“What should I do about my trip?” It’s a question we are hearing often. In the short term, for international travel the State Department and most countries have answered the question for you: stay home. Even with the global travel ban lifted, the vast majority of the globe is under a travel warning or will not allow Americans to enter.
For domestic travel, the answers aren’t crystal clear. The best you can do is be sure you’re making decisions based on the best available information. Unfortunately, finding the best available information is challenging because both airlines and governments are changing policies by the day. TSA recently crossed the 1 million passenger per day threshold but airline travel is still down 65% year over year.
At this point, airlines are asking you to delay contacting them to change your flights unless you are flying in the next 72 hours. If you can’t get through via phone, try the airline’s social media channels. Many rebookings or refunds can be processed over Twitter, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
Keep in mind that if your flight departing from, arriving into or transiting the United States is cancelled by the airline, according to the US Department of Transportation you will be eligible for a cash refund, full stop. This policy also includes flights that incur major changes, such as adding a connection or a schedule change of more than two hours.
The European Union has a similar rule, commonly known as Rule 261, that provides for refunds for any flights that arrive into, travel through or depart Europe. On March 18, 2020 the European Union issued a clarification to Rule 261 reiterating that cancelled flights are eligible for refund to the original form of payment.
If your flight isn’t in the next three days, it’s in your best interest to wait as you’ll have a better set of options available to you if your flight is actually cancelled vs. you initiating the change. There’s no harm at this point in holding on to your ticket until a week or less before your departure date as chances are high your flight will have significant changes if it is not cancelled entirely.
It’s in the airline’s best interest to offer you “free changes” or a voucher as it prevents you from asking for a cash refund if/when the fight is cancelled. Some airlines, notably British Airways, have been accused of actively hiding the steps you can use to get a cash refund. Know your rights and don’t settle for a voucher.
Click here to read the full article.