The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on airlines around the world is unprecedented. As flight schedules continue to be unstable hopping on a plane is not that simple anymore. Being well informed and fiscally prepared for air travel in pandemic is now part of the experience.
The Covid-19 continues to affect flights in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Oceania as it shows no signs of letting go. It keeps airlines on edge with often changes of travel restrictions, policies, and flight availability. So, should we travel, then?
It very much depends on:
- Where we want to travel?
- How necessary is to travel?, and
- Is it a domestic or an international trip?
The U.S. Department of State stays firm to this day. “Do not travel.” reads the health advisory published on the Department’s website. “[ .. ] U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19.”
The pandemic recently resurfaced in most states in the U.S.. Israel currently imposing partial lock-down. Spain tells people in Barcelona to stay home due to surge in new corona-virus cases. India comes third on the global scale with most cases after the U.S and Brazil. According to John Hopkins University as of July 16 India is followed by Russia, Peru, South Africa, Mexico, and Chile.
The U.S. and Europe
U.S. domestic travel slowly reopens (https://www.flight-hunter.com/us-airlines-united-southwest-american-delta-recovery-after-pandemic-to-take-years/ ). Airlines want to start adding more flights in the months of July, August, and onward. However, as the cases of corona virus skyrocketed in States like California, Florida, Texas, and Arizona put a full stop on the airlines plan for flight recovery for the summer and beyond.
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansans, Colorado, and Florida among other states have some restrictions lifted. While Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Main recommend only to travel for work or for essential needs. As a result airlines are need to adjust available flights due to lower demand.
“If you are planning to visit or travel through European countries, we urge you to check the websites of the relevant U.S. embassies or consulates for information on restrictions, foreign quarantine policies, and urgent health information provided by relevant authorities.”, states the websites of the U.S Department of State.
Most European countries have partially or completely opened their borders. Even though the European Union (EU) member countries try to comply with EU directives about travel, it ultimately comes down to each individual country to decide weather or not to allow travelers to enter their territory. In general, country citizens are allowed to enter. However, foreigners are either not allowed or asked to self-quarantine.
Ireland currently asks all foreigners to self-quarantine for 14 days. Italy, one of the most affected by the pandemic opened borders on June 3 to travelers from the EU, the UK, and the Schengen area. Anyone else has to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Italy.
The Council of the EU published information on how it plans to reopen the Union borders for international travel. It tells EU member states they can remove temporary restrictions on non-essential travel into the EU as of July 1.
Find the right information
To make the right decision of whether or not to travel ask yourself the following 2 questions:
- Is is absolutely necessary to travel? If the answer is “Yes” move to the next question;
- What information I need to know for the travel I plan to take?
Find the airline that could take you to your destination as a first step. Use the Flight-hunter’s powerful search engine to see what flights are available and by what airlines. Once you decide on the airline, visit the airlines’ websites and look for information about current flight cancellation and refund policies. (See the list below)
In case the airline cancels the flight, or you decide the health conditions worsen and you no longer feel safe to travel and want to postpone or to cancel your trip, what are the policies that will govern these decision? Getting the right information could be a difficult task.
Apart from contacting the airline via its website, you can use its social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). However, be cautious what information you share online! Airlines’ social media accounts are public and everyone can read your message.
Do not include any personal identifiable information in your posts. Do not share publicly your full name, address, credit card number and expiration date, photo ID or passport information, ticket number, or any other information that can reveal your full identity. Instead, send a direct message to the airline’s social media account – this communication is private.
Use email correspondence, if you are advanced by the airline, or try to ask for a direct phone number to call, However, the wait time may be longer due to high call volume.
Airlines advise passengers calling not earlier then 72 hours and not later then 24 hours prior your flight should you want to change or to cancel your trip.
If the airline cancels your flight, or you’ve changed travel plans what rights do you have?
You need to know that “if your flight is cancelled and you choose to cancel your trip as a result, you are entitled to a refund for the unused transportation – even for non-refundable tickets. You are also entitled to a refund for any bag fee that you paid, and any extras you may have purchased, such as a seat assignment.” says the U.S Department of Transportation.
The EU has similar passenger rights, however, it very much depends in which country the airlines is licensed. “If your flight is operated by a non-EU carrier, you may have rights under the relevant law of the country where the carrier is licensed.” states the official EU website on air travel.
The European Commission provided guidelines on EU passenger rights in late March in the wake of the pandemic in Europe. The guidelines intend to help the passengers, the travel industry, and the national authorities.
Airlines try to accommodate passenger travel situations as much as possible. To offer vouchers for future travel or to re-book passengers is a way to avoid cash reimbursements for travel that was not or cannot be completed.
No matter where you’re in the world contact local consulates or embassies for help.
If you need to contact the U.S. Embassies, the Consulates, or the Diplomatic Missions around the world, here is a list of their websites: https://www.usembassy.gov/
For EU embassies and consulates there is information at this website: https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/national-contact-points/embassies/index_en.htm
List of Airlines
The following is a list of airlines policy websites where you can find information on changing, canceling, or refunding your flight, and on other Covid-19 related topics. As it is hard to list all airlines around the world, here are some of the major ones in:
The U.S and Canada
- Alaska Airlines
- Air Canada
- American Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- United Airlines
- Aer Lingus
- Air Europa
- Air France
- British Airways
- LOT Polish Airlines
- Lufthansa Group: Lufthansa, Austrian, Swiss, Brussels, Air Dolomiti
- Norwegian Airlines
- Scandinavian Airlines
- TAP Air Portugal
- Turkish Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
- Air China
- All Nippon Airways (ANA)
- Asiana Airlines
- Cathay Pacific
- China Eastern Airlines
- EVA Airways
- Japan Airlines (JAL)
- Korean Air
- Malaysia Airlines
- Singapore Airlines