As the effects of COVID-19 continue to evolve, airlines worldwide are rapidly adjusting their cancellation and change policies to allow for more flexibility for their passengers. While many airlines have temporarily grounded part or all of their fleets, the safety and well-being of passengers and crew are at the top of their priority list.

To assist our Tripadvisor travelers, we’ve amassed some of the most most-frequently asked questions. However, there is no substitute for working directly with your airline.  

Always check your airline’s website for the latest information on cancellation or change policies. You can also visit Tripadvisor’s Air Travel forums to exchange information with other travelers, like you.  

 

FAQs: 

If I purchased a nonrefundable airfare ticket, is it changeable or refundable during the COVID-19 crisis?

Most airlines will issue a full purchase credit valid for up to one year for use on a future flight. Many have waived cancellation fees typically associated with this type of request.

Policies vary by airline, so it’s best to check with your specific airline for their latest policies. Here’s a full round-up of cancellation policies by airline.

 

If I cancel because of COVID-19 and I purchased a nonrefundable ticket, will I receive a refund or a credit to use in the future?

Most airlines are only offering a credit for tickets bought as nonrefundable. The period during which you can use your credit varies by airline, so check your carrier’s website for the latest information.

If you bought a fully refundable ticket, then you may receive a full refund.

 

What should I expect if I call my airline?

Airline call centers are experiencing high call volumes during this crisis period, so you’ll likely experience long wait times. It could take several hours to speak with an agent.

Airlines are prioritizing calls for passengers flying within 24 to 72 hours, so if you have the flexibility, consider holding off on contacting your carrier until closer to your flight.

 

Can I cancel or change my flight online?

Yes, most airlines have directions on their websites to handle cancellations and changes online, to help counter high call volumes. 

You can find links to those policies here.

 

What information should I have available to cancel or change my ticket?

Whether you plan to call or visit an airline website to cancel or change your ticket, you’ll need the following to help expedite your modifications:

  • Your six-character reservation confirmation code
  • The dates of your travel
  • Your flight numbers 
  • Your origin city
  • And in some cases, you might also need a ticket number. 

 

Do I have to rebook now if I do not want to fly on my current ticket?

Each airline has its own policy. Many are allowing rebooking on future flights up to six months from the cancellation date, but it’s best to check your specific airline’s policies and procedures.

 

What happens if my flight is canceled?

During normal operations, the airline will automatically rebook you on the next available flight. However, you might be able to cancel the reservation and receive a credit or a refund.

Check in with your specific airline’s policy to better understand your options.

 

Should I contact the airline if I booked through a travel agency?

No. If you booked your ticket through a travel agency, you’ll need to contact that travel agency – online or physical — directly. Airline representatives are only able to assist with tickets that were purchased directly through the airline – whether through their telephone call center, a city ticket center, mobile app or their website.

Like airlines, travel advisors and online travel agencies are receiving a high volume of calls, so visit the company’s website first to see if you can cancel or change your ticket online.


How have the airports changed? Should I plan to do things differently?

Many airports have made changes, especially those in states where stay-in-place policies have been implemented. That means restaurants, lounges and shops might not be open or could have reduced hours. Some airports are restricting shuttle traffic as well.

In general, plan for a drastically different experience than you might have previously had. Your best bet to find the latest information on closures or delays is to visit your airport’s website directly. 


Where can I talk to other travelers about the latest in air travel?

Tripadvisor’s Air Travel forums are bustling with conversation about the latest information on policies, in some cases airline by airline.

If you have questions about specific destinations, you can chat with other travelers on Tripadvisor’s individual destination forums.