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Airlines

Have to Cancel or Change a Flight? Here’s What You’ll Get From Most Major Airlines

Have to Cancel or Change a Flight? Here’s What You’ll Get From Most Major Airlines
Taylor Rains

The coronavirus has forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights, but there does not appear to be any consistent strategy in regards to rebookings and refunds. Fortunately, a spreadsheet has been published with airline reimbursement and change policies. This is not an exhaustive list, but it breaks down the policies for major airlines around the world.

Note: In most cases of rebooking, any fare difference must be paid, and most refund policies only apply to non-refundable tickets (meaning most airlines are still honoring refunds for customers who bought refundable fares).

North/Central America

  • Aeromexico
    • Free changes allowed for bookings made through March 31.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Alaska Airlines
    • Free flight changes for flights booked before February 26 for travel through May 31, and for flights booked between February 27 and April 30 for any travel date. Flights must be taken by February 28, 2021.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • American Airlines
    • Free flight changes for flights booked by March 1 for travel through May 31, and flights booked between March 1 and April 15 for any future flight.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Air Canada
    • For flights booked by March 31, customers can rebook for free. Flights must be taken by March 31, 2021.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Copa Airlines
    • Free changes for bookings made by March 31 for travel through June 15. Must fly by December 31, 2020.
    • No information on refunds.
  • Delta Airlines
    • For flights booked between March 1 and April 15, travel can be rebooked for free for up to a year from the purchase date. Must fly by March 12, 2021.
    • If Delta cancels your flight, a full refund is granted, otherwise, only eCredit is offered.
  • Hawaiian Airlines
    • One time fee-free rebooking for flights purchased by May 31.
    • If you cancel your flight, you will receive a waiver worth the full fare.
  • JetBlue
    • Free changes for bookings made by March 31 for flights through May 31. New flight must be flown by October 24, 2020.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Southwest Airlines
    • Fee-free rebooking for travel 60 days after the original date of travel.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • United Airlines
    • No change fees for flights operating through May 31. Must rebook by December 31, 2020, and must fly within 12 months of the original departure date.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • WestJet
    • Fee waived for flights booked before March 3 for travel in March and April.
    • Refunds offered in the form of vouchers when flight canceled by customer. No information on refunds for flights canceled by the airline.

Europe

  • Aegean
    • Unlimited free changes for flights booked by April 30. One free change for bookings made on May 1 and beyond. Must travel by October 20, 2020.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Aer Lingus
    • Fee-free changes for flights booked through May 31.
    • Cash refund offered, or a voucher worth 110% of the fare.
  • Aeroflot
    • Free changes allowed for flights booked through May 31. Must fly by December 31, 2020.
    • Full refunds offered for canceled flights.
  • AirBaltic
    • Fee-free changes for flights booked by March 31. Must travel by December 31, 2020.
    • For any flight canceled through April 14, customers can request a voucher or a full refund. According to AirBaltic, vouchers are more valuable than money back.
  • Air France
    • Fee-free changes for flights departing before May 31. Must rebook by September 30 and travel by November 30, 2020.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Alitalia
    • Fee-free changes for flights booked by April 3 for travel through May 31. Must travel by December 31, 2020.
    • Full refunds offered for canceled flights.
  • British Airways
    • Free rebooking for flights booked by May 31. New flight must be flown by May 31, 2021.
    • For flights canceled by the airline, customers can receive a cash refund over the phone, otherwise, a voucher can be obtained online.
  • Croatia Airlines
    • One fee-free change allowed for flights booked by March 31 for travel through May 31. Must fly by December 31, 2020.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • CSA Czech Airlines
    • For flights booked by March 31 with a travel date on or before June 30, there is a one-time free rebooking allowed.
    • No information on refunds.
  • Finnair
    • One fee-free change for flights booked through April 30. New flights must be flown by November 20, 2020.
    • Refunds offered for canceled flights.
  • Iberia
    • For flights booked by March 11 for travel between March 1 and April 30, there is a one-time free change allowed.
    • For bookings between March 1 and May 31, customers can request a voucher for the full fare online. Customers can contact the airline by phone to request a cash refund.
  • Icelandair
    • Free flight changes for bookings made before March 3 for travel before May 1. Must fly by January 1, 2021.
    • Refunds offered in the form of vouchers only for bookings made prior to March 3, 2020.
  • KLM
    • For flights scheduled through May 31, customers can change their flight free of charge. Must change flight by September 30, 2020.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • LOT Polish Airlines
    • For flights booked by March 13 for travel between March 15 and March 28, and for flights booked by March 24 for travel between March 29-April 11, fee-free are changes allowed. Must rebook by August 31.
    • Full refunds being offered for canceled flights.
  • Lufthansa Group (Swiss, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, and Eurowings)
    • Fee-free change for flights booked by March 31. Must rebook by August 31 and fly by December 31, 2020. 50€ credit voucher offered for rebooking.
    • The website states, “We are currently unable to process any kind of refund on any channel,” but is encouraging customers to keep their tickets and rebook.
  • Norwegian
    • One fee-free change for flights booked by March 31. Must fly by November 30, 2020.
    • Full refunds for canceled flights, or a voucher worth 120% of the fare.
  • SAS
    • One fee-free change for new bookings made from March 5 to March 31, and existing bookings made before March 12 for travel through April 30, 2020. Must rebook by November 30, 2020, and travel by February 28, 2021.
    • Full refunds offered for canceled flights, otherwise, a voucher is offered for operating flights.
  • TAP Portugal
    • Free flight changes for bookings through May 31. Must fly by December 31, 2020.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Ukraine International Airlines
    • One-time fee-free change permitted.
    • Full refund for canceled flights, or a 125% voucher.
  • Virgin Atlantic
    • Free flight changes until June 30 for flights booked by March 31. Must travel by April 30, 2021.
    • Option to keep ticket dates open for future travel.
  • Vueling
    • Free flight changes for bookings through April 30. Must fly by March 27, 2021.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.

Asia

  • AirAsia
    • Free changes for bookings made by March 22 for travel through May 31. Must fly by October 31, 2020.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Air India
    • Free changes for flights booked by March 31 for flights through April 30. Must rebook by September 30 and fly by December 31, 2020.
    • No information on refunds.
  • All Nippon Airways
    • Free changes subject to various route and date restrictions. Must fly by June 30, 2020.
    • Full refunds offered depending on the route.
  • Asiana Airlines
    • One-time free change for flights booked between March 10 and April 30.
    • Full refunds offered for canceled flights.
  • Cathay Pacific
    • Free flight changes for bookings made by March 23 for travel through May 31. Must fly by December 10, 2020.
    • Free flight changes for bookings made between March 9 and April 20 for travel through February 28, 2021. Must fly by February 28, 2021.
    • No information on refunds.
  • China Airlines
    • Free flight changes until April 30.
    • Full refunds offered for canceled flights.
  • EVA Air
    • Free rebooking for flights through April 30.
    • Full refunds offered for canceled flights.
  • Hainan
    • Free one-time change for flights operated on Hainan.
    • No information on refunds.
  • IndiGo
    • Rebook for free for bookings made through March 31.
    • Full refunds offered for canceled flights and flights rescheduled by 1 hour or more.
  • Japan Airlines
    • Free rebooking for flights through April 30.
    • Full refunds offered for canceled flights.
  • Korean Air
    • Free rebooking for flights through April 30.
    • No information on refunds.
  • Malaysian Airlines
    • Unlimited free changes for flights booked by March 31. Must rebook by June 30 and fly by December 31, 2020.
    • Full refunds offered for canceled flights.
  • Philippines Airlines
    • Free changes for bookings made through March 31.
    • Full refunds offered for canceled flights through April 30.
  • Singapore Airlines
    • Change fees waived for flights booked through May 31.
    • No information on refunds.
  • SpiceJet
    • Free changes for flights through March 31. Must fly by April 30.
    • Full refunds offered for canceled flights.
  • Thai Airways
    • Free changes for flights through April 30. Must rebook by December 15, 2020.
    • No information on refunds.
  • Turkish Airlines
    • One fee-free change for flights booked through March 20. Must fly by December 31, 2020.
    • No information on refunds.
  • Vietnam Airlines
    • Free flight changes for bookings made by March 24. Must fly by December 31, 2020.
    • No information on refunds.

Middle East

  • El Al
    • One free change allowed for flights booked through March 31. Must fly by December 31, 2020.
    • Full refunds offered for canceled flights according to the ticket terms and conditions.
  • Emirates
    • Free changes allowed for flights booked through March 31.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Etihad
    • Free flight changes for bookings made through June 30. Must rebook by September 30 and fly by December 31, 2020.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Gulf Air
    • Unlimited free flight changes.
    • Full refund for flight cancellations if the alternative flight is more than 24 hours after or before.
  • Oman Air
    • Two free flight changes for bookings made through May 31. Must fly by October 31, 2020.
    • No information on refunds.
  • Qatar
    • Free changes 72 hours in advance of flights through June 30. Fly by September 30, 2020.
    • Full refunds being offered, or a 110% voucher.
  • Royal Jordanian
    • Free flight changes for bookings made between March 16 and April 13 for travel between April 13 and May 20.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Saudia
    • Free flight changes for bookings made before March 4 for travel between March 4 and April 15.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.

Africa

  • Air Mauritius
    • Fee-free flight changes for bookings through April 30. Must fly by June 30.
    • Full refunds offered based on terms of ticket, or customers can opt for airline credit equal to the airfare.
  • Ethiopian
    • Free flight changes for bookings through June 30. Must fly by December 31, 2020.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Kenya Airways
    • Fee-free flight changes for bookings made before March 31 for travel through June 30.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • South African Airways
    • Free changes for flights operating through May 31.
    • Customers may apply for a refund for flights canceled by SAA as long as there is no alternative flight available, otherwise, airline credit is offered.
  • SriLankan Airlines
    • Free flight changes for bookings made on or before March 31.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.

South America

  • Aerolineas Argentinas
    • Flight changes permitted without penalty.
    • Full refunds offered in all cases.
  • GOL
    • Free changes for flights through September 30. Must fly within 330 days of the original departure date.
    • Refund offered as the fare in the form of a voucher, or cash refund subject to fare rules.
  • LATAM
    • Free flight changes for flights operating through March 31. Flexibility to change flight by December 31, 2020.
    • Fare refunds offered in the form of vouchers. Cash refund for taxes and fees.

Oceania

  • Air New Zealand
    • One fee-free change allowed through June 30.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Fiji Airways
    • Fee-free changes allowed through June 30.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
  • Qantas
    • Free changes for flights through May 31.
    • Refunds only offered in the form of vouchers.
View Comments (8)

8 Comments

  1. OZFLYER86

    March 26, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    no airline should be refunding any fares. Any that do, might be the 1st to go broke.

  2. CaptainMiles

    March 27, 2020 at 4:57 am

    Ski Lanka in now in Africa! Did I miss some major tectonic plate movement?

  3. welltravelled88

    March 27, 2020 at 5:05 am

    Sadly I need three refunds, all of which escape the logic of what most airlines are offering. Or some agents are just confused.

    1) I have a TAP ticket which is fully refundable (less a small admin fee) as per its fare rules. TAP says I can only get a voucher. If the fare rules allow for a full refund, shouldn’t the fare rules take priority over virus-related exceptions ?!

    2) I have a SAA ticket for which the flight was cancelled. They said I can rebook later or get a voucher (contrary to what it says above). Makes no sense — I queried it with my credit card.

    3) I have an Ethiopian ticket where I used the outbound but not the return (ie they left me stranded). They say there is no refund of any sort as the one-way was more expensive than the return, but I can use the return later without a change fee (doesn’t work for me — I won’t go back to Africa just to use the return !). I am sure they still owe me something. Querying with credit card and also making an insurance claim.

    Every case is different I guess…

  4. Lexicycle

    March 27, 2020 at 5:25 am

    Has anyone had a problem with Qatar airways for receiving exchange voucher? I am Qatar gold member and accepted the offer of cancellation of my Kuala Lumpor business class flight March 25th departure which I did on 16th. March.
    I had confirmation that my refund or exchange voucher would be confirmed in twelve hours by e mail.
    To date I have received nothing despite e mailing them twice!
    Qatar has a communication problem that is fast becoming like British airways.

  5. tk03526

    March 27, 2020 at 7:09 am

    The article should read “ What they offer you”. At least as far as the european airlines concern, they are breaking EU law. Customers who want to opt for a refund instead of a voucher can deny the latter and should fight for getting their money back. The changes are very good in this respect as EU law is very clear on this. Those who have paid with their American Express card shouldn’t have any problems to get it back via a dispute case. In case AMEX doesn’t provide support, get rid of the card as those days, expensive credit cards are no longer worth the money.

  6. Hanalei

    March 27, 2020 at 7:10 am

    Hello,
    I want to get confirmation here. For United Airlines you said: “Must rebook by December 31, 2020, and must fly within 12 months of the original departure date.” When I go to united.com, their page said you must travel within 12 months from original ticket issue date, which is a really short window.

    I booked my flight last Sept for May 2020 travel date. Based on what United said then I have to travel by Sept 2020.

  7. headpin

    March 27, 2020 at 8:51 am

    Any flight cancelled by an EU airline is subject to EU Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. This gives the customer the option to request a refund.

    Some of the options offered by EU airlines as outlined above are just there way of trying to protect their revenue. However, that choice is not theirs.

    If you prefer a refund than a change of dates, vouchers, etc then ask and persist.

  8. Efrem

    March 27, 2020 at 9:28 am

    If your airline offers refunds only in the form of vouchers, which have expiration dates and may have other strings attached, wait until closer to flight time to request one. Airlines are still cancelling flights. If yours is cancelled, you are entitled to a cash refund. If it doesn’t, the offer of a voucher refund isn’t going to go away.

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