As the coronavirus outbreak has spread, global travel has become a topic of concern. Airlines have responded by suspending travel to various destinations through the early year, and many large conferences and gatherings around the world have been cancelled altogether amid a steady rise in new infections.
To help quell travellers' worries, airlines have begun changing their policies to create flexibility in bookings. If you're planning — or have already scheduled — a trip for the near future, here are your options.
The budget carrier has opened up some flexibility to passengers travelling via areas affected by the virus. Passengers with flights departing between January 24 and March 31, who no longer wish to travel, are invited to rebook onto a future Jetstar service or cancel their tickets for a full refund. Cancellation and rebooking fees will not be charged. Although Jetstar does not operate flights to mainland China from Australia or New Zealand, Jetstar Asia and Jetstar Japan have itineraries that connect via that country.
Air New Zealand
Passengers with tickets on suspended flights to - or via - mainland China can claim a full refund or defer travel for up to 12 months. You should contact the airline directly if the ticket was issued by Air New Zealand (the ticket number will begin with 086). For tickets issued by other providers, passengers are told to contact their original booking agent.
The airline also says that online check in may not be available for international flights, due to extra health screenings, and passengers should allow extra time at airports.
Qantas - which suspended direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai - has offered passengers the option to rebook onwards travel via Hong Kong, which is currently exempt from US and Singaporean travel restrictions. The Australian national carrier is giving passengers with tickets booked before February 20 the option to either rebook or cancel flights for airline credit or refunds.
The carrier has extended its waiver of cancellation or alteration fees until April 30. Passengers who are travelling to Japan, Korea, Taiwan or the services from Bangkok to Rome or Milan will have the ability to cancel or alter date of travel. Tickets booked with the airline can extend departure up until September 30, without ticket-change fees.
Singapore Airlines has updated its travel waiver policy for passengers going to, or from, China, Hong Kong and Macau - allowing travellers to cancel or alter tickets issued before February 8 and travelling before April 30 - without penalty charges. New fares must depart before August 31.
Passengers with tickets between South Korea, booked before February 25 and travelling before April 30, are subject to the same conditions.
Cathay has said it will be halving the capacity of its flights to mainland China until the end of March. Rebooking, rerouting and refund charges will be waived for all tickets issued worldwide for all fare types booked before February 3. Passengers with tickets for either Pacific or Dragon branded flights can claim full refunds (including those marked as "non-refundable") until April 30. Cancellation or alteration fees will not be charged.
American announced that it will waive change fees up to two weeks in advance for travellers who have purchased tickets for flights between March 1 and March 16. That's on top of the already-in-place no change fee for trips that have been scheduled from Feb. 24 to April 24 for Italy, South Korea, Hong Kong, Wuhan and the rest of mainland China.
After expanding flight suspensions to Asia, United is allowing refunds for flights, even non-refundable tickets, purchased for Wuhan, China, from Jan. 22 through March 29. For travel to mainland China, Hong Kong, South Korea and Northern Italy through June 30, United is waiving the change fee and any difference in fare for the same cities as the original ticket.
- With additional reporting by Drew Jones of The Washington Post