SINGAPORE - Airlines are cutting services, abandoning flying altogether in many cases, leaving stranded passengers holding tickets with nowhere to go and the dilemma of how to rebook or obtain a refund.
Airline policies vary and the Travel Industry Club in Australia advises most carriers are offering credits – all taken on a case by case basis.
TIC is telling clients, “If you are thinking of cancelling, our advice is to wait until the supplier announces the cancellation of their services. If they do, you will get a much better result than if you cancel beforehand.”
Here’s a list of what airlines are doing to help customers whose flights have been cancelled, and to assist those who need to cancel due to travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
Air Asia is temporarily “hibernating” most of its fleet across its network in Asia. Travellers with bookings on or before March 22, 2020 with departures through to May 31, 2020 have the option to convert their flight booking into a credit account that is valid for flights for one year or shifting their flights for an unlimited number times without any charges to another date prior to October 31, 2020.
ANA is selectively offering travellers with international flight bookings a refund on their fares and waiving cancellation fees. Eligible tickets include flights to and from Japan, China, South Korea, Italy, India, Thailand to Japan and Taiwan to Japan.
Cathay says travellers are eligible for refunds on flight bookings made on or before March 23, 2020 and waivers on cancellation and no-show fees. Travellers can also choose to rebook or reroute flights for travel on or before December 10. Free and unlimited changes will be applicable to bookings made between March 9, 2020 to April 20, 2020.
Customers with tickets issued on/before March 31 who are impacted by travel bans, travel advisories, quarantine requirements, mandatory lockdowns and flight cancellations are eligible for rebooking and travel voucher options:
Travel voucher for ticket value have a validity of 12 months from date of issue. Customers with flight bookings for travel on or before June 30,2020 can rebook their flights to any Emirates destination within the same region without a rebooking fee or paying any fare difference.
For flights before June 30 Etihad Credit lets customers who booked directly with the airline to cancel their booking and use the value as credit towards their next trip. Etihad Guest members will receive up to 5,000 bonus miles. Book before September 30, 2020, for travel by April 30, 2021. Standard booking rules apply.
Finnair offers a Finnair Gift Voucher as a refund option and an added 10% from the original amount. The voucher can be redeemed for Finnair flights via the airline’s website or Customer Care. The voucher is valid for 12 months. Those who don’t have future travels in mind, can also give the voucher to someone else as it isn’t personal.
Finnair will allow travel credit vouchers to passed on to a family member or a friend.
JAL has announced it will allow change and refunds on all tickets to or from Japan (including domestic tickets) with departure dates from February 28, 2020 to April 30, 2020, but it will not be processing refunds on the ticketing service fee. Travellers are also being offered the option to change their departure date once on or before June 30, 2020.
Customers holding a ticket for a cancelled or an existing Lufthansa Group flight, can keep the ticket without having to commit to a new flight date right away. Existing bookings will initially be cancelled, but the ticket and ticket value will remain unchanged and can be extended to a new departure date up to and including December 31, 2020. Customers can also rebook to another destination. The new flight must be booked until August 31, 2020.
Lufthansa also offers every rebooked ticket a discount of 50 euros on the ticket price. Should the rebooked fare be more expensive due to a change of destination, change of class of travel or similar, an additional payment may be necessary despite the discount.
Malaysia Airlines is enabling travellers who wish to rebook flight tickets issued on or before March 31 unlimited changes to their date of travel as well as the option for change of destination (fare differences apply). Rebooked flights must be completed by December 31, 2020. Normal terms will apply to refunds on tickets.
Malaysia Airlines is offering unlimited changes to date of travel.
Anyone holding a Qantas ticket for travel before July 31, 2020 can get a flight credit and retain the full value of their booking. This needs to be done by April 30, 2020. The flight credit is valid for booking and travel by December 31, 2021. This gives customers more than 18 months to plan, rebook and travel.
Those who already have a Qantas flight credit issued on or after January 31, 2020, will have the credit e automatically extended. No change fees apply when rebooking but the flight credit can only be used towards a fare of equal or higher value than the original fare purchased.
Qatar Airways has amended its ‘Travel with Confidence’ and flight disruption policies. Customers who choose to receive a travel voucher for future use will receive the full unutilised value of their ticket plus an additional 10% of the fare cost as an added value offer.
Customers also have the option for a refund back to the form of payment they used when purchasing their tickets.
Royal Brunei Airlines
Royal Brunei has retained flights operations only to Singapore, Melbourne, Hong Kong and Manila through to April 30, 2020, with all other flights ceased for March and April. Travellers will be offered waivers on rebooking fees for tickets issued up to May 31, 2020 or retain the total value of their fare in travel credit for one year to book new flights.
Singapore Airlines has cut 96% of schedule flights till end-April and grounding 138 of its fleet of 147 planes. SIA has eased its policy on rebooking, applicable to travellers with tickets issued on or before March 15, 2020 with travel dates up till May31, 2020. It is offering travellers the option to retain the ticket value with extended validity, rebooking travel at a later date and waived rebooking fees. Rebooked travel itinerary must be completed by March 31, 2021, fare differences will apply.
THAI has temporarily cancelled all flights in Asia Pacific (with the exception of Cambodia) starting Wednesday (March 25) and will suspend all Europe routes from April 1, 2020. Passengers with Thai and Thai Smile tickets issued before March 25, 2020 can convert unused tickets to travel vouchers, valid for one year, without fees and surcharges. Rebooked flights must be completed on or before December 15, 2020.
For new and existing bookings for travel between March 15 and June 30, 2020, customers can change their flight to a later date and/or to a different destination, without incurring a change fee. Guests will still be required to pay any fare difference or applicable taxes should the same booking class/fare not be available on the date they wish to rebook.
*Information accurate as of March 27, 2020, 12 noon (SGT).