Around 50 million Americans plan to travel for Thanksgiving this year, according to AAA. While AAA based its forecast model in mid-October, the company didn’t account for the current coronavirus surge. Last week, there was an average of 140,984 Covid-19 cases per day, an increase of 76% from the average two weeks earlier, according to The New York Times. Due to the second wave, many people are worried about Thanksgiving travel plans and reconsidering trips to keep their families safe. But can you get a flight refund for Thanksgiving travel due to the surge in Covid-19 cases?
It depends on the airline.
Most airlines will issue you a credit or voucher with no fee, but not all airlines are created equal, so take a look at who will waive major fees around Thanksgiving flight cancellations or changes.
Delta Air Lines waived change fees to give travelers flexibility through the end of the year. The airline also permanently eliminated the change fees for domestic tickets. This is beneficial for travelers and offer peace of mind when booking tickets during Covid-19.
Any passenger can change and cancel their flight for no extra fee if their travels were impacted by Covid-19. This means that even if you’re uncertain of future travel plans due to the surge in Covid-19 cases, you can cancel and rebook your new trip when you have your travel plans confirmed. Delta will issue you an eCredit for the value of your ticket so use for a later flight. So while you don’t receive a refund to your credit card, you lose no value in that ticket with any fare difference or fees associated with changes.
American Airlines has eliminated all change fees on tickets booked for U.S. travel after August 31, 2020. The change fees eliminated only apply to First, Business, Premium Economy and Main Cabin, so if you booked Basic Economy, it doesn’t not apply to you.
For flights booked before August 31, you’re only allowed one time for the change fee waiver; any changes after that, you’ll be charged.
What if you need to cancel your trip? The value of your ticket will remain as a flight credit. However, while American Airlines will honor the full value of your original ticket for a later flight, you will need to pay the fare difference.
This can be a good thing or a bad thing. If your original flight cost you $500, and the new flight you want to rebook costs $300, you’ll receive $200 in travel credit for a future trip. However, if the new flight cost $600, you’ll have to pay an extra $100.
For any trip rebooking, you need to call the airline reservations rather than rebook online.
United is offering passengers cancellations or changes without a fee on tickets purchased through December 31, 2020 — though a difference in fare may apply.
The airline’s refund policy is vague and somewhat complicated. Essentially, if you need to request a refund, you must fill out a refund form and make a case, and United determines your fate.
If your travel plans have been impacted by COVID-19, depending on the severity of the schedule disruption, you may be eligible for a refund on United. Depending on the type of ticket and disruption, you may be offered a future flight credit or a refund back to the original form of payment.
Jetblue is waiving all change and cancellation fees for customers with existing bookings through Feb. 28, 202. For cancellations, passengers will receive a credit valid for 12 months, and should they want to rebook, they may have to pay the difference in cost between the original ticket and the new fare.
Allegiant is offering a one-time change in travel plans without any change or cancellation fees, valid for one year from original purchase date, though passengers many have to pay difference in faire. Customers will receive a credit for a voucher valid for 2 years should they cancel their trip. Alaska will also waive change and cancellation fees but passengers must reuse their new ticket within a year. Spirit is also waiving all change and cancellation fees for the remainder of the year. If you cancel your flight, you will receive a full purchase price reservation credit.
Frontier is the only U.S. airline that is not waiving last-minute cancellation or change fees. A $79 change fee applies to tickets 59-14 days before departure and $119 for changes 13 days before departure. If passengers booked their ticket between July 2 and July 31, they may make one change without a fee if the change is 7 days before departure date.
Keep in mind that every major airline requires masks or face coverings. With the surge in Covid-19 cases, you should also be aware many states and destinations have new travel requirements and guidelines, including 14 day quarantines or lockdowns. For instance, New Mexico has enforced a two-week shutdown as of November 13, 2020.
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