Canceled or to Cancel flights…
It’s already May, and summer-the peak season when everyone has likely planned a big vacation-is looming into view. But that long-haul trip to Europe, booked and paid for six months ago? Now, getting there seems rather uncertain. (Most flights for May are cancelled)
As with most situations surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, there are a lot of questions when it comes to changing future flight plans. Should you cancel proactively right now, instead of waiting to see what the airline does? And if you do cancel, are you entitled to a refund-or should you consider rebooking, say for summer 2021?
Those of you who book with me know you are protected from all the details. Most of you who cannot or are not traveling this spring and summer have been refunded or will follow the tickets numbers for reuse. Those who do your own thing, here are a few helpful tips.
Confusion and concern in this scenario are both understandable-the situation is unprecedented. While everyone’s financial needs and future are unique, there are some things you should take into account when deciding whether to cancel or rebook your upcoming flight.
Airlines are waiving flight cancellation and change fees
Before the pandemic was declared, policies on flight cancellations varied according to the type of ticket you purchased. In general, though, they were unforgiving, with the notable exception of Southwest, which charged nothing for changes or cancellations while the other airlines levied fees of up to $250. The good news right now is that every airline has essentially waived such restrictions and penalties, making it easier to amend your vacation plans as needed.
It’s easy to get a voucher
As part of their new rebooking policies, airlines are handing out vouchers for the value of the full fare, but they vary as to when they must be used.
Once you receive that voucher, you can bank it-remember you have a year or more to spend it, depending on the airline-or you can choose to redeem it straight away to rebook for a later date. Flight prices should decrease on average through 2021 which means that the value of that voucher is greater than ever. Spend it smartly, and you could end up with two trips for the price of one.
But the airline might owe you a cash refund
Sometimes it pays to be patient, so don’t race to cancel your flight just yet. If you want to get your money back from this trip, the best approach is to wait and see, at least until a week or so before you’re due to depart.
While some flights are still scheduled to operate, it’s possible that a flight could be canceled in the next few weeks, perhaps due to changes in government travel restrictions, or even at the last moment. When it is the carrier, rather than the passenger, who cancels a ticket, you are entitled to a full refund in your original method of payment by law. I have also refunded tickets when there is a significant schedule change. Check with the carrier.
How to change or cancel a flight
If you booked directly through the airline, canceling online is the most straightforward option: log into your booking at the airline’s own website, and look for a button that says change, cancel, or modify your trip. Follow the prompts and you’ll be issued with an electronic voucher. Be sure to note down the expiration date, ticket number, and rebooking details.
Edited from Condé Nast Traveler