List of airline change and cancellation policies due to coronavirus
Last updated: December 2021
COVID-19 has left a lasting impression on many industries and the aviation industry is no exception. In fact, it was one of the hardest hit and one of the fastest-acting in terms of policy changes.
With over 20 airlines suspending their operations by 100% worldwide, airlines were forced to re-evaluate their approach to their change and cancellation policies. Some of these changes have remained, whilst others are no longer available—buckle up as we take a look at the updated changes and cancellation policies.
Quick access: list of policies
Following the pandemic, airlines have introduced new policies and packages with flexibility in mind.
We’ve compiled a list of all the current policies in place for a wide variety of airlines to ensure you’re up to date with your rights and related fees.
Before we look into the options currently available to passengers worldwide, let’s take a look at some updated guidance on making bookings post-COVID.
- Aer Lingus
- Air Canada
- Air China
- Air France
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Copa Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Singapore Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- TAP Air Portugal
- United Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
General tips on making flight bookings post-COVID
Book a flexible rate
Many airlines have introduced new flexibility measures—make sure you make the most of them. Basic fares are normally non-refundable, so during this period of uncertainty, it’s important to keep cancellation policies in mind. Paying a higher price for your fare will likely give you better coverage in the case you need to make changes or cancel your flight entirely.
Alternatively, business travellers can add a solution like FlexiPerk to their trips. FlexiPerk allows you to cancel travel at any time, no questions asked. It’s cheaper than standard refundable airline fares, and involves none of the hassle of chasing after a flight refund.
Make changes as soon as possible
It’s important to ensure all changes are made before your scheduled flight time, as most airlines won’t allow changes or refunds after this. Check your rate policy for more details, as different airlines and rates have different policies regarding when you need to cancel or make changes.
Ensure you meet COVID requirements before flying
Don’t get caught out at the airport—ensure you meet all of the requirements to travel both in your country of origin and destination. This depends entirely on each country’s regulations but usually, you’ll need to supply proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test completed within 72 hours of departure.
How do you cancel or change a flight?
Airline coronavirus travel policies
Aer Lingus has waived its itinerary change fees on any changes made before 30 September 2022, given the change is made up to seven days before scheduled departure.
If you need to cancel a booking you’re advised to do so using the Refund Request Form—the refund will depend on the rate you booked.
Air Canada has a COVID-19 Goodwill Period that’s still in effect. If you booked your flight before April 13th 2021, you’re eligible for an Air Canada Travel Voucher.
If you made your booking after this date and you wish to cancel your booking, you need to check the terms of your specific rate.
Air China is now back operating under its standard cancellation policy, which allows for free cancellation if it’s within 24 hours of when the booking was made. Otherwise, you’ll need to check the T&Cs of your ticket and rate.
For more information regarding refunds and cancellations, check out their FAQs.
Air France is allowing free changes to your ticket regardless of the type of ticket purchased. Most rates are also eligible for a full refund, as long as the booking was made before February 1st 2022 and the travel is scheduled for before June 30th 2022.
If your fair doesn’t allow for a refund, you’re eligible for a travel voucher.
Following the pandemic, change and cancellation fees have been permanently eliminated on Main and First Class fares. Saver fares can cancel and change their booking free of charge during the first 24 hours following the booking. Changes made after this time incur a fee.
American Airlines have removed all change fees for domestic, short-haul international, and select long-haul international flying on Premium Cabin, Premium Economy, and Main Cabin fares.
Saver rates are non-refundable and non-changeable, unless the booking was made between March 1st 2020 and March 31st 2021. Tickets bought during that period are eligible for free changes and cancellation.
Bookings made after March 30th 2020 for travel completed by August 31st 2022 are eligible for a travel voucher. Travel vouchers are valid until September 30th 2023.
Changes can also be made free of charge during this period, however, you’re advised to get in touch with British Airways. They encourage you not to change your booking online, they’ll handle it for you.
Cathay Pacific offers free changes and refunds—on most rates—given the request is made within 24 hours of making the booking and earlier than seven days before your scheduled flight time.
Changes and cancellations outside of this window will incur a fee.
Copa Airline offers free cancellation on some tickets, check the website for the full list of T&Cs. Otherwise, you can reschedule your ticket for travel up until March 31st 2022.
Changes to Main Cabin booking or above can be made free of charge. Tickets can be canceled and exchanged for eCredit, which needs to be used within a year of receipt.
Economy tickets are subject to Delta’s Basic Economy Changeability Waiver.
Easyjet is allowing free changes to bookings up to 2 hours before the flight departure. Cancellations made within 24 hours of making the booking will receive a full refund minus the cancellation fee, which is £30.
All flight bookings made up to and including March 31st can be changed for free or canceled in exchange for a travel voucher.
Emirates has different conditions depending on when you booked, as long as your scheduled travel is before May 31st 2022:
- Bookings made before March 31st 2021: Your ticket will be accepted for any flight to the same destination or within the same region in the same travel class, with no extra fees during a 36 month period.
- Bookings made before October 11th 2021: Your ticket will be accepted for any flight to the same destination or within the same region in the same travel class within the same cabin with no extra fees during a 24 month period.
- Booking made after October 12th 2021: Your ticket will be accepted for any flight to the same destination in the same booking class within the same cabin with no extra fees during a 24 month period.
For more information regarding changes and cancellations, check out their ticket options page.
Etihad allows free cancellation if the booking is canceled within 24 hours of making the reservation. All other changes and cancellations can be made up to two hours before the flight, with fees being dependent on the conditions of the original rate purchased.
Flights booked before March 31st 2021 have had all change and cancellation fees waived.
Changes and cancellations on all flights can be made free of charge up to 60 days before the flight. Depending on when you booked, changes and cancellations made between 59 and 7 days prior to the flight are subject to the following conditions:
- Bookings made between April 1st 2021 and July 26th 2021 inclusive incur a change and cancellation fee of $39.
- Bookings made after July 26th 2021 incur a change and cancellation fee of $49.
Changes and cancellations made within 7 days of the flight will be charged at $59 and $79 respectively.
Hawaiian Airlines bookings will not be charged a cancellation fee and the unused value of the ticket may be applied towards the purchase of a new ticket until the ticket expires.
Tickets purchased between March 1st 2020 and December 31st 2020 are valid for two years from the original ticket purchase date. Tickets purchased on or after January 1st 2021 are valid for one year from the original ticket purchase date.
For more information check out their website.
Flight dates on tickets booked before March 11th for travel between March 1st and April 30th can be changed for free, or exchanged for a voucher.
For changes, flights must travel before March 31st, 2021. Vouchers are valid until March 31st, 2021 for any date or destination.
Iberia allows free changes and cancellations if:
- Your destination imposes new entry restrictions
- Lockdown or quarantine measures imposed at your destination that cannot be avoided with a negative COVID test
- Lockdown or quarantine in your place of origin (including if someone in your household tests positive)
- You test positive for COVID
- Your vaccination appointment coincides with your flight time
Cancellations will receive a flight voucher to be used within 14 months. For more information head over to their COVID cancellation page.
There are no fees for changes or cancellations on all fares except Blue Basic. Blue Basic fares ticketed after November 1st 2021 are subject to a $100 cancellation fee within the US, Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America. The fee is $200 for all other routes.
KLM recommends you check your flights’ rebook and refund policy as they’re offering a number of solutions. You can do this by checking your flight details here.
Lufthansa is allowing customers to change or cancel their flights given you do so 24 hours before your flight. Refunds are subject to your individual fare conditions, which you can find in your booking confirmation under the item ‘Fare Conditions.’
People with travel dates up until May 31st can cancel their flight in exchange for a flight credit. Cancelations must be processed by March 31st. Rebooking fees are also waived.
Qantas has only recently resumed its flights, with some routes still unavailable. Head over to their Cancelation Rules and Fees page to find the policy that applies to you.
Travelers can rebook dates on all new and existing bookings scheduled for travel from now until September 30th. Flights within the same time period can also be canceled and exchanged for a future travel voucher, which is valid for one year. Cancelations have to be made at least three days before departure.
Qatar Airways are offering guaranteed flexibility for travel completed by 31 May 2022, subject to the T&Cs. They offer the following solutions:
- Extended ticket validity for up to two years from the date of issue
- Unlimited changes with no fees
- Ticket refunds with no fees
- Ticket exchange for a travel voucher worth 10% more than the flight fare
If you booked your flight before October 1st 2021, you’re eligible for free flight changes given the flight takes place during 2021. If your booking was made after October 1st 2021, you’ll need to pay a €35 fee. If you make changes within 24 hours of making the booking, you won’t be charged.
Ryanair fares are non-refundable if the flight is operational.
Southwest does not charge fees to change or cancel flights, although applicable fare differences may apply. This was the case before COVID, their policy is one of the most forgiving on our list.
Flights departing after March 31st 2021 with a travel date before June 30th 2022 are entitled to unlimited free changes before December 31st 2021. After this date, you’re entitled to one complimentary change.
Cancellations are subject to the fare type, with some being refundable and others non-refundable. Check your fare policy for more details.
Spirit Airlines allows free changes and cancellations if they’re made 60+ days before departure. If not, the following charges apply:
TAP Air Portugal
TAP Air Portugal is offering one free change on all tickets issued before September 30th 2021, and a free change for all main fares and above issued before December 31st 2021. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to cancel, you’re eligible for a voucher worth 10% more than the original fare. Take a look at the details here.
United Airlines allow free changes and cancellations to booking given they’re made within 24 hours of the booking. Basic Economy tickets are non-changeable, but a full refund is allowed given it’s canceled within 24 hours of making the booking.
Most fares are non-refundable after the 24 hour grace period, however, changes and cancellations can be made in the My Trip area if applicable.
All flights booked with Virgin Atlantic on or after 3rd March 2021, for departure up to April 30th 2022, are eligible for free, unlimited changes. The new travel must take place before April 30th 2023. For more info regarding changing your flight, check out their Flexibility Policy.
Refunds for cancellation depend on the fare you purchased. There’s a 24 hour grace period for canceling your booking, after this, you’ll be charged a fee. Take a look at their refund policy here.
Vueling now offers free changes and cancellations up to 48 hours before flight departure, unless you’ve booked a Basic fare. If you’ve purchased a Basic fare and not added their new Flex Pack service, flight changes incur a fee of €50. Cancelations receive Flight Credit, not a refund.
There’s a 25 hour grace period for all bookings, in which you can make changes and cancellations free of charge. For more information on Vueling’s changes and cancellation policy—including their Flex Rate—head over to the website.
Whilst many airlines have reverted to their pre-COVID changes and cancellation policy, some have decided to implement more flexible policies as standard. It’s essential to check which policy applies to your fare when booking, as most airlines have multiple changes and cancellation policies.
To find out more about booking travel in a post-COVID world, take a look at our up-to-date e-book on managing travel post-COVID. We hope your upcoming travel isn’t affected by COVID, but if that’s the case—we’ve got your back.