These Airlines Will Let You Change Your Flight For Free Because of Coronavirus
On Tuesday I’m supposed to be flying to the Maldives. I say “supposed to” because on Friday I found out that my flight to the country had been canceled by the airline, thanks to the two-hour layover I was going to have in South Korea, currently one of the areas heavily impacted by COVID-19 aka the coronavirus.
My story is certainly not a unique one. Airplanes, which are already a great place to catch a cold from my experience, aren’t exactly the first place many of us want to be during an approaching pandemic. Even my flights last week, all domestic in the US, were noticeably lighter than usual.
While initially, airlines were only being lenient with canceling and changing flights to and from heavily impacted areas, such as my South Korean journey, now many are also allowing passengers to change flights that are happening in the US as well, over coronavirus concerns.
If you have a flight coming up in the next few weeks that you’re starting to get nervous about, here’s a rundown on what each airline’s policy on changes and cancellations currently is. Also, keep in mind that when an airline waives a change fee, it’s waiving the additional charge you would traditionally have had to pay to change that ticket, you’re still going to be responsible for the change in the cost of airfare between your old and new ticket, so it’s in your best interest to make a change earlier rather than later.
I’ve linked to the coronavirus information page under each airline. While this information below is current right this second while I’m writing this, COVID-19 is definitely an ongoing and growing issue, so some of this is definitely subject to change and many of these waiver programs are likely to expand.
If you have a flight on Alaska happening between now and March 12th, the airline is waiving change and cancellation fees. Alaska is calling it a “peace of mind” waiver, and if you decide to cancel entirely you’ll be given a credit to use to rebook your flight (or another one) anytime over the next year. The deal also applies to the airline’s Saver fares, which traditionally don’t allow for any changes or cancellations.
Alaska is also making a number of changes to how it handles in-flight service and cleaning the aircraft between flights. You can read about those here.
Anyone who has travel plans between now and March 15th to Italy can change or cancel their flight for free. The opportunity is only available once, so if you have a flight this week and reschedule it for next week, you won’t be able to cancel that second flight if you change your mind. Your new travel must be booked by March 15th and must be completed within one year of your original travel dates.
For flights to China, Hong Kong, and South Korea, American Airlines is extending that cancellation window until March 31 for the Wuhan area, and April 24 for other locations.
Delta is offering one-time changes for customers that have flights to Italy, China, or South Korea booked on the airline. Italy flights need to be scheduled to happen before March 15 and your new flight needs to happen before April 3. For China and South Korea, flights need to be scheduled to happen before April 30 and your new travel must begin before May 31. Canceled flights will result in a travel credit good for one year from the date of your original flight.
JetBlue has one of the more lenient offerings of the bunch. It’s waiving change and cancellation fees for travel that’s scheduled to happen between now and March 11. If you do change your flight, your new one needs to happen before June 1, 2020. The opportunity is also available for flights booked through JetBlue Basic, which is traditionally not eligible for changes or cancelations. JetBlue is also waiving fees for changes to flights booked through JetBlue Vacations.
United is offering to waive change fees one time for flights between now and April 30 traveling to Italy and China, and June 30th for South Korea.
The airline is also suspending some service to Tokyo Narita, Osaka, Singapore, and Seoul