Coronavirus Travel Resources

Due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, countries have varying requirements for entry and man airlines continue to offer free changes on future flights so travelers can book with confidence. 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: August 6, 2021
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
New travel must commence:
by December 31, 2021
Complete rules.

Aeromexico

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
Applicable travel dates:
any
New travel must commence:
any time
Does not apply to basic economy. Read the complete rules here. 

Air Canada

No change fee for tickets purchased: through July 31, 2021
New travel must commence:
no end date.
Note: Unlimited changes until July 31, 2021. One free change thereafter
Read the complete rules here. 

Air France

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
Applicable travel dates:
December 31, 2021
Read the complete rules here. 

Air Tahiti Nui

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
New travel must commence: by May 31, 2022
Changes must be made by July 5, 2021. Complete rules.

Alaska Airlines

No change fee for tickets purchased: through April 30, 2021
Applicable travel dates:
one year from original travel date.
Read the complete rules here. 

American Airlines

No change fee for tickets purchased: through March 31, 2021 for all tickets; any dates for domestic and short-haul international fares above basic economy
Applicable travel dates:
any
New travel must commence: anytime
Read the complete rules here.

ANA

No change fee for tickets purchased: by September 30, 2021
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

Asiana

No change fee for tickets purchased: by October 31, 2021
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: any time
New travel must commence: by April 30, 2022
Read the complete rules here. 

Brussels Airlines

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

Cathay Pacific

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

Copa

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

Delta Air Lines

No change fee for tickets purchased: through 2021 for basic economy; any dates for domestic or international 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: any
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

Ethiopian

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

Etihad

No change fee for tickets purchased: by September 30, 2021
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

Finnair

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

French Bee

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

GOL

No change fee for tickets purchased: before January 1, 2021.
Complete rules.

Hawaiian

No change fee for tickets purchased: by April 30, 2021 for basic economy, anytime for main cabin and above
New travel must commence: within 12 months from date of purchase
Complete rules.

Icelandair

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
New travel must commence: within 12 months from date of purchase
Read the complete rules here. 

Japan Airlines

No change fee for tickets purchased: by September 30, 2021
New travel must commence:
within 360 days of date of issue
Complete rules.

JetBlue

No change or cancellation fee for tickets purchased: through May 31, 2021 on all fares. For flights booked after June 1, there's no change or cancellation fees for Blue, Blue Plus and Mint fares. Basic fares can be changed or cancelled for a $100 fee for travel within the US, Caribbean, Mexico or Central America, or $200 for all other routes.
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: any
Applicable travel dates:
any
New travel must commence: Vouchers issued on or after January 1, 2021, will be valid for 1 year after the date of issue.
Read the complete rules here. 

Korean Air

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime
New travel must commence: June 30, 2022
Complete rules.

LATAM

No change fee for tickets purchased: after October 1, 2020
New travel must commence: anytime.
Unlimited changes until June 30, 2021, only one change allowed after July 1, 2021. Complete rules.

Level

No change fee for tickets purchased: For bookings after December 22, 2020, If you book a Light fare, you must pay an extra fee for a Flexible Ticket.
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

LOT

No change fee for tickets purchased: July 31, 2021
New travel must commence: within one year of ticket issue.
Complete rules.

Lufthansa

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

Qatar Airways

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

Royal Air Maroc

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

Silver Airways

No change fee for tickets purchased: anytime but applies only to “Freedom Fares” (regular economy). Change fee of $50 for domestic/$100 for international applies to basic economy tickets.
New travel must commence: anytime
Complete rules.

Singapore Airlines

No change fee for tickets purchased: by September 30, 2021
New travel must commence: within 12 months from original ticket date
Complete rules.

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: by July 31, 2021
New travel must commence: within one year from original departure date
Read the complete rules here. 

TAP Air Portugal

No change fee for tickets purchased: by September 30, 2021
New travel must commence: within travel validity.
One free change per reservation, must be made 3 days in advance. Not valid on TAP Discount fares.
Read the complete rules here. 

Turkish

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

United

No change fee for tickets purchased: any for domestic and international flights (on economy fares or higher); through 2021 for basic economy
Applicable travel dates:
any
New travel must commence: within 24 months of the original ticket issue date
Read the complete rules here. 

WestJet

No change fee for tickets purchased: through July 31, 2021
Applicable travel dates:
within 24 months of date of issue
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. 

Namely we're putting 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.

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.

Will flight prices rise as more places open?

Airfare has generally been 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.

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. Airlines are also requiring passengers and crew to wear a mask or other face covering while flying.

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. 

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.

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 2020, 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, however much of Europe and the Caribbean has since reopened.

A handful of countries are already open to American travelers without any testing, quarantine, or vaccination requirements for entry. These include:

  • Mexico
  • Costa Rica
  • Albania
  • Dominican Republic
  • North Macedonia
  • Netherlands
  • Tanzania
  • Belgium
  • Czechia
  • Spain

Several more countries have also announced that Americans who have been fully vaccinated can visit today and dozens more are currently open to American travelers as well—especially throughout the Caribbean and Latin America—but require a recent negative test.

You can see a full list of where Americans can travel now.

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 or curfew order? Are things open in the destination? Stick to countries 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. 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. 
  2. What are the requirements for testing or vaccination? Will you be able to get a test before you go? Currently, everyone returning to the US will also need to get a negative test within 72 hours of arrival so make sure you can get a test in the country you're visiting.

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.

How can I find a Covid test while traveling?

Everyone—even if you’re vaccinated—must get a negative Covid test abroad before you can enter the US.

Re-entry rules 

Thankfully, the testing requirement has a good amount of flexibility built-in. Cheaper and quicker antigen tests are allowed, so you don’t have to spring for the more expensive PCR test. The CDC order also says the test must be done within 3 days—which can be longer than 72 hours. If you depart at 1pm on a Friday, for instance, any test taken Tuesday onwards will be accepted.

Finding a local test

There are a few ways you can find a local test. Googling "covid test in [city]" is a good place to start but if you get overwhelmed with the options, ask your airbnb host or hotel concierge. In popular vacation spots like Cabo and Cancun, many hotels offer on-site testing to guests.

The airlines are also a great resource. Delta, KLM, TAP, and United (and their various alliance partners like SkyTeam and Star Alliance) all have some kind of search tool on their websites. Many airports also have on-site testing centers.

If all else fails, check the embassy’s covid page for your destination. For example, the French embassy’s covid page links to a list of clinics by area in France. 

Allow extra time

Some airlines won't even let you check in for the flight without the test result in hand, which means you need to do your test far enough in advance that you'll get the results, check-in, check luggage if needed, and then get through security to your gate. With 72 hours of wiggle room, scheduling your test for at last a few hours before you flight (if not a full day or two) is the wisest move.

BYO test

Finally, you can bring a self-test with you. These tests need to be supervised by a tele-health professional and only certain tests are approved. The most popular option is the Abbot BinaxNOW kit, which can be bought online (or at CVS locations in a few states).