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Coronavirus Travel Tips: Cancellations, Ticket Changes, And Precautions Explained

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Mar 5 '20 | By entertainoiam2admin | Views: 32 | Comments: 0

At this point, we’re all beginning to get pretty tired of hearing about this coronavirus. It feels like every day, we come across a new headline that makes us think “Oh, no!” or you know, some variation of that. It’s not fun. And, there are some realities settling in now that many of us have to deal with — like possibly canceling upcoming travel plans or skipping that concert you’ve been looking forward to.

If you happen to have upcoming travel plans, dealing with this thing is a real concern and we’re not even talking about your health! The coronavirus is ready to throw a monkey wrench into your spring and summer plans: Event cancellations, delayed flights, travel advisories are all in full effect right now. And, if you’re not careful, it could wind up costing you some serious money and maybe even your health.

It’s not going to come to that though. We’ve put together this guide to help make traveling during the coronavirus outbreak easier. We’ll be sure to update this post regularly as travel advisories and precautionary measures change and evolve and keep it up to date with all the information available. So let’s dive in because there’s no damn way we’re letting COVID-19 keep us from finding out what hell Baby Yoda even is!

Where Can And Can’t We Travel To Now?

Currently, the CDC’s travel warning for China and Iran is at its highest level and recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the two countries (you wouldn’t be able to find a flight anyway). On top of that, the entry of foreign nationals from these countries has been temporarily suspended. So if you have a flight to either of those two countries in the next few months — it’s not going to happen. If you were in these countries and just want to come home, there’s no definitive word on when you’ll be able to come back.

Travelers have also been advised to stay clear of traveling to South Korea or Italy. So if you have any trips planned to either country within the next four months, you should immediately look into canceling them. Whatever event you planned to attend is probably being canceled anyway. The CDC also advises older travelers or those with chronic medical conditions to postpone any travel plans to Japan.

In terms of domestic travel, coronavirus is currently in 16 states and the CDC has not issued travel warnings for a single one. So traveling to any state is indeed safe, but we’d like to offer a word of caution. The New York Times reports that Washington, California, and Oregon all have reported incidents of the virus in people with no high-risk travel history, which strongly suggests that the virus could be spreading undetected in the United States.

With that in mind, it’s not a bad idea to practice some extra safety precautions when traveling to these states. We’re not saying rock a full-on hazmat suit, but maybe be aware of the surfaces you touch and any sick people you may come in contact with, and make a habit of washing your hands.

And no, you do not need a mask unless you’re sick, even if you’re traveling to a city with an ongoing outbreak, a mask will not protect you.

What If I Have To Cancel My Flight?

If you just booked a flight a week ago, already had a flight booked, or need to book a flight soon, we wish we had better news for you. Several airlines are offering fee waivers for rescheduled and canceled flights due to health concerns, but there’s a high chance that you’ll have to pay fare differences or won’t be able to receive a full refund.

We’ve broken down what each airline’s current policy is below, but be sure to check out each’s policy page for a full breakdown and any changes (remember, this is a constantly evolving situation).

American Airlines

If you happen to book a flight to Hong Kong or China refunds are available so long as the cancellation is made before the scheduled flight date. If you’ve booked a non-refundable flight elsewhere, or plan to book a flight anytime from March 1st to the 16th, you’ll be able to change your travel plans without being charged a fee, so long as your travel was to occur between March 1st, 2020 and January 26th, 2021. Your new travel date must take place within a year of the original travel date and you’ll have to pay any difference in fares. Any changes to your flight must be made two weeks advance from the outbound date.

Alaska Airlines

Those who purchased a “Saver Fare” between February 27 and March 31st, 2020 for travel through February 28th, 2021, may cancel their trip and deposit their funds into the My Account Wallet to use as credit for future flights. If you purchased a nonrefundable first class or main fare ticket between February 27th and March 31st you have the option to make a one-time change so long as your new travel date occurs before February 28, 2021, and you’ll have to suffer a possible fare difference charge, or you can cancel your trip and deposit the funds into the My Account Wallet.

Delta Airlines

If you had a trans-Pacific flight booked to Beijing, Shanghai, Incheon, South Korea, or Italy between now and April 30th, you can make a one-time change without incurring any change fees, though you may have to pay fare differences if they apply. Rebooked travel must begin by May 31st.

Travelers seeking to cancel their flights will be given credit to use toward the purchase of a new ticket that must be purchased within a year of the original issue date.

Frontier Airlines

If you have a reservation between now and March 16th, you’ll be able to make a one-time change to your reservation fee-free, though differences in fares do apply. Your future travel date must be completed by June 1st, though you have the option to change your origin and destination city.

Cancellations can be done without a cancellation fee, but you’ll be refunded in credit that’s only valid for 90 days.

Hawaiian Airlines

All service between Honolulu and Incheon have been suspended until April 30th. Luckily, if you rebook your flight before October 31st, you won’t be charged change fees or fare differences so long as there’s no change to the origin and departure city. In the event you want to rebook your flight after October 31st, you won’t be charged a change fee, but you will have to pay fare differences.

If you plan on traveling to Japan, you’ll have until April 23, 2020, to rebook your flight, and if you had a flight to China you have until May 31st, 2020. Cancellation fees have also been waived and Hawaiian is offering full refunds so long as your flight is affected directly.

JetBlue Airways

All chance and cancellations fees have been suspended for new flights booked between February 27th and March 11th, 2020, and scheduled through June 1st, 2020. Fare differences have not been waved.

If you need to cancel your flight, you will receive credit valid for a full year worth the amount of the flight fare, including taxes and fees.


Flights to mainland China have been completely canceled until at least April 24th, with a reduction in flights to Hong Kong which is likely to continue to shrink. Luckily, if your flight is affected you can request a refund with no cancellation fees. Lufthansa is also rebooking customers automatically at no additional charge which is a nice gesture we wish more airlines adopted.

Spirit Airlines

Oh Spirit, leave it to them to have no fee waiver policy in place. According to Market Watch, the airliner says it is “offering flexible options to our guests who reached out with concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus” since late January. But we’re not sure what that even means?

United Airlines

United is offering refunds for all flights booked to China — even if you purchased a nonrefundable ticket — and will be waiving change fees and fare difference for anyone who books a flight to airports in Northern Italy, China, Hong Kong, and South Korea between now and June 30th, so long as your new ticket is in the same ticket class as your original booking. If you booked your trip awhile ago, you’ll likely need to pay any fare differences.

Should I Get Travel Insurance?

According to Vox, most travel insurance companies are designed to cover unforeseen events, and since technically the coronavirus is now something we all know about, it’s now a “foreseen” event. If you already had travel insurance before coronavirus ruined your plans, you may be covered, in which case you should contact your travel insurance provider immediately. If you opt for the more expensive “cancel for any reason” coverage, you’ll be covered and able to recoup about 75 percent of your trip cost no matter the circumstance. Of course, you’ll be paying more to get more. It’s up to you whether that’s worth it.

Each travel insurance provider will have different options and benefits, but one thing you can be absolutely sure of is that travel insurance isn’t really going to do you any good for the coronavirus, so if you’re seeking insurance out for that specific reason, your money might be better spent elsewhere.

What About Taking A Cruise?

What are you out of your mind? Look, a cruise isn’t exactly the most dangerous place to be, but coronavirus outbreaks have already occurred on two cruise ships, the Diamond Princess and the Grand Princess. Cruise lines are canceling trips to East Asia left and right, so it’s a little too risky right now to recommend. Not because you have a high chance of getting the infection on a cruise ship (you don’t) but because new cases can pop up anywhere, which means sudden cancellations. Besides nothing sounds like a bigger bummer than taking a cruise and hearing you have to live on the ship an additional 14 days because you aren’t allowed to come ashore.

By all means, if you feel you must go on a cruise ship, knock yourself out and have fun. But keep up to date with the latest outbreaks to make sure you aren’t cruising straight to a new coronavirus hotspot.

I’m Going To Be Traveling, How Can I Keep Myself Safe?

If you’re heavy on the paranoia and the thought of sitting in an airplane with a bunch of potentially sick people sounds like a literal hell, feel free to disinfect your space on an airplane. Coronavirus or not, airplanes are no doubt filled with all types of different bacteria (albeit mostly harmless) so if it gives you some peace of mind and helps make your flight a more comfortable experience, you do you.

The viral particles of the coronavirus travel within mucus and saliva and enter through the eyes, nose, or mouth. So wash your hands with soap and water first, grab a disinfectant wipe, and give that tray table, touch screen, seat, and anything else you touch a good rub down. It’ll kill any traces of the coronavirus that are on that surface, but remember, the likelihood of the coronavirus being on that surface is incredibly low.

Speaking to The New York Times, Aaron Milstone, an associate hospital epidemiologist at the John Hopkins Hospital stressed that far more important than disinfecting your space is keeping your hands off your face. “It’s not bad to wipe down the area around you,” Milstone notes. “But it’s worth remembering that the coronavirus is not going to jump off the seat and get into your mouth … people should be more careful of touching something dirty then putting their hands on their faces.”

If you’re curious about which seat will keep you the safest, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that because respiratory diseases are spread through close contact, the window seat is the safest place to sit during a flight. Considering 60 percent of window seat passengers don’t leave their seats whereas 80 percent of passengers on the aisle do leave their seats, that makes the aisle seat the most dangerous. The study also found that droplets from respiratory infections are unlikely to transmit or spread infections to passengers seated farther than two seats beside them, or one row in front or behind. So if the person two rows back is coughing, don’t panic.

Remember, and we really can’t stress this enough, the safest thing you can do is keep your hands away from your mouth, eyes, and face and make a habit of washing your hands frequently. Do whatever you need to do to make that your new habit.

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