Coronavirus Travel Resources

Due to coronavirus (COVID-19), many airlines have offered free changes or refunds, and many are offering free changes on future flights so travelers can book with confidence. We’ve collected resources to help our members make sense of it all. While all info is accurate at the time of publishing—and we’ll do our best to keep it up to date—you should always verify facts with the airline, insurance provider, or a reputable source like the World Health Organization.
Last Updated: November 9, 2020
Can I change a flight I booked prior to March 1?

Many flights have canceled, and airlines are offering full refunds, refunds in the form of future travel credit, or waived changed fees.

For example, American, United, and Delta are all offering fee changes for any flights through at least December 31, regardless of the destination or date they were booked. Note that for the waived change fees, in most cases while you won’t pay a change fee you will still pay the fare difference if your new date costs more, though there are some exceptions.

Some airlines are better than others about proactively notifying travelers of their options, so if you don't see your airline below or aren't clear on the rules for your trip, check the airline's website or reach out to the airline directly via phone, email, or social media.

Here’s a roundup of some of the airlines offering free changes on previously booked tickets. 

Alitalia

Travelers with tickets for a destination in Italy, who booked before April 30 with travel dates before December 31, can change their flight for free, so long as the new flight departs within one year of the original travel date. Read the complete rules here. 

Alaska Airlines

Alaska is offering free cancellation (you’ll get a credit for future travel) for all flights. Read the complete rules here. 

Allegiant

Allegiant’s website states that “customers with reservations may make a one-time change to their travel plans without incurring change or cancel fees.” Read the complete rules here. 

American Airlines

American airlines is offering free changes for any ticket purchased prior to June 30 for travel through December 31, so long as the new flight departs on/before December 31, 2021 or one year from original issue date—whichever is sooner. In cases where flights have been canceled entirely, you’ll get a refund. American has also announced it will waive change fees for all domestic and short-haul international flying on Premium Cabin fares and most Main Cabin fares. Read the complete rules here.

ANA

Travelers headed to Japan who booked by April 8 for travel through October 31 can get a refund or change their flight with no fee.  Read the complete rules here. 

British Airways

Travelers booked to fly through October 31can rebook with no change fee. They'll receive a voucher for the fare, which can be used to for travel through April 30, 2022. Read the complete rules here. 

Delta Air Lines

Travelers flying to any international destination through March 2021 can change their flight with no fees; vouchers for future travel are good for two years. Delta also announced that it will waive change feels on all flights within the domestic US, including Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands in Delta’s First Class, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort+ and Main Cabin, with the exception of Basic Economy tickets. Read the complete rules here. 

Frontier

For tickets issued prior to April 15, 2020 customers may make a one-time change to their itinerary without a change/cancel fee. Read the complete rules here. 

Hawaiian

Hawaiian Airlines is allowing free changes on all flights. Read the complete rules here. 

Iberia

Travelers booked to fly from the US to Europe between March 1 and October 31 (with a few blackout dates) can rebook with no change fee for travel up to June 30, 2021. Read the complete rules here. 

Icelandair

Travelers flying between now and December 31, 2021 can rebook with no change fees so long as travel departs by December 31, 2021. Read the complete rules here.

JAL

Travelers flying to Japan through January 31, 2021 can cancel or change their flight with no fee. For changes, flights must be rebooked to depart within one year. Read the complete rules here. 

JetBlue

JetBlue is waiving all change/cancel fees for customers traveling through January 4, 2021. Read the complete rules here. 

Lufthansa

Travelers can rebook for a new date with no change fees. Read the complete rules here.

Qatar Airways

Travelers who have booked flights for travel up to December 31, 2020 can change their dates with no change fee or exchange their ticket for a travel voucher valid for one year so long as they make the request at least three days prior to departure. Read the complete rules here. 

Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines is waiving all rebooking fees for travel up to December 31, 2020. Read the complete rules here. 

Southwest Airlines

Southwest never charges a fee to change or cancel a flight, so long as you do it at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. Read the complete rules here. 

Spirit

Travelers who need to cancel or postpone a trip will receive a credit for the full value of their reservation, which can be used for up to six months to book any flight currently available (including beyond the six-month timeframe). Read the complete rules here. 

Sun Country

Sun Country is waiving change fees when changes are made 60+ days prior to departure. Read the complete rules here. 

United Airlines

United is waiving change fees for all international tickets with original travel dates through December 31. They are also waiving all change feels on economy and premium tickets for trips within the US. Read the complete rules here. 

If your airline is not currently offering free cancellations or changes for your trip, it can be wise to wait it out. If you wait until closer to your departure date, the situation could change and the airline may change its policies accordingly. You can also read our article on how to cancel your flight and get some money back. 

Which airlines are waiving change fees on new flight bookings?

To help travelers feel a bit more secure about booking now for future trips, many airlines are waiving change fees for new bookings made in the next few weeks. Note that in most cases, if you do end up changing your flight under this policy, while there is no change fee you’ll still have to pay the fare difference if your new flight is more expensive. 

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and of course, things are changing frequently so always verify rules and requirements directly with the airline. 

Aer Lingus

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
Applicable travel dates:
any
Changes can only be made through May 31, 2021. No changes after. Complete rules.

Aeromexico

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
Applicable travel dates:
any
New travel must commence:
within 330 days of your original flight
Does not apply to basic economy. Read the complete rules here. 

Air Canada

No change fee for tickets purchased: through December 31, 2020
Applicable travel dates:
through December 31, 2021
New travel must commence by:
any time.
Read the complete rules here. 

Air France

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
Applicable travel dates:
any
Read the complete rules here. 

Air Tahiti Nui

No change fee for tickets purchased: byDecember 31, 2020
New travel must commence: by December 31, 2021
Changes must be made by April 5, 2021. Complete rules.

Alaska Airlines

No change fee for tickets purchased: through December 31, 2020
Applicable travel dates:
any
New travel must commence: varies.
Read the complete rules here. 

American Airlines

No change fee for tickets purchased: through December 31, 2020 for all tickets; any dates for domestic and short-haul international fares above Basic Economy
Applicable travel dates:
any
New travel must commence: by December 31, 2021 for tickets bought before September 30; otherwise anytime
Read the complete rules here.

ANA

No change fee for tickets purchased: by December 31, 2020
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

Asiana

No change fee for tickets purchased: byDecember 31, 2020
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

Avianca

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
Applicable travel dates:
any
New travel must commence: by December 31, 2021
Excludes Basic Economy (Must be ticket “M”). Complete rules here.

British Airways

No change fee for tickets purchased: after March 3, 2020
Applicable travel dates:
through August 31, 2021
New travel must commence: within 12 months of your original date of departure
Read the complete rules here. 

Brussels Airlines

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

Cathay Pacific

No change fee for tickets purchased: by December 31, 2020
New travel must commence: within 12 months of ticketing date
Complete rules,

Copa

No change fee for tickets purchased: by January 31, 2021
Applicable travel dates:
on or after September 1, 2020
New travel must commence: December 31, 2021
Complete rules here.

Delta Air Lines

No change fee for tickets purchased: through December 31 for all tickets; any dates for domestic fares above Basic Economy
Applicable travel dates:
any
New travel must commence: with a year from the date you originally purchased your ticket.
Read the complete rules here. 

Eastern

No change fee for tickets purchased: byJanuary 31, 2021
New travel must commence: within 12 months of ticketing date
Complete rules.

Ethiopian

No change fee for tickets purchased: by November 30, 2020
New travel must commence: by December 31, 2021
Complete rules.

Etihad

No change fee for tickets purchased: by December 31, 2020
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

Fiji Airways

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

Finnair

No change fee for tickets purchased: by March 31, 2021
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

French Bee

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

GOL

No change fee for tickets purchased: by March 31, 2021
New travel must commence: by December 31, 2021
Complete rules.

Hawaiian

No change fee for tickets purchased: by December 31, 2020
New travel must commence: within 24 months from original ticket date
Complete rules.

Icelandair

No change fee for tickets purchased: through December 31, 2020
Applicable travel dates:
through December 31, 2021
New travel must commence: any time
Read the complete rules here. 

Japan Airlines

No change fee for tickets purchased: byMarch 31, 2021
New travel must commence:
by March 31, 2022
Complete rules.

JetBlue

No change or cancellation fee for tickets purchased: through February 28, 2021
Applicable travel dates:
any
New travel must commence: passengers will be credited the amount in the form of a travel credit that’s valid for 24 months
Read the complete rules here

KLM

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
Applicable travel dates:
any
New travel must commence: anytime
Read the complete rules here. 

Korean Air

No change fee for tickets purchased: by December 31, 2020
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

LATAM

No change fee for tickets purchased: after October 1, 2020
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

Level

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

LOT

No change fee for tickets purchased: by March 31, 2021
New travel must commence: by December 31, 2021
Complete rules.

Lufthansa

No change fee for tickets purchased: any
Applicable travel dates:
any
New travel must commence: anytime
Read the complete rules here. 

Qatar Airways

No change fee for tickets purchased: through December 31, 2020
New travel must commence: passengers will be issued a voucher valid for two years, but changes must be made by December 31, 2021
Read the complete rules here. 

Royal Air Maroc

No change fee for tickets purchased: any
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

Silver Airways

No change fee for tickets purchased: by December 31, 2020
New travel must commence: by December 31, 2020
Complete rules.

Singapore Airlines

No change fee for tickets purchased: by December 31, 2020
New travel must commence: within 12 months from original ticket date
Complete rules.

SAS

No change fee for tickets purchased: any
Applicable travel dates:
any
New travel must commence: within 12 months of receiving voucher
Read the complete rules here. 

Southwest Airlines

Southwest never charges a fee to change or cancel a flight, so long as you do it at least 10 minutes prior to the scheduled departure. Read the complete rules here. 

SWISS

No change fee for tickets purchased: December 31, 2020
New travel must commence: anytime
Read the complete rules here. 

Turkish

No change fee for tickets purchased: byDecember 31, 2020
New travel must commence: by December 31, 2021
Compete rules.

United

No change fee for tickets purchased: any for domestic and short-haul international (on economy fares or higher); through December 31, 2020 for long-haul international
Applicable travel dates:
any for domestic and short-haul international (on economy fares or higher); through December 31, 2020 for long-haul international
New travel must commence: within 24 months of the original ticket issue date
Read the complete rules here. 

Virgin Atlantic

No change fee for tickets purchased: through December 31, 2020
Applicable travel dates:
through August 31, 2021
New travel must commence: by December 31, 2022
Read the complete rules here. 

WestJet

No change fee for tickets purchased: through December 31, 2020
Applicable travel dates:
any
Read the complete rules here.

How is Scott’s Cheap Flights deciding what deals to send?

We consider a number of factors when deciding what deals to send and what not to send. We look at recommendations from organizations including the World Health Organization, US State Department, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We generally do not send deals to locations listed as a Level 4 (Do Not Travel) or Level 3 (Reconsider Travel) by the US State Department. However, given the ever-changing situation, we’ve made some additional temporary changes to our approach to deals. 

First, while we’ve never sent deals that are only last minute, given the circumstances, for international routes we’re going to prioritize deals for travel at least 3-4 months down the line and for domestic routes we’re going to prioritize deals with availability at least 1-2 months down the line.  For more information about the criteria our team uses to make sure you receive the best deals possible you can learn more about the "Bestie Test" here.

Second, we'll put a heavy emphasis on deals that waive change/cancellation fees so you can be flexible. Some airlines are waiving change fees for new bookings, so we’ll prioritize deals with flexibility and pass along the fine print so you can decide if a deal is right for you.

You can read more about why we made this decision here.

Will flight prices drop as a result of COVID-19?

Airfare is generally lower as a result of COVID-19, though there’s a lot of variance across routes and dates. Flights aren’t just cheap for travel in the short-term, but as far out as next summer in many cases. There’s likely a limit to how far they’ll go, though.

Many airlines are reducing their flight schedules drastically in tandem with the reduction in demand. Fewer flights means fewer seats to fill, which will limit how far fares drop even as fewer people are flying. 

One unexpected impact of coronavirus is a big increase in rare, valuable deals: namely, mistake fares and deals for peak summer and holiday travel. Compared to last year, we’ve seen a doubling of mistake fares and a 50% increase in deals for the peak summer and holiday seasons. Airlines need cash right now, oil prices are low, and travelers are nervous about booking, so airlines are enticing them by offering very low fares for a normally expensive time of year.

What changes have airlines made to improve safety?

The World Health Organization recommends that you wash your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, sanitize surfaces around you, keep a distance of at least 6 feet from anyone, and wear a mask to protect yourself and others. 

To help curb the spread of the illness, airlines have implemented additional cleaning protocols. Some airlines are blocking middle seats, notifying passengers when their flight will be full, and boarding from the back to the front to minimize passenger interaction.

Beginning in early May, airlines are also requiring passengers and crew to wear a mask or other face covering while flying. American, Alaska, Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit, and United are all requiring passengers to wear face coverings. Policies vary by airline, but there are some exceptions for children and those with medical conditions. Some airlines are providing masks while others require passengers to bring their own.

Here are links to the safety policies for US airlines: 

For more tips, read the WHO's guidelines, or read how to properly disinfect your airplane seat. For updates while you travel, enroll in STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) which sends automated health and safety alerts for the country you’re visiting. 

Should I cancel my upcoming travel plans?

We know right now is not a good time to travel internationally. And you may not have much of a choice, as many countries around the world have placed restrictions on foreign visitors and many airlines are operating only a small portion of their usual flights (with many routes temporarily suspended).

As the US begins to reopen, domestic travel is becoming more of an option, but there are still some things to consider for your own safety and the safety of people you come in contact with. Wash your hands and wear a mask. Even if you personally are low-risk, we’re fighting this virus as a society.

It's also harder to know if we'll be able to travel in a few months. If you want to make future travel plans—like us, you may be dreaming of future travels while we’re all isolating in place—it’s best to do so well in the future and on an airline that is waiving change fees, in case the outlook hasn’t improved by the time your trip comes around.

If you're hoping to take a trip you've planned for later this year or early next year, there's no harm in waiting to decide. Best case scenario is that you get to go. If not, the airline may end up canceling your flight, in which case you're entitled to a cash refund for the fare (instead of a credit or voucher).

How can I get money back from a canceled flight?

If the airline cancels your flight, they may offer a full refund, or they may offer you a voucher to use for a future flight. However, if your canceled flight was to or from the US (on any airline) you’re actually owed a cash refund if you want one. 

According to the Department of Transportation, "If your flight is canceled and you choose to cancel your trip as a result, you are entitled to a refund for the unused transportation—even for non-refundable tickets."

This is also true for flights with significant schedule changes. If an airline significantly changes your flight times—or switches you from a nonstop to connecting flight—you’re owed a refund.

When you buy a ticket and you click the terms & conditions box, both you and the airline are agreeing to the airline’s contract of carriage. One detail in virtually all of them is that passengers are eligible for a refund if there’s a “major schedule change.” Sadly, few airlines are proactively informing passengers.

What constitutes a “major schedule change”? Generally, about 2 hours. If you had a 9am flight and it got switched to 11:30am, you would be eligible for a refund. Same if there’s a big change in the arrival time.

The new change policies that the airlines have enacted apply to basic economy tickets too. If the airline cancels your flight (as lots of them are doing right now) you're entitled to a cash refund if you prefer that to a voucher, even if you had a basic economy ticket.

Refunds apply even if you booked an award ticket using points/miles. First, if an airline cancels a flight that you'd booked using miles, then you are supposed to receive (A) Your miles back and (B) Any taxes/fees back (in cash, not a travel voucher). Second, if you decide to cancel an award ticket on an existing flight, you can cancel on most US airlines without a penalty. Normally airlines charge a "redeposit fee" to cancel an award ticket and get your miles back, anywhere from $25 to $100+. But Alaska, American, Delta, jetBlue, and Southwest are waiving redeposit fees on award tickets, as long as travel is during the upcoming period they're waiving change fees on (which varies by airline). These policies apply depending on whose miles you used, not which carrier you were to fly.

If the airline offers you a voucher, you can cite the DOT regulation and ask for a cash refund instead.

If they won’t budge, your best first course of action is to hang up and try again. Agents often have discretion about who gets refunds. Many times you will have better luck with one agent than another. Be friendly and remember the agent isn’t to blame. Next, you can file a complaint with the DOT and you can contest the charge on your credit card. Since you didn’t get the service you paid for (and it was the airline who canceled the flight, not you) your credit card or bank would likely institute a chargeback. 

If the airline has not canceled your flight—and isn’t offering free changes for your travel dates or destination—we recommend you wait as long as possible to cancel. Here’s why. 

Let’s say you have a flight in February and you want to cancel, but the airline has only extended free changes to December 30. If you cancel now, the airline will charge you a hefty cancelation fee. However, if you wait, the airline may end up canceling the flight (or at least waiving change fees) as it gets closer to your departure date. As stated above, if the airline cancels the flight, they owe you a refund. 

You can cancel a ticket essentially up until the day of travel, so there’s no sense in canceling early and paying a fee. The longer you wait, the greater chance the airline will extend its refund window or cancel your flight altogether.

Finally, hold times are horrendous right now, but they’re far less horrendous if you call international ticket offices. Most US airlines’ main customer service numbers have hour-long holds right now. If it’s urgent, call one of the airline’s foreign offices instead. (Cell phone rates may apply, so it might be cheaper on Skype depending on your plan.) Each airline has offices in tons of other English-speaking countries, from Canada to UK to Singapore, and the agents there can help with your reservation just like US-based ones can. For US-based airlines, their international offices go relatively underutilized, so wait times may be shorter.

How can I make new plans with any confidence?

Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of certainty in travel right now. We don’t know how the pandemic will play out so booking travel is going to include some element of risk for the foreseeable future. Here’s how to limit that risk. 

Only book tickets that can be changed for free. 

Most airlines are enticing travelers to book by promising that if it’s not safe to travel come departure time, you can change your ticket for free (though you’ll still have to pay any fare difference if the new date is more expensive). We’re highlighting these policies in the deals we send our members. 

Don’t book any nonrefundable hotels, train tickets, or tours until closer to departure when you’re pretty confident the trip will happen. 

Even then, hedging your bets with refundable bookings—even if they cost a bit more—may be worth it. And book these items with a credit card with travel protections so that if your trip is canceled or disrupted, you can get some money back. 

Know your rights. 

As mentioned above, if the airline cancels your flight, you’re entitled to a cash refund (not just a voucher or credit). 

Prepare for uncertainty. 

Understand things may change multiple times before your trip. Countries that currently have few cases may see surges, while countries dealing with larger outbreaks now may make big improvements. Borders could open or close and flights could get canceled or rescheduled. 

You may not know if you're going to be able to go until a week or two from departure. And remember, whether or not you'll be able to travel is dependent not only on where you are going, but also the countries you're traveling from and any places you're connecting through. It’s also not just about you and whether you’re worried about contracting the virus; it’s about the odds that you might infect others—particularly in vulnerable places with fewer resources. 

What destinations can I visit now?

Beginning in early March, dozens of countries around the world—including the US—began shutting their borders to international visitors and/or requiring quarantine for arriving visitors. Most of those travel restrictions are still in place.

In the US, some states have also begun to lift restrictions and some National Parks have reopened, making domestic travel an enticing thought. The situation can vary county to county within each state though. 

Whether you’re looking to travel domestically or internationally in the coming months, here are some things to consider when exploring your destination options. 

  1. Does the destination require a quarantine upon arrival. In some places, breaking mandatory quarantine for visitors can result in fines or even jail time. 
  1. Does the destination have an active shelter-in-place order. If the destination is under an active shelter-in-place order, it’s not the place for a leisure trip right now. Stick to counties or cities that do not have restrictions on non-essential travel. Unfortunately, it’s on you to know the local status. Hotels in a region might be open even if the local government has restrictions in place. 
  1. Are things open in the destination? Even if there’s no quarantine or shelter-in-place order, if the things that you’d do in the destination—museums or park you’d visit, restaurants you’d dine at—are all closed, you may not get much enjoyment from visiting. 
  1. Does the destination have the resources to support visitors right now. It’s not just about you and whether you’re worried about contracting the virus. You could be an unwitting carrier and spread the virus in a place with limited resources to treat residents who become ill. 

The New York Times has a good country-by-country list of where Americans can go now. There's also this tool which allows you to input your country of residence and see which countries are imposing travel restrictions on visitors from your country.