Fat chance getting your money back for a flight that’s been cancelled, or which you have cancelled because you can’t travel now because of the Coronavirus pandemic, especially if you purchased a lower-cost non-refundable ticket.
Almost without exception, airlines are keeping your money while allowing you to change your flight without a change fee.
Depending on the airline, you must rebook and use your ticket within six months of purchase, by October, by January or up to 365 days from the day you purchased it.
Worse, after this Covid-19 horror is over and we can travel safely again, your same flight might cost more than your original, and you will have to pay the difference.
Ditto if you use the money the airline is holding to fly to a destination other than the original one.
None of this is good news for us travelers who made plans months ago for spring and summer vacations, weddings, college graduation ceremonies or other family milestones.
Here are the latest cancellation and refund policies, alphabetically by US carrier and apply only to domestic flights. International flights are a whole other story.
Try online first, using your reservation code, since the toll-free phone numbers are overwhelmed, and you are likely to experience a long wait on terminal hold (pardon the pun).
Customers who bought or plan to buy nonrefundable tickets between Feb. 27 and March 31 for travel through Feb. 28, 2021 can cancel their trip and apply the funds toward a future flight.
Customers who purchased a first class, main or award ticket also can change their flights once without charge
No penalty charge for changes to flights purchased before March 1 for travel originally scheduled through May 31.
Fare differences apply when rebooking; rescheduled flights must depart by Dec. 31.
Change fees are waived for all tickets purchased in March, as well as for all flights departing in March, April or May (fare differences apply).
Fees are also waived for international tickets to affected countries. Rebooking details and restrictions may vary by destination; see Delta’s website for details.
No fee for changing flights scheduled through April 30, or for new bookings made between March 6 and March 31 for travel through Sept. 8
Flights originally booked on or before March 10 can be rescheduled for a new date, as late as Oct. 24. No-penalty changes and cancellations also apply to bookings made between Feb. 27 and March 5 for travel through June 1.
The standard policy, published in its website, is that it “never charges customers a fee to change or cancel their flight,” as long as it’s at least 10 minutes before the flight’s departure.
The money for the canceled flight can be applied to a future trip with Southwest for up to one year from the original purchase date.
This low fare carrier is not making it easy, requiring customers who “must alter their travel plans” due to COVID-19 to request a credit for the full value of their flight, which must be used within six months.
Changes can be made on Spirit’s online reservation credit form.
Change fees are being waived for tickets purchased before March 2 for travel planned between March 9 and May 31.
New bookings made through March 31 can be changed for free over the next 12 months.
Fares differences may also be waived for specific international destinations; see United’s website for details.