How To Re-Book Travel If You’re Affected By Coronavirus

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The coronacrisis has caused a real headache for many travelers. Personally, I’ve had to cancel or postpone at least five trips. However, if you’re faced with having to cancel or postpone a trip what should you do? Simple Flying investigates.

Qatar Airways Getty
What should you do if your travel plans are disrupted by coronavirus? Photo: Getty

Many companies are being flexible

Many companies are being incredibly flexible when it comes to modifying bookings. In fact, some are even rewarding customers for rebooking. The majority of major airlines and hotel chains have fairly relaxed policies in place.

However, at least as far as airlines are concerned, many are asking passengers to not contact them unless due to travel within 72 hours in order to keep the phone lines free for others.

Lufthansa has been giving passengers who rebook their flights a €50 travel credit. Meanwhile, Qatar is giving 10% bonuses to those who chose a travel voucher as opposed to a refund. Both a refund and a travel credit have different positives and negatives.

Qatar Airways A350 Getty
Qatar is hoping to preserve cash by rewarding customers who wish to cancel their flights. Photo: Getty

Despite this, some people aren’t having the luck expected when trying to rebook travel or obtain refunds. This is proving to be the case especially when travel is booked through a third party. Let’s take a look at some examples.

Lufthansa flights booked through Expedia

‘H’ was due to fly to Frankfurt just after the country had said that it would stop accepting tourists. Now, Lufthansa’s policy is fairly open meaning that this should’ve been an easy change. However, as they booked with Expedia, the change needed to be processed by them.

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This is where the difficulty starts. After an incredibly long phone call with Expedia the day before they were due to travel, H was told that, as the fare was non-refundable, only airport taxes such as APD could be refunded.

Lufthansa tails getty images
H had trouble rebooking a Lufthansa flight booked through Expedia. Photo: Getty

H spoke to a manager who confirmed that this was the case, in direct contradiction of government travel advice and Lufthansa’s own policy. H did everything right and should’ve been allowed to rebook.

We contacted Expedia regarding H’s case. The company told us:

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“We are deeply sorry. We are working 24/7 to manage unprecedented volumes to take care of our customers in the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation. In this instance, the customer is entitled to a credit to use for future flights with Lufthansa on Expedia.co.uk and we will be in contact with the customer with the specifics. For other Expedia customers looking for information on upcoming travel, we encourage them to visit this site for information.”

Hilton hotel booked through Agoda

‘A’ had booked to stay in the Munich Airport Hilton during a 14-hour layover. He had assumed that this would be possible, however, at the border he was denied entry to Germany. He tried to get the booking refunded with both Hilton and Agoda with no luck.

A noticed that on the Hilton corporate website it says,

“In regions affected by government-issued travel restrictions, we will continue to waive change fees or offer full refunds.”

However, both Hilton and Agoda still refused to refund the booking.

Southwest takes off from DIA
A had difficulty securing a refund from the Hilton Munich Airport booked through Agoda. Photo: Getty

We reached out to both Hilton and Agoda regarding this. While Agoda didn’t reply to our request, Hilton clarified that as A did not provide at least 24 hours’ notice before canceling the booking, they were not eligible for a refund despite travel restrictions.

What should you do?

As the first port of call, you should view your airline or hotel’s website where they should list their relevant coronavirus policies. Here they should also advise of the next steps, for example, they may tell you not to call unless you’re due to fly within 72 hours.

If instructed to call the airline, please remember that there is a human at the other end of the line. If things aren’t going how you want, you shouldn’t take it out on them. Instead, if you feel that you are genuinely getting the wrong answer, ask for your case to be escalated to a manager. There may, however, be a long wait due to increased call volumes.

European airlines coronavirus
Most airlines have flexible policies in place. Photo: Getty Images

If you still don’t get what you believe is a fair outcome, you could try contacting the company via email and explaining why you think it is unfair. A response will likely take a while, and you shouldn’t do this unless you genuinely feel your case has been handled incorrectly. Every email received will add to the wait time for others.

Have you been able to rebook your travel due to coronavirus, or have you faced similar hurdles? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Simple Flying is unable to help individuals with booking requests like the examples mentioned in this article.

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