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Coronavirus Flight Cancellation: Your Air Passenger Rights

Many countries are restricting 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 canceled 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 canceled due to the coronavirus? Check your flight below.

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What happens after a coronavirus flight cancellation?

If your flight has been canceled due to coronavirus you are entitled to:

  • A full refund of your ticket

or

  • 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 due to a coronavirus flight cancellation?

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 after a coronavirus flight cancellation?

If your flight was canceled 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? Do I get airline refunds due to coronavirus?

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 canceled flights?

Flights that have been canceled 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 canceled 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.

Other commonly asked questions about flights affected by coronavirus

What options do I have if I want to cancel my flight as a precaution?

Airlines have different policies for cancelling flights, so the easiest way to find is to visit the airline’s website or to contact them directly. Some may offer special refunds, while others won’t or there are non-refundable tickets.

What are my rights regarding indemnity in case of flight cancellation due to coronavirus?

If you have travel insurance, check if you have indemnity in case of cancellation due to coronavirus. Since policies vary, it is best to ask your insurance provider if this is something they cover. As for your rights, flight cancellations due to coronavirus fall under extraordinary circumstances and are therefore not eligible for compensation by law. However, you are still entitled to care, including free food and drink, transportation, and accommodation if needed.

Can I be reimbursed for hotels, activities, and other expenses if my flight has been canceled by Covid-19?

If you want to be reimbursed for hotels, activities, and other expenses, it is best to contact your provider to see what reimbursement options are available to you. When a flight is canceled, your compensation typically helps cover some of the costs lost due to the disruption. Unfortunately, since delays or cancellations caused by Covid-19 fall under extraordinary circumstances, the airline in this case does not owe you compensation, as they are not considered at fault. If you are an AirHelp+ member, we may also be able to assist you in claiming back costs.

Can my travel insurance help with Covid-19 flight cancellations?

Not all travel insurance covers pandemic and endemic travel restrictions and policies vary. However, many insurance providers are expanding their coverage to take into account pandemics, so be sure to check with your provider to be sure.

What happens to my flight if there is a coronavirus outbreak?

If there is a coronavirus outbreak and countries move to restrict travel, your flight may be cancelled. If you were in a foreign city or country when the cancellation happened, most will allow you to return home on a replacement flight, though you may also need to consider alternative methods of transport. Depending on what’s required, you may also need to undergo health checks, show a recent negative test, or be quarantined.

Can I claim if my flight is full and don’t want to risk catching Covid-19?

Generally speaking, you cannot claim compensation if you choose to no longer fly. If you decide not to travel due to coronavirus, contact your airline to find out what their refund policy is, and if they have any specific guidelines related to Covid-19 outbreaks.

My flight was cancelled due to lack of occupancy, and the airline cites coronavirus as the reason. Am I entitled to compensation?

In some cases, you may be entitled to compensation if the airline cancels your flight less than 14 days before departure. Though coronavirus is considered an extraordinary circumstance and is not eligible for compensation, lack of occupancy due to low demand is not. This might be an operational reason. Since it can be difficult to figure out if the flight was canceled due to travel restrictions or simply poor flight ticket sales, you can use our Compensation Check to see if you are eligible.

What can I do if the airline or travel agency canceled my flight because of coronavirus?

The first thing you should do is to ask for a refund on your flight tickets, or ask for an alternative flight if you still choose to travel. Coronavirus falls under extraordinary circumstances, which means that the airline is not at fault for the disruption and is not required to pay compensation. If you are an AirHelp+ member, we can also assist you with flight refunds.

Can I get a refund if my flight was canceled by coronavirus? Can I also get a refund on other expenses such as my accommodations, events, and other expenses?

Yes. It is possible to get a refund on your flight ticket if your flight was canceled. As for the the loss of any other expenses, such as hotel reservations, contact your hotel to find out what their policies are. If you are an AirHelp+ member, we may also be able to assist you in claiming back costs.

What are the Covid-19 travel restrictions in the UK?

Travel restrictions in the UK are constantly changing depending on the number of infections and the pace of the Covid-19 vaccination drive. The best way to check for the latest updates on travel restrictions to visit the UK government website.

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.