COVID-19 & Your Business: Frequent Questions

Can I obtain a refund for travel that I cancel or change as a result of concern for COVID-19?

Many airlines are changing their refund policies and change fee policies related to travel cancellations causes by COVID-19. It is important before making any changes to scheduled travel to call the airline directly. Every airline has different policies, and they are currently quite fluid. While travel agents can sometimes be helpful in making changes, many travel agents, particularly at large online travel agencies, are not informed on the most recent policy changes that airlines have implemented, which may leave passengers subject to large charges that could have been avoided by dealing directly with the airline. Also look at the airline’s website as to its COVID-19 change fee and travel policies.

Travel insurance may also provide some recovery for losses incurred as a result of travel changes. Some travel insurance policies have an epidemic exclusion. COVID-19 was classified as an epidemic by the CDC on February 3, 2020, so policies purchased after that date may exclude coverage for changes prompted by COVID-19. Similarly, some travel insurance policies include a known-event exclusion. The known event date for COVID-19 is January 22, 2020.

If a traveler enters an aircraft and there are a lot of passengers who seem to be coughing or sneezing, concern is normal, but there are a number of other respiratory illnesses and allergens in circulation that cause sneezing and coughing. Travelers can take precautionary measures such as wearing a face mask and/or gloves during travel or wiping their seat, seatbelt, tray, armrests, air vents, and light switches with disinfecting wipes. Travelers who visit the lavatory may wish to disinfect the handles and everything they touch within the lavatory. And travelers who are seated next to a visibly ill seatmate should request reassignment of their seat, if available. If you still have concerns, those should be addressed to the flight crew.

Last updated May 22

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