Steps to take when your trip is cancelled due to COVID-19

Written by Nigel Simpkins

With the Coronavirus hitting the travel and tourism industry very hard, there have been challenges for airline companies, their customers and governmental regulating bodies on how to address canceled flights. The impact of COVID-19 in 2020 has been so sudden that the sudden decrease in business has put airlines in cash flow shortages. Yet they and the government authorities know that customers who’ve seen flights suddenly canceled, and who may not have other travel options need some way to get flight compensation. If COVID-19 was the reason one of your flights was canceled, look into one of the following ways to get your ticket refunded.

Make Sure It Was Your Airline Who Canceled The Flight

Usually you can’t file any form for compensation on a canceled flight for COVID-19 related reasons unless it was the airline who canceled it. If they cancel the original flight you booked and cannot accommodate your travel plans by re-booking on a later date, they are required to refund your ticket purchase even if it was non-refundable. The US Department of Transportation also says that if the airline made a “significant” schedule change that delayed the flight, and the passenger then decides to cancel their trip. You may want to consult the DOT website for more clarification on this policy.

Canceling On Your Own Due To Health Concerns

What should you do if you suddenly changed your mind about traveling because you were going to be traveling to an area hit hard by the pandemic, or if you yourself became ill from it? Unfortunately, both of these circumstances usually don’t allow for you to get flight compensation unless you purchased a refundable ticket, or if the airline made a specific exception for your case. For cases like these, you will usually need a travel insurance policy with a “cancel for any reason” provision in it. For other policies dealing with personal cancelation including being ill, you may need to have purchased travel insurance before January 21, 2020 or prove you were under quarantine for the duration of the travel period.

How To Initiate Compensation

Many airlines are offering compensation in other forms besides refunds such as vouchers and credits. These may work out if you have a relatively inexpensive trip and can travel again soon. But vouchers can have restrictions that may make them not as beneficial as a full refund, especially for more expensive trips. While there are specific instances that require airlines to refund you in cash, sometimes they will review your case and delay this. The best way to start a refund request is to go to the airline website and follow the instructions. In some cases you may need to speak with their corporate team over the phone. If they outright refuse to refund your ticket and are required to do so, you can try contacting the appropriate government authorities and filing a complaint against the airline. If that doesn’t work, you can sometimes get your credit card company to do a chargeback if you can prove they failed to uphold their contract or legal obligations. It’s important to remember, as stated by Travel Refund, that “Your right to compensation due to a cancelled flight depends on the reason for the cancellation and if the airline lived up to all their obligations in terms of minimizing your delay.”

In conclusion, because of the sudden changes to flight plans brought about by COVID-19, you’ll need to have a little patience with airline companies and the high volume of refund requests they are currently dealing with. But so long as you keep a record of your ticket purchases and are following the correct procedures, there will usually be a way to be compensated for cancellations that weren’t your fault.