Airlines and hotels offering full refunds in response to coronavirus outbreak

Jan 25, 2020

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As of Jan. 26, it has been reported that nearly 50 people have died as a result of a coronavirus outbreak that originated in China. Thousands are expected to be infected, and with no sign of slowing down in the near future, travel companies around the world are taking action by offering free cancellations in an effort to help contain the outbreak.

Further reading: What spread of deadly new virus means for travelers 

China has shut down approximately 10 cities and has halted transportation in and out of Wuhan, a city of 11 million in Hubei province that is the epicenter of the virus’ outbreak.

The U.S. State Department has issued a Level 4 travel advisory, urging Americans not to visit Hubei province. If you had plans to travel to or through China in the near future, you may want to postpone those plans. Here’s what compensation you’re eligible for.

Airlines

Chinese carriers

On Jan. 21, The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued a statement requiring airlines to attach great importance to the prevention of the outbreak. For passengers who have already purchased flight tickets to or from Wuhan and wish to cancel their trip, airlines should handle their refund requests free of charge.

If you had plans to travel within China, you should be eligible for a full refund on the following airlines: Air China, Capital Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, Chengdu Airlines, China Airlines and Mandarin Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, China United Airlines, Juneyao Airlines, Lucky Air, Hainan Airlines, OK Air, Scoot, Shandong Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Spring Airlines, Suparna Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, West Air, Urumqi Air and Xiamen Air.

American Airlines

American Airlines flight attendants criticized the airline for not taking action sooner, however, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants asked AA that it “institute immediate emergency measures, including providing crew members the latest information regarding the 2019-nCoV outbreak, identifying the signs and symptoms of illness in oneself and others, and practical procedures to manage potentially ill persons.”

In response, American issued flight waivers that allows a one-time, fee-free change on travel to, through and from the following cities:

  • Beijing, China (PEK)
  • Shanghai, China (PVG)

This applies to passengers traveling between now and Jan. 31 who can reschedule travel between Jan. 24 and Feb. 29. You cannot change your origin or destination city and must rebook in the same cabin or pay the difference in fare. Additionally, you must have bought your ticket prior to Jan. 24.

Alternatively, you can delay your trip and the airline will waive the change or cancellation fees as long as you purchased the ticket by Jan. 24, are scheduled to travel between Jan. 24 – 31, can travel Jan. 24, 2020, and up to 331 days after your original ticket date, or wish to change your origin and destination cities. Changes must be booked by Jan. 31, 2020.

AA doesn’t serve Wuhan (WUH) on its own metal, though its partners China Southern and Cathay Pacific do. If you are scheduled to fly to, through or from Wuhan between Jan. 23 and March 31, you can cancel and get a refund for the segments of the trip you did not complete.

Delta Air Lines

Like American, Delta doesn’t serve Wuhan on its own planes, though its SkyTeam partners Xiamen and China Eastern do. As a response to the outbreak, Delta has issued travel waivers for those traveling to, through and from the following affected cities between Jan. 24 – 31:

  • Beijing, China (PEK)
  • Shanghai (PVG)

The change fees will be waived for Delta flights departing on or before Feb. 29. You can also cancel your trip and use the ticket value toward a future flight though change fees and fare differences will apply to the new itinerary.

United Airlines

United serves more cities in China with its own metal than its U.S. peers do, which means the airline’s waivers is a little more widespread, and applies to the following cities: 

  • Beijing, China (PEK)
  • Chengdu, China (CTU)
  • Shanghai, China (PVG)

If you are scheduled to fly to, though and from Wuhan (WUH) between Jan. 22 and March, 29, you can request a refund on all tickets. The only stipulation is that you must have purchased the ticket before Jan. 21.

You can request a refund if you are scheduled to travel between Jan. 24 and Feb. 7. The change fee and fare difference will be waived for United flights departing on or before the outlined date as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed.

The change fee will also be waived if you’d like to change your departure or destination city after Feb. 7, although any fare difference may apply. All rescheduled travel must take place within a year of when the ticket was originally issued.

Hotels

In addition to airlines, hotel chains are doing their part to contain the coronavirus outbreak as well as lessen the impact that the outbreak has on travelers, primarily by offering full refunds to previously booked stays.

Hilton

Hilton issued a statement announcing that it would offer free cancellations on all bookings at Hilton properties in Wuhan. Additionally, all residents of Wuhan are eligible to cancel any bookings they had worldwide. In both cases, guests are eligible for a full refund on stays on or before Feb. 2.

Accor

Accor has extended free cancellations to guests who are booked to stay at any property within Greater China on or before Feb. 2.

Featured photo by Anadolu Agency / Contributor/ Getty Images.

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