Coronavirus cancellations: What to do if you’ve booked travel through an online travel agency (OTA)
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Do you have an upcoming trip you booked through an online travel agency (OTA) that you’re reconsidering? We don’t blame you, especially if it’s in the near future.
The good news is that travel companies around the globe are offering travelers more flexibility when it comes to rescheduling and canceling plans due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. For instance, most airlines are waiving change fees and hotels are offering flexible cancellation policies. In general, OTAs abide by their partners’ policies, which means that online changes and cancellations should be much more accessible given the large number of policy changes that have taken over the industry.
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Here’s what you need to know about rebooking and canceling with OTAs during the coronavirus outbreak.
Booking Holdings Group (Priceline, Booking.com, Kayak, etc.)
Priceline is asking that customers who are not traveling within 72 hours refrain from calling until it is closer to the travel date. If you are trying to cancel, and you booked within the last 24 hours, log into My Trips or search in Find My Trips to view your itinerary, and see if you are eligible for online cancellation. In some cases, you may be redirected to the airline’s website to cancel your ticket.
If you are flying a low-cost carrier then you will need to reach out to the carrier directly for changes and cancellations. You can reach each by calling the following numbers.
- Spirit: 801-401-2222
- Frontier: 801-401-9000
- Volaris: 855-865-2747
- Viva Aerobus: 866-359-8482
- Vueling: 011-34931-518-158
Otherwise, if your travel is more than 72 hours away and is not listed above, you can fill out this cancellation form to request a refund. To see if your respective airline is offering free flexibility, check here.
In addition, hotel bookings made through Priceline or another Booking Holdings company are subject to the cancellation policy and any applicable travel waivers of the hotel company providing your stay. You can view cancellation policies for the major hotel chains on Kayak’s — another Booking Holdings company — website.
Priceline is a part of the Booking Holdings, which includes the following brands: Kayak, Booking.com, Agoda and RentalCars.com. All of these OTAs follow the policies of their partners, so be sure to stay updated on current airlines, hotel and car rental policy changes as the coronavirus situation evolves.
The Expedia Group (Expedia, Orbitz, CheapTickets, hotels.com, etc.)
The Expedia Group is one of the largest holders of OTAs. Included in its portfolio is the following sites:
Like most travel companies right now, OTAs in the Expedia group have been receiving an influx of calls. In an effort to combat that, all of the sites are asking that customers refrain from calling unless travel is within seven days. If you are scheduled to travel within the next seven days and the airline you booked is offering a flexible change policy, then you will likely be able to make the changes online on your own.
Hotels.com has paused the expiration of any collected nights or rewards due to expire between April 1 and Dec. 31. They’re also extending all Gold and Silver memberships that are up for renewal between Feb. 1, 2020 and Jan. 31, 2021 for an additional year.
If you booked a nonrefundable rate prior to March 19, 2020 for stays between March 20 and May 31, you’ll receive an email asking if you wish to keep or cancel your booking. If you want to cancel, you’ll be eligible for a full refund or a voucher allowing you to rebook the original property when it is safe to travel again. You must cancel your booking at least 24 hours before check-in.
Hotels.com is still working with travel partners to implement flexible policies for stays after May 31.
For all other stays, all Expedia-owned OTAs recommend signing into your account, going to “My Trips,” clicking “Change,” and checking to see if your travel dates are eligible. This will tell you whether a penalty fee is being imposed are not.
Company policies are changing by the day and vary from partner to partner — you can save yourself some time by going to their policy pages online where all of the information is posted on the status of any booked travel.
It should also be noted that any flights booked with low-cost carriers via Orbitz, Expedia or CheapTickets must be changed, canceled or refunded with the carrier directly. The OTAs follow the policies of its partners, which means that any credit, refund or change will be at the discretion of the airline, hotel, cruise line or other travel provider.
Kiwi.com is a Czech Republic-based OTA with a large U.S. presence. The OTA specializes in piecing together itineraries across multiple airlines with “self-transfer” tickets that are guaranteed by the OTA, but you can also book standard flight tickets, hotels and other travel through its website.
Like most OTAs, Kiwi is requesting that customers try and cancel their itineraries online through the Manage My Booking page on the OTA’s website. There is a header labeled “Refunds and Cancellations” that states your cancellation options alongside any refund you may be eligible for.
In some cases, Kiwi may have you cancel your booking directly with the airline, hotel or other travel company you’re set to travel with. The OTA’s website notes that it will forward you any vouchers or other refunds you’re eligible for; in the case of a full refund, it will be issued to your original form of payment.
If you can’t cancel your booking online, Kiwi is requesting that you call to cancel if your trip departs in the next three days. This is to keep the phone lines open for those who need to cancel travel urgently.
Kiwi is handling all refunds and cancellations in accordance with the carrier’s own refund policy. At this time, it does not offer any special refunds for nonrefundable hotel rooms or other types of travel.
eDreams is a Spanish OTA that — like Kiwi — has a U.S. presence. The OTA’s website notes that you may be able to cancel tickets on select airlines and certain hotel stays using the Manage My Booking page on the eDreams website. If you can’t change your booking online, call eDreams within three days of your scheduled date of travel to make changes. You must make all changes with budget carriers by contacting the carrier directly.
Interestingly enough, the OTA’s website states that some insurance policies and the OTA’s own “Cancel for any reason” and “flexible dates” policies aren’t applicable due to the coronavirus outbreak. The OTA states that this is because the situation is considered “force majeure.”
eDreams is handling all cancellations and changes in accordance with the airline, hotel or other travel carrier’s own cancellation policies.
Travel companies are trying their best to prioritize customers with urgent travel changes. To save yourself and the customer service agent’s time, be sure to check and see if you can make the changes online for yourself.
For more on travel during the coronavirus outbreak, see:
- What does the deadly coronavirus mean for travelers?
- Myth-busting: Will a face mask keep you safe from viruses on a plane?
- Extreme measures cruise lines are taking
- Should I travel? Advice for the coronavirus outbreak
- No coronavirus waiver? Some airlines have you more covered than others
- How a global outbreak has left the travel industry reeling
Andrew Kunesh contributed to this post.
Featured photo by Photo by Johner Images/Getty Images.
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