7 Steps to Take Before Canceling or Rescheduling Travel During the Coronavirus

by  Anne Roderique-Jones | Updated on Mar 10, 2020
Woman in airport
Woman in airport / evgenyatamanenko/iStock

As more people become impacted by the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s raising questions and concerns for travelers around the world — including how to proceed with current travel plans and whether or not to book future trips.

Here's everything you need to know before canceling your travel plans due to the coronavirus.

1. Check reliable sources for your destination 

Government websites are continuously updating travel advisories for each country. Check the CDC website for alerts. There are constant changes, but not all countries have been affected in the same way. Check the World Health Organization (WHO) website for daily updates about the spread of COVID-19 and the status of cases.

2. Call, email, or tweet your airline 

Airlines are continuously monitoring travel restrictions. Many (including Delta, American Airlines, and United Airlines) have temporarily canceled all of their mainland China flights due to the outbreak, and have also rescheduled dates to align with capacity needs. Bloomberg reports that carriers such as United Airlines will be redeploying their largest aircrafts to North America — so you’ll likely find some larger, wide-body aircrafts on some domestic flights. Also note, airlines often provide fast and efficient service though their social media channels; Twitter can be an especially speedy customer service platform. 

3. Contact your cruise line

While some cruises have been canceled, some are still sailing. First, be sure to check with your cruise line (especially if you're visiting multiple ports of call). If you have further questions about a specific destination, check the CDC website. Although a majority of cruise lines have yet to cancel sailings, some are allowing travelers to postpone or rebook their trip for a later date. Contact your cruise line directly for more information and practices for future cruises.  

4. Research travel insurance

Standard travel insurance does not cover losses caused by a global health crisis —including COVID-19 — even if the CDC issues an official alert. If you’re considering a cancellation, read your policy thoroughly. As a rule, fear of travel during the outbreak is not covered under most policies, and most insurance plans purchased after the coronavirus became a risk will not cover a claim arising from the virus. For coverage, it’s recommended that travelers purchase a Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) upgrade. Note that this plan can be significantly more expensive than standard insurance, and often only reimburses up to 75% of your covered loss. 

5. Check with your credit card about insurance and cancellation policies 

While a lot of credit cards come with travel insurance packages (which often include cancellation or interruption insurance), they often excludes pandemics. Check with your credit card company to see what — if any — coverage might be included in the event of becoming ill before or during your trip. Be sure to mention a doctor’s note if one is given in an event that travel is not recommended for heath concerns. 

6. Consider rebooking rather than cancelling

Some companies may not offer an option to cancel your trip and receive a refund, but they may allow for travel at a future date in the form of a credit. For example, if you’ve booked a package or tour, the company you’re traveling with may be able to transfer your booking for a later date, rather than canceling the reservation. Hotels might offer more lenient cancellations and date changes, especially if you booked directly through the property. 

7. Follow health and safety precautions while traveling

According to the WHO, all travelers should practice these basic practices to fight transmission of the virus: 

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  •  Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces — this includes airplane seats and tray tables

For more in-depth information, you can read up-to-date information on the coronavirus here

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