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The outbreak of COVID-19 illness caused by a novel coronavirus has continued to grow, with seemingly new cases and travel advisories popping up on a regular basis. Companies have canceled employee travel plans, and the Summer Olympics in Tokyo could possibly be postponed to later in 2020. Given the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, airlines, hotels and online travel agencies have been loosening their change and cancellation policies to accommodate travelers.
If your travel plans have changed or you’re thinking about revising your plans because of the outbreak, you’ll be relieved to know that many airlines, hotels and OTAs have been waiving change and cancellation fees during this period. The policies apply to existing bookings and new bookings. There are even some extensions for earning elite status.
How to change or cancel your booking
We’ve compiled a list of airlines, hotels and OTAs that have offered enhanced change and cancellation policies as a result of COVID-19. Use each website below to find the latest information.
If the policy listed on your travel provider’s website does not answer your question or your circumstance is outside the policy, calling the provider or reaching out on Twitter is the next best step. Sometimes explaining your situation to a customer service representative is all you need to do to receive a full refund or a waiver of your change or cancellation fees.
If you have elite status with the hotel or airline, your loyalty may help you in this instance. Airlines tend to have lower change or cancellation fees for their elites. Some hotels have also extended the time frame required for achieving elite status.
Nerd tip: If you find that the customer service agent isn’t able to accommodate your request, call back and try again with another representative. Certain agents have more authority than others or are simply more willing to bend the rules. If you’re still not getting the response you want, look into the trip cancellation and/or trip interruption policies provided by your credit card. Although you may need to supply some additional paperwork to receive compensation, credit card insurance policies are usually the next step in receiving a full refund.
» Learn more here:
Domestic and international airlines
Credit Card Travel Portals
The bottom line
Countries are working to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many travelers have made the difficult decision to change or cancel vacation or work travel plans. Luckily, airlines, hotels, OTAs and credit card travel portals have been offering flexible change and cancellation policies for travel during this period. Changing or canceling a trip isn’t a decision that comes lightly, so it's a relief to know that travel operators are making that process a little bit easier by easing their policies.
Have your plans been affected by the coronavirus? Tell us below in the comments.
Check out our additional resources on navigating the coronavirus outbreak: COVID-19: NerdWallet Answers Questions About Travel, Finances 9 credit cards that provide travel insurance How to prepare your house, mind and bank account