All the information on the coronavirus outbreak in this article is accurate as of March 13th, 2020. We’ll be sure to update the information as policies change and stories develop.
We’ve recently decided to postpone our Explore, Stay & Play program to Porto Montenegro, which was scheduled to take place in May of 2020. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has broken out, there’s a lot that’s currently going on within the world travel and many questions are left without answers. What should I do about my trip with coronavirus? This is an especially important question if your travel plans involve Europe. The information is changing with each passing day and it’s crucial to take everything into consideration to make an informed decision. This is a situation where there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but rather will vary heavily on a case-to-case basis. In the wake of the developing coronavirus outbreak, we’ve compiled a few important elements that travelers should consider.
Flights & Airlines
According to the US Department of Transportation, if your flight is canceled by an airline, you are eligible for a cash refund. This includes tickets (even non-refundable tickets), baggage fees and any additional perks you may have purchased, such as seat selection. If you still decide to go, most airlines will offer to rebook you for free. If your airline offers you a voucher for future travel instead of a cash refund, it’s important to ask about any restrictions that may apply, expiration dates, advanced booking requirements and limits on the number of seats. The European Union has a similar rule known as Rule 261 that provides refunds for any flights that arrive into, travel through, or depart Europe.
American Airlines has said that passengers who bought tickets before March 1, 2020, and scheduled to travel before April 30 will be allowed to rebook without any fees. Tickets need to be changed and your new travel dates must begin before the end of the year (December 31, 2020). American Airlines has also said that passengers will have to pay for any fare difference. Tickets booked between March 1 and 31, 2020 for any date can also be altered without a fee.
American Airlines is also allowing changes and refunds for tickets to:
- Italy or South Korea purchased on or before February 24, 2020.
- Hong Kong purchased on or before January 28, 2020.
- China bought on or before January 24, 2020.
Delta is another popular airline in the U.S. who is offering flexible cancellation policies for customers affected by travel limitations by cause of COVID-19. Namely, all tickets purchased on or before March 9, 2020, for trips until April 30, 2020, are eligible to change without normal fees. Tickets must be reissued and travel must begin by December 31, 2020.
Tickets purchased between March 1 and 31 for travel until February 25, 2021, are also eligible for changes without incurring any service fees. Delta is also going a step farther and has stated that passengers who’ve reserved trips to coronavirus-affected destinations, including China, South Korea and Italy, before May 31st, 2020 can also be re-booked with waived fees. Alternatively, the airline is giving travelers the option to cancel flights booked on or before March 9, 2020, and your funds will be available for one year from your original ticket’s issue date. Please note that this doesn’t mean that your money will be refunded, or even that you will be able to purchase a new ticket entirely with the funds from your ticket. Fare differences will apply, so if your new flight is more expensive, you’re obligated to pay the difference.
In an effort to further stop the spread of the virus, the White House announced that it would suspend travel from Europe to the U.S. beginning on March 13th, 2020. The most crucial aspect of this developing story is that U.S. citizens and legal residents will be allowed to travel to the United States from Europe. There will be a focus on foreign nationals who have visited Schengen Zone countries that will be affected when traveling from Europe to the United States.
Any U.S. citizen or lawful U.S. permanent resident who is returning to the United States who has traveled to one of the Schengen Area countries within the previous 14 days must enter the country through an approved airport. The list of airports currently processing flights from coronavirus-affected countries are:
- John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
- Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
- San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
- Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
- Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), California
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
- Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia
- Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW), Michigan
Credit Card Travel Insurance
If you had booked our Explore, Stay & Play program to Porto Montenegro, unexpected events such as the coronavirus outbreak speak to the importance of travel insurance. Many credit cards offer trip cancellation coverage, which applies when you pay for travel with a card that has this type of insurance. This generally includes reimbursement for illness and other unexpected events before or during a trip. Most policies cover the cardholder and immediate family members for cancellations. You can cancel if you become seriously ill before or during your trip, but not because of coronavirus threats.
American Express offers Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance on select cards for up to $10,000 per person and up to $20,000 per 12 consecutive month period when your entire trip fare is purchased with your eligible card. Unfortunately, in many cases, if you choose to forgo your trip in the wake of the global pandemic, then you may essentially choose to forgo your insurance as well. The exception to this is that if your physician tells you that your trip is not medically advisable and you let your travel supplier know in time. In the event of quarantine or recommended quarantine, however, you’re entitled to use your insurance. Your next step would be to make a claim with your credit card company.