Let’s be real, things are a little crazy right now. The COVID-19 situation is a day-by-day, constantly evolving global situation. That makes it difficult to predict what it will be like tomorrow, in a week, and especially over the next few months.
Being prepared is your best bet, so I compiled as much relevant information as I could. This guide will help you be prepared to address your travel plans over the next few weeks. There will be important information about current airline and hotel policies, as well as relevant contact information.
We know that this is a tough time for everyone. This is not meant to provide you with any public health opinion, or tell you if you should or shouldn’t travel. Instead, we want you to make an informed decision and have all the relevant information that you need to make any changes to your travel as needed.
If you are looking for more information about COVID-19, what it is, and how it is impacting people check out our article co-written with Dr. Olivia Carter-Pokras. She’s way smarter than any of us on the 10xTravel team when it comes to public health, so definitely take a look at what she has to say.
If you want to see how others are handling the situation, head over to our 10xTravel Insiders Facebook community. We’ve got a mega-thread going on where you can ask questions and see how other 10xTravel members are responding to the situation.
With that, let’s get to the meat of what’s going on and what you need to know to be ready to respond.
In This Article
First and foremost, your travel plans are a personal decision. It is personal to decide where to go, when to go, and if you should go. That’s why we are not recommending one way or another about cancelling your plans or not.
What we do recommend is making an informed decision. Just like you shouldn’t open a Delta card if you’re under 5/24, you should do your research before deciding what to do. What does this look like?
Start by consulting with your health care professional. They’ll be knowledgeable about your medical history and be able to advise what the best plan of action is based on your health.
Then, consult with your employer. What policies do they have in place? What will happen if you end up traveling to a country that requires a 14-day (or more) quarantine upon return? Keep in mind, quarantines may not be in place now, but may be imposed while you’re on your trip.
Finally, consult with your family and any travel partners going on a trip with you. It is a personal decision about whether to still go on a trip or not, and you need to do what is best for you and your family. See what works best for you, and make the decision that you need to make.
If you do decide to cancel or postpone any travel, you should always start with the airlines, hotels, or third parties that you have booked through. They are all treating the situation differently. Be prepared for long call times. You can also try reaching out on social media via facebook or twitter.
Right now, there is a suspension on foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point 2-weeks prior to their scheduled arrival in the US. What this means is that any foreign national who has been to any of these countries within 14 days of their scheduled arrival to the US will be denied entry into the country. Even if you aren’t a European citizen, you may be subject to the travel ban.
Who does this include? There are a lot of exceptions, and you can find the entire list on the White House website, just go to section 2: scope of suspension and limitation on entry for the full list. Here are the most applicable exceptions to our readers:
- Any lawful permanent resident of the US
- Any spouse of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Any parent or legal guardian of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, so long as the child is unmarried and under the age of 21
- Any sibling of a US Citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided both are unmarried and under the age of 21
- Any child, foster child, or ward of a US Citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Any prospective adoptee seeking to enter the US pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications
- Anyone traveling as a nonimmigrant pursuant to a C-1, D, or C-1/D nonimmigrant visa as a crewmember as air or sea crew
If you do NOT fall under one of these exceptions, and you’re trying to enter the US within 14 days after traveling to an included country, you will be denied entry into the United States. This is effective for any flights that depart to the US after 11:59pm on March 13, 2020 and will continue until terminated by the President.
The ban extends to all 26 countries in the Schengen Area:
This means if you are a US Citizen who has traveled to any of these countries in the past 14 days, or who plans to travel to any of these countries, you will still be permitted to enter the United States.
Rest of the World
Currently, similar travel bans are in place for China (Presidential Proclamation 9984) and Iran (Proclamation on the Suspension of Entry as Immigrants and Nonimmigrants of Certain Additional Persons Who Pose a Risk of Transmitting Coronavirus).
At this time, the State Department has listed China and Iran as a Level 4 travel advisory, and South Korea as a Level 3. Level 4 means the State Department is advising all travelers to not travel to these destinations. A level 3 advisory asks travelers to reconsider their travel at this time.
For the most up-to-date information from the State Department, you can search by country here. Use the search bar on the left where it says “learn about your destination” to find more information.
The CDC has listed all of these countries: China, Iran, Schengen area of Europe, and South Korea as a Level 3 Travel Health Notice, advising travelers to avoid nonessential travel at this time.
For the rest of the world, the State Department announced on March 11th a Global Level 3 Health Advisory, advising all travelers to reconsider all travel around the globe.
Please use these government resources for more detailed information when deciding whether to continue, postpone, or cancel any travel plans you have over the next few weeks.
Should you decide to cancel or postpone travel in the next few weeks, you should be aware of the current policies and contact info for the major airlines in the US. All major US Airlines have issued waivers for change fees, but the limitations vary from airline to airline.
Unless explicitly stated, this only applies to paid bookings. Few airlines have said if they’re waiving redeposit fees for award ticket cancellations.
Please keep in mind that airline call centers are currently swamped. In fact, Delta has even asked that people not contact them until 72 hours from scheduled departure so they can ensure urgent requests are handled.
Let’s take a look at the various policies of individual airlines.
Alaska Airlines is currently offering no change or cancellation fees for tickets purchased on or before February 26, 2020, and for new tickets purchased between February 27th and March 31st 2020. Depending on when you booked your ticket will impact the policy.
For tickets purchased on or before February 26, 2020 for travel March 9, 2020 through March 31, 2020, you can change or cancel your flight prior to departure. If you change, you can change to travel to any date between March 9, 2020 and February 28, 2021.
For tickets purchased between February 27, 2020 and March 31, 2020 for travel February 27, 2020 through February 28, 2021, you can change or cancel your flight prior to departure. If you change, your new travel must take place between February 27, 2020 and February 28, 2021.
For both policies, the type of refund depends on the fare level you booked.
For Saver fares, you may cancel your trip and deposit the funds into your “My Account” wallet.
For nonrefundable First Class, main, or award tickets you may cancel and deposit the funds into My Account wallet or credit card certificate via email. You may also change without fee, but you will be responsible for any fare differences that apply to your new itinerary.
If you booked travel using miles for travel in March 2020, they’ll re-deposit the miles into your Mileage Plan account.
You can read more about their policy and any updates here.
You can contact Alaska Airlines via chat, text at 82008, or call them at 1-800-252-7522.
You can make changes online here.
You can find more contact information here.
American Airlines is offering no change fees if you booked your ticket before March 1, 2020 and are scheduled to travel March 1 – April 30, 2020. You can travel March 1 – December 31, 2020 or within 1 year of the date your ticket was issued, whichever is earlier. You will owe any difference in ticket price when you rebook your trip.
You can also just cancel your trip and call to rebook when you’re ready. The same timeline applies for cancels. You won’t be eligible for a refund, but you’ll effectively receive credit that you can use to rebook later. You’ll need your 13-digit ticket number and your 6-character record locator when you call to rebook.
You are eligible for a full refund if you had travel planned through Italy, South Korea, Hong Kong, China, or Wuhan specifically under the following circumstances.
|Location||Booked By||Travel Dates|
|Italy||February 27, 2020||February 27 – April 24, 2020|
|South Korea||February 24, 2020||February 24 – May 1, 2020|
|Hong Kong||January 28, 2020||January 28 – July 1, 2020|
|China||January 24, 2020||January 24 – October 23, 2020|
|Wuhan||January 23, 2020||January 23-March 31, 2020|
Flights to India are eligible for a waived change fee if you booked your ticket with American Airlines for travel on British Airways by March 10, 2020 for travel between March 11 and April 14, 2020. You can change to March 11 – May 31, 2020 for no fee, but you will be responsible for any difference in ticket price. Alternatively, you can change your trip once for travel within 1 year of the date the ticket was issued.
You can make changes or cancellations online here.
You can contact reservations at 800-433-7300.
If you’re eligible for a refund, you can request a refund here.
For the most up-to-date travel alert information for American Airlines, you can find it here.
Delta is waiving change fees for all tickets purchased March 1, 2020 – March 31, 2020 for travel between March 1, 2020 – February 25, 2021. Your ticket must be reissued before February 28, 2021. Any fare difference will not be waived.
Alternatively, you may cancel your flight and apply any unused value of the ticket towards a new ticket for up to one year from the original issue date.
If you want to cancel your flight, you can do it online here. Click on “modify flight” and select “start flight cancelation.”
For customers who have tickets issued on or before March 9, 2020 for travel March 1, 2020 – April 30, 2020 the same policies apply. The only difference is that your new ticket must be re-issued and your travel must begin by December 31, 2020.
Delta does have some more country-specific policies available as well, but the broad policies encompass these as well. You can find all relevant information here.
You can reach Delta at 800-221-1212, or if you’re a SkyMiles Member you can call at 800-323-2323.
Similarly, United also has a flexible policy. For travel booked before March 2nd for travel between March 9th and April 30th, United is waiving change fees. New tickets need to be issued on or before December 31, 2020 or 12 months from the original ticket date, whichever is earlier.
For all flights booked between March 3 and March 31st, 2020, change fees are waived for the next 12 months. If the fare of the new booking is higher, you’ll be responsible for paying the difference. You will not receive any refund if the new fare is cheaper.
You can also choose to cancel your flight and apply the value of your original ticket to a new ticket without fee for travel up to 12 months after the original ticket issue date.
United has more specific policies for certain destinations, but the broad policy covers these as well. You can find the most recent information on change fees here.
You can make changes online, or call United at 1-800-864-8331.
Southwest is keeping the same policy they always have: you can change or cancel your flight for free, you’ll just pay any applicable fare difference.
You can cancel and make changes online, or by contacting Southwest at 1-800-435-9792.
Frontier is allowing customers to cancel their flight for flight credit that is good for 90 days. Your flight is eligible if you booked before March 10th for travel between March 10th and April 30th. For tickets issued between March 10th and March 31st for travel at any time, you can make a one-time flight change.
To make the change you have to call Frontier at 801-401-9000.
You can find the most up to date information here.
Spirit is allowing customers who cancel due to COVID-19 concerns to receive a reservation credit that is good for 6 months. You can use it for flights, or for any other products offered directly from Spirit.
To receive your reservation credit, fill out the form here.
You can reach Spirit at 1-801-401-2222.
You can find the most up to date information on Spirit’s policy here.
JetBlue’s cancellation policy depends on when you purchased your ticket. Change and cancellation fees are waived for all flights scheduled to travel between March 10th and April 30th if you booked your flight before March 10th. You may change your flight between now and October 24th. If you choose to cancel, the value of your ticket will be issued as a JetBlue Travel Bank credit that is valid for one year from the date of issuance.
For award travel, the standard cancellation or change fee is waived. You will have to pay any change in mileage cost or taxes and fees if you change.
You can avoid long wait times by making changes online here.
If you want to call in, you can reach JetBlue at 1-800-538-2583.
You can find more information about JetBlue’s policy here.
Sun Country already offers no change fees if your travel is more than 60 days out. However, given the COVID-19 circumstances, Sun Country is waiving change fees for all travel through April 15th.
To make changes on travel scheduled to begin before April 15th, you’ll need to call Sun Country at 651-905-2737. They aren’t open 24/7, only 6:00AM through 11:00PM CST.
For changes to travel more than 60 days out, you can make changes online here.
You can find the most up to date information from Sun Country here.
Allegiant’s policy allows customers with travel more than 7 days out to make a one-time change for free. For customers with travel scheduled in the next 7 days, or travel that includes a hotel or car with the booking, you’ll need to contact Allegiant for more assistance with your reservation.
For travel more than 7 days out, Allegiant is asking customers to make changes online here.
For travel within 7 days, or including hotel or car with the booking, you can call Allegiant at 702-505-8888.
You can find the most up to date information from Allegiant here.
While many of you haven’t booked flights with foreign carriers, we know their cancellation policies will be important to some of you. If you need info on the cancellation policy of one of the many foreign carriers, we suggest looking at the list compiled by Forbes. It should be updated regularly.
In addition to flights, many of you have a reservation at a hotel or Airbnb. Like airlines, hotels will have their own set of policies. Even if a broad company-wide policy doesn’t apply to your case, reaching out to the hotel directly may yield positive results.
Let’s take a look at the policies that the major hotel chains, Airbnb, and some third party companies have in place.
Hyatt is waiving all cancellation fees for any reservation for travel between March 14th and April 30th worldwide if your reservation was made before March 13th up to 24 hours before arrival. This includes “Advance Purchase Rates” which are typically non-refundable.
Any reservations made between March 13th and April 30th for any future travel date can be changed or cancelled with no fee. This again includes “Advance Purchase Rates.”
In addition to these policies, Hyatt is offering 10,000 points compensation for anyone with an “Advance Purchase Reservation” for reservations made before March 8, 2020 for travel through June 30, 2020. This is for people who opt to not travel, and choose points over the offers above.
For award reservations, the cancellation policy varies from property to property, but typically it requires you to cancel within 24 to 48 hours before arrival without penalty. Log into your World of Hyatt account to see what the cancellation policy is for the property you have a reservation at, and you may likely be able to get a full points refund.
You’ll find the most up-to-date information from Hyatt here.
You can reach Hyatt at 1-888-344-9288 or by email at [email protected]
Marriott’s policy can be a bit tricky to find – they bury it in the Marriott news center.
For any existing reservations for future travel, you can cancel or change up to 24 hours before arrival. Just be sure to make your change or cancellation by April 30th. This also applies to pre-paid rates that are typically non-refundable.
If you are making a new reservation between now and April 30th for travel at any time, you’ll be able to change or cancel at no cost, including pre-paid rates that usually are not non-refundable.
Both existing and new reservations that opt to change will be responsible for any difference in rates.
You can reach Marriott directly at 1-800-535-4028.
Hilton has implemented a fairly broad policy to help travelers during this time. Currently, all reservations, including non-refundable reservations, scheduled for arrival before April 30th, 2020, can be changed or cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival.
Any future reservations made between today and April 30, 2020 can be changed or cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival. This applies to reservations for any future arrival date.
There are some country-specific waivers as well, based on government restrictions. You will receive special accommodation waivers if you are planning to travel through France or Spain between March 14th and March 28th. Additional waivers are available for non-US citizens traveling to the US through the UK or Ireland from March 13th through April 12th.
You can make changes online at Hilton.com, or by calling Hilton at 888-446-6677.
For more information, and to see any changes in policy, refer to Hilton’s dedicated coronavirus page here.
IHG has also implemented a flexible policy. Cancellation fees are waived at all IHG hotels around the globe for any stays booked between March 9, and April 30, 2020. Plain, simple, easy.
You can find more information here.
You can contact IHG at 1-877-424-2449.
Wyndham’s policy is country-specific. Wyndham is waiving cancellation and change fees for guests traveling to or from China, South Korea, or Italy with reservations at a Wyndham property through March.
Additionally, Wyndham is allowing all reservations to be accommodated with no change fees, so long as you make the change 48 hours before your scheduled arrival.
This will likely change as the coronavirus situation progresses, so check back to Wyndham’s homepage here for more information.
You can reach Wyndham reservations at 877-999-3223 for assistance with your booking.
Although not a traditional hotel group, Airbnb is one of the biggest homeshare sites out there. Airbnb has implemented a policy to address the coronavirus situation.
AirBNB is allowing full refunds for reservations made before March 14th, 2020 with a check in date of April 14, 2020 or earlier. If you made your reservation after March 14th, 2020, you will be subject to the host’s cancellation policy. This applies to both AirBNB homes and experiences.
You can stay up to date with Airbnb’s policy here.
To contact AirBNB about your eligibility, use their contact page here.
If you didn’t book directly with the hotel, you’ll be subject to the terms from your third party booking agency.
The major booking agencies, Priceline, Expedia, and Travelocity are passing through the cancellation policies issued by the airlines at this time. For hotels, they’re asking you to contact them. Keep in mind, the majority of people book through these websites, so they are slammed with volume right now. Many are asking you to not contact them if your travel is not within 7-14 days.
If you booked your trip with points, you should reach out to the loyalty program with which you booked. Many airlines already have points cancellation policies in place, and many hotels have generous cancellation policies for award reservations.
Be aware, many airlines are not currently waiving change fees for award bookings. You will likely have to pay any cancellation or redeposit fees associated with your award booking.
If you booked through one of the travel portals of the major bank programs, give them a call. You’ll have to wait for the bank to get a refund from the travel provider who will then pass the refund on to you.
Unfortunately, most travel insurance plans will not help during an epidemic event such as this. Currently, Allianz Travel Insurance, one of the leading travel insurance companies is making an exception and accommodating claims for the following circumstances:
- Emergency Medical Care and Transportation for customers who become ill with COVID-19 while on their trip
- Trip cancellation and interruption benefits if a customer becomes ill with COVID-19 while on their trip
- Trip cancellation benefits for customers who purchased their plan before January 22, 2020 for trips to Mainland China, South Korea, or the Lombardy or Veneto regions of Italy that planned to depart prior to April 1, 2020.
If you use another travel insurance provider, check with their policies to see if they’re offering similar graces. Not all companies are at this time.
If you’re relying on travel insurance from a credit card you used while booking, it may not apply unless you or a travel companion get sick or get quarantined by a physician. The trip cancellation and interruption benefit from the Chase Sapphire Reserve explicitly excludes voluntarily choosing not to travel due to an epidemic or pandemic. Similar wording appears on the insurance offered by American Express as well.
As we mentioned above, there are several factors that can help you determine whether you should travel. You might even be considering social distancing measures in the near term. While we won’t tell you whether you should or shouldn’t travel, we want you to be prepared if you do.
To give you an idea of how the 10xTravel community is thinking about the current situation with the coronavirus, we asked our Facebook group about how it has affected their desire to travel.
As of March 13, we’ve received 617 responses. These are the results:
- No Impact: 52%
- Some Impact: 31.7%
- Large Impact: 16.3%
Finally, check your hotel and airline policies if you’ve thought it through and decided that cancelling or postponing is the best option for you and your family. The situation is evolving daily, so what’s here today may not be the situation tomorrow.
Your best bet is to call the airline and hotel provider and discuss your options with them. Below you’ll find the links to all the policies discussed here, along with phone numbers to reach the different companies.
During this time, only you can decide if you want to travel or not. Use this information, along with information from your doctor, family, employer, and any valued source to decide if you should maintain or postpone your travel plans. Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay informed.
Third Party Travel Agencies
With an eye toward future travel, we also asked the 10xTravel community whether the current situation has impacted their desire to earn points and miles. The answer to this question was a resounding NO.
- No Impact: 92%
- Some Impact: 6%
- Large Impact: 1.4%
Regardless of whether you continue to travel or postpone for a bit, we strongly agree with the majority on this second question. In time, things will get back to normal and you’ll be one step ahead of the rest if you’re ready with points and miles ready to use.
Things are seemingly changing by the minute but, hopefully, this guide will help you feel a little less overwhelmed. If you need to make changes or cancel bookings, use the info above to make the process as painless as possible.
While some travel might need to be postponed, you can still be working on learning how to use points while earning points and miles so you’re ready to book when the opportunity presents itself.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on developments in the coronavirus situation. If you ever have any questions, don’t forget to check out our Facebook community where you can ask questions and see how others are handling things.
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