Flights Affected by Coronavirus: Your Air Passenger Rights
Updated 17 March 2020
Many countries have restricted travel to slow down the spread of the new coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease called Covid-19. This has led to mass cancellations of flights around the globe to help combat its transmission. Though these cancelled flights are not eligible for compensation, as an air passenger, you still have rights. Read on to find out more.
Not sure if your flight was cancelled due to the coronavirus? Check your flight below.
What happens if a flight was cancelled by coronavirus?
If your flight has been cancelled due to coronavirus you are entitled to:
- A full refund of your ticket
- An alternative flight (once the flights are rescheduled).
As the coronavirus situation is classified as an extraordinary circumstance, it is outside of the scope of airlines’ control, and thus, they are not obliged to offer compensation. This includes flights to and from any areas affected by a travel warning or ban.
Airlines must abide by travel restrictions, as well as protect the health and safety of their passengers and crew.
What happens if I am stranded at the airport?
If you’re stranded at the airport because of a cancellation you may also be entitled to care from your airline, including:
- Food and drink.
- Access to communication.
- Hotel accommodation where necessary.
These are rights as laid out by European regulation EC 261, and apply to passengers departing from an EU airport. However, outside of the EU, these rights may vary.
How do I return home if I am stuck in another country?
If your flight was cancelled due to coronavirus while you were in a foreign city or country, you may still ask for a replacement flight, even where travel bans are in place. However, as the availability of replacement flights may be affected, you may need to consider alternative methods of transport.
Most countries will allow you to return home if you are a resident, though they may require you to undergo several health checks or be quarantined to ensure that you are healthy.
Where can I ask for a new ticket if the airline or travel agency is unresponsive?
Please be patient, as many airlines and travel companies are currently overwhelmed with requests and may take some time before they can accommodate you.
If your airline or travel agent is unresponsive, do check what advice they have on their website. Many airlines are allowing you to make changes to your tickets yourself online via their app or website.
You may also find they have already answered your question in their FAQs or on Social Media.
When am I still entitled to compensation for cancelled flights?
Flights that have been cancelled because of the current coronavirus travel restrictions don’t qualify for compensation, as it is considered an extraordinary circumstance, which means that it’s outside of the scope of airlines’ control.
But flights cancelled for other reasons, for example, because of a technical issue or operational problems, are still eligible for compensation just as they would be normally. AirHelp will be assessing claims not directly related to coronavirus on a case-by-case basis, so if you think your flight may be eligible for compensation, find out how much you’re owed with our Compensation Checker.
What if I no longer want to fly?
Many airlines have announced special measures allowing passengers to change their flights on their websites. If you decide not to travel due to the coronavirus, you should contact your airline to find out what their refund policy is, or to see if they have specific guidelines covering the outbreak.
How do I protect myself against coronavirus on flights?
It’s recommended that all unnecessary air travel should be suspended. However, if you do need to catch a flight, be sure to practice good hygiene by washing your hands frequently, and to comply with general health regulations to avoid contracting the disease. Visit the World Health Organization’s (WHO) site to find out more about how you can protect yourself.
AirHelp is here to help air passengers, even in times of crisis. Rest assured, we will continue to protect your rights. Let’s keep working together as a community to stay safe and healthy.