages for:
You'll need to check with your travel insurance provider to see whether it covers costs related to COVID-19. Most will have a dedicated COVID-19 page for this.
Unfortunately, most travel insurance policies won't cover the costs of canceling a trip due to COVID-19. Fear of contracting an illness generally isn't considered a valid reason for reimbursement. If you buy travel insurance for any trips going forward, the policy is likely to exclude COVID-19. Some providers are being more flexible with their terms and conditions, though, which is why it's best to check with yours to see what it says.
There is a type of travel insurance called Cancel for Any Reason coverage. As the name suggests, this travel insurance would cover you if you need to cancel your trip for COVID-1 concerns.
As travel providers update their policies seemingly by the day, it can be hard to know what your options are for booked travel. Here's a quick breakdown of what you should do if you have travel to push back or cancel:
Besides handling your travel bookings, you also want to make sure that your finances are in good shape during this pandemic. Be sure to follow these important financial steps so that you can weather the COVID-19 storm as best as possible.
If you have credit card debt, transferring it to this top balance transfer card can allow you to pay 0% interest for a whopping 18 months! That’s one reason our experts rate this card as a top pick to help get control of your debt. It’ll allow you to pay 0% interest on both balance transfers and new purchases until 2022, and you’ll pay no annual fee. Read our full review for free and apply in just 2 minutes.
We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.
The Ascent is a Motley Fool service that rates and reviews essential products for your everyday money matters.
Copyright © 2018 - 2021 The Ascent. All rights reserved.