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How To Handle Existing Travel Plans During COVID-19

5-minute read

The onset of the coronavirus around the world has led to a lot of uncertainty in many areas of our lives. With many things out of our control, we are each doing our best to wade through these strange times.

One aspect of that is adjusting our travel plans accordingly. Although it’s not fun to postpone or cancel a trip, many of us will be forced to do just that in the coming weeks and months.

Today we will share the way to handle your existing travel plans.

Can You Still Travel?

If you’re currently on a trip, the best course of action is to return home as soon as possible. Even if you’re away from home within the U.S., it may still be a good idea to return home.

Since the release of a Level 4 travel advisory by the State Department, more and more flights have been canceled. The advisory warned against all international travel. Although U.S. residents who are currently out of the country can still fly home for now, that may change if the situation progresses.

With that, it is likely that you’ll need to cut your trip short and catch a return flight soon.

How To Cancel Or Change Flights

While it’s easy to cancel a road trip, it can often be more difficult to cancel a flight. Luckily, due to the COVID-19 situation, airlines are being more lenient about their ticket policies.

Here are some details that will help you adjust your specific flight:

American Airlines

American Airlines asks that you not call to reschedule your flight unless you are 72 hours from your original departure date. This will allow you to make a more accurate decision about the need to cancel and your rebooking possibilities.

The company has waived all change fees for the following dates:

  • If you bought your ticket before March 1, 2020 for travel before May 31, 2020, then you can rebook without any change fees.
  • If you booked your trip between March 1 and April 15, 2020, then you can also change your reservation without any change fees.

You’ll have several options when you call to rebook your flight. You can find the latest information on the American Airlines website.

Southwest

In general, Southwest has a forgiving cancellation policy. It’s no surprise that they are especially generous at this time.

If you cancel a flight between now and May 31, 2020, then you’ll receive a “travel fund” credit. With this credit, you’ll be able to book another flight of your choosing. The “travel fund” credit will not expire until June 30, 2021.

Delta Air Lines

Delta has dramatically expanded its typically limited cancellation policies. Here are the two different ways they are helping customers.

  • If you had booked a flight before March 9, 2020, for travel before April 30, 2020, you’ll be able to change it without any fees.
  • If you choose to book a flight between March 1, 2020, and March 31, 2020, then you can change your flight in the future without any fees. The only limitation is that the booked flight must take off before February 28, 2021.

You can see the latest changes to their policy on the Delta website.

Alaska Airlines

Although the Alaska Airlines policy may seem less generous than some of the other airlines, they are still offering several benefits to their customers:

  • If you bought your ticket before February 26, 2020, for travel through March 31, 2020, then you will not have to pay any change or cancellation fees.
  • If you buy tickets between February 27, 2020, and April 30, 2020, you will not need to pay any change or cancellation fees on these flights.

It is possible that this policy will be expanded in the coming days, so check with Alaska Airlines for the latest information.

Hawaiian Airlines

The governor of Hawaii has ordered that any traveler entering Hawaii must undergo a self-quarantine period for 14 days. With that, flights on Hawaiian Airlines have been fairly limited. In fact, there will only be one nonstop flight between Honolulu and Los Angeles each day.

With these restrictions, Hawaiian Airlines has implemented a flexible travel wavier policy. Here are the details:

  • If you purchase a ticket between March and May 2020, then you can make changes without any fees for 1 year of the purchase date.
  • If you bought a ticket before March 1, 2020, for a flight before May 31, 2020, then you can rebook that travel for free before December 31, 2020.

As the situation unfolds, the policy may change. Take a closer look at Hawaiian Airlines policy to find out more.

Frontier Airlines

The Frontier Airlines cancellation policy is somewhat different than other airlines.

If you have to cancel a flight between March 26, 2020, and June 17, 2020, you’ll receive a $50 travel voucher per person. You can use that voucher to book a new flight through December 31, 2020. However, you’ll need to have booked this flight before March 20, 2020.

The airline seems to be adjusting its policy on a regular basis. You can check for the latest on Fly Frontier.

United Airlines

United Airlines has implemented a new flexible travel policy in response to COVID-19.

Here’s what you need to know about canceling your flight: 

  • If you want to reschedule a trip between March 10, 2020, and May 31, 2020, then you can without any fees.
  • If you book a flight between March 3, 2020, and March 31, 2020, then you can change it for free over the next 12 months.

You can check with United directly for the most updated information on their policies.

How To Cancel Or Change Your Hotel Reservation

The second piece of your travel cancellations will be your hotel reservations. As you adjust your flights, reschedule your hotel reservations accordingly.

Let’s take a closer look at a few of the policies offered by popular hotel chains:

Airbnb

Airbnb is possibly my favorite way to travel. With their recent announcement for flexible travel plans, they remain in my top spot for lodging while on the road.

If you made a reservation before March 14, 2020, then you can cancel for free if your reservation starts before April 14, 2020. One caveat is that new bookings do not qualify.

Check with their official policy to stay informed of any changes.

IHG Hotels

IHG hotels include brands such as The Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites, and more. The company has announced that it will waive all cancellation fees for any existing or new reservations for stays between March 9, 2020, and April 30, 2020.

Hyatt

Hyatt has instituted a comprehensive cancellation policy. Here are the details you’ll need to know:

  • If you booked before March 13, 2020, for travel until April 30, 2020, then you can change it without a fee up to 24 hours before check-in
  • If you make a reservation after March 13, 2020, then you can change the details of that stay without a fee if you call 24 hours before check-in.
  • Finally, you’ll have the option for a cash refund or 10,000 Hyatt points. Your eligibility for these options will depend on your type of reservation.

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriot has offered an extremely broad cancellation policy that encompasses all existing and new bookings. You can change or cancel the stay without any fees. As long as you make the changes 24 hours before check-in, you’ll be able to cancel without any penalties.

Hop Online First, Then Call

With so many travelers affected by these tumultuous times, the call wait times are extremely long. Instead of waiting hours for an agent to help you, check out the website. You may be able to change or cancel your plans without the help of an agent. Not only will you save yourself time, but also free up the phone lines for people who are having trouble canceling online.

The Bottom Line

The good news is that most companies are being very flexible with their cancellation policies. Use that opportunity to change your plans without a large financial repercussion.

As we navigate these uncertain times together, take a look at our COVID-19 resource guide. The guide can offer practical solutions for your life amid the chaos of this unnerving situation.

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