WHICH AIRLINES HAVE TRAVELER-FRIENDLY AIRFARE POLICIES?

Safe Travel Barometer Tracks Airfare Policies of 300 Airlines Worldwide

A handful of airlines led the way in customer satisfaction by issuing refunds or credits for future bookings during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Airlines have upended their traditional airfare policies and are issuing full refunds for flight reservations and cancellations. Safe Travel Barometer performed an independent analysis of base airfare policies of 299 airlines, and the findings may surprise you.

Airfare Policies: Increasing Flexibility… Or Not?

With regulatory interventions across countries through the pandemic to protect consumer interests, airlines were forced to introduce a series of passenger relief measures. As a result of the travel restrictions, several airlines rolled-out flexible COVID-19 cancellation and rebooking policies to help travelers adjust their plans.

Some airlines also offered vouchers valid for a certain time span that could be accessible in the future. Atlanta-based In the case of its North American counterpart, Air Canada, the full value of a cancelled ticket could be transferred to an Air Canada Travel Voucher, without any expiration clause.

Airlines are also offering fee waivers on flight changes, or cancellations in exchange for non-refundable travel vouchers. Some are also extending these policies to cover new bookings, so travelers also have the flexibility to cancel further down the line. Timeframes and details, of course, vary from airline to airline.

At Emirates, passengers can raise a refund request within 36 months from the date of the original booking without incurring additional charges being applied. However, this option can only be availed if the ticket has been booked before April 1, 2021 for travel on or before May 31, 2022. Germany-based Eurowings is among carriers which have waived additional charges on rebooking for all existing bookings until April 30, 2022. It also granted non-refundable travel vouchers that will be valid till three years from date of voucher issuance.

Full Refund… Only If?

With airlines updating their airfare policies, some are layering conditions based on specific circumstances. For instance, Etihad Airways only permits refund if the traveler has a positive COVID-19 PCR test result, following which a request for refund could be raised between 24-96 hours before the flight departure. Also, if travel is restricted by government regulations a refund could be requested 14 days before the flight departure.

Table: Airlines with the most Flexible Cancellation and Rebooking Policies, August 2021

AirlineCountryCancellation PolicyRebooking Policy
Air CanadaCanadaCredit Shell Which Never ExpiresSector Change Allowed Within 24 Months of Original Purchase
Air FranceFranceCredit Shell Valid till March 2022Sector Change Allowed Valid till the Day of Departure of Your First Flight
Air New ZealandNew ZealandCredit Shell Valid till 12 Months from BookingDate Change Allowed Within 355 Days
Air TransatCanadaCredit Shell Which Never Expires and is TransferableSector Change Allowed with No Expiry
AirAsiaMalaysiaFull RefundSector Change Allowed Before November 30, 2021
All Nippon AirwaysJapanFull RefundSector Change Allowed Before December 23, 2021
British AirwaysU.K.Credit Shell Valid till September 30, 2023Sector Change Allowed Within September 30, 2023
Cathay PacificHong KongCredit Shell Valid Before December 31, 2022Sector Change Allowed Within 31 March, 2022
Copa AirlinesPanamaCredit Shell Valid till 12 months From Date of Voucher IssuanceSector Change Allowed Before December 31, 2021
Delta AirlinesU.S.Credit Shell Before December 31, 2022Sector Change Allowed Within December 31, 2022
EmiratesU.A.E.Full RefundSector Change Allowed Within 24 months
Etihad AirwaysU.A.E.Full RefundSector Change Allowed Before March 31, 2022
EurowingsGermanyCredit Shell Valid till Three Years from Date of Voucher IssuanceSector Change Allowed Within April 30, 2022
Garuda IndonesiaIndonesiaCredit Shell Valid till December 31, 2022Date Change Allowed Within September 30, 2021
IberiaSpainCredit Shell Valid till December 31, 2022Date Change Allowed Multiple Times
Japan AirlinesJapanFull RefundDate Change Allowed Within September 30, 2021
JetBlue AirwaysU.S.Credit Shell Valid till One Year from Issued DateSector Change Allowed till 12 Months from Date of Issue
Lion AirIndonesiaCredit Shell Valid till One Year from Issued DateSector Change Allowed Within One Year from Issued Date
Malaysia AirlinesMalaysiaCredit Shell Valid till December 31, 2022Date Change Allowed Within December 30, 2021
Oman AirOmanCredit Shell Valid till 12 months From Date of Voucher IssuanceSector Change Allowed Within December 31, 2021
Qantas AirwaysAustraliaCredit Shell Valid till December 31, 2023Sector Change Allowed Within December 31, 2023
Rossiya AirlinesRussiaFull RefundSector Change Allowed
Royal Air MarocMoroccoCredit Shell Valid till 12 months From Date of Voucher IssuanceSector Change Allowed Without any Restriction on Destination, Issue Date or Travel Date
SAS – Scandinavian AirlinesSwedenCredit Shell Valid till 12 months From Date of Voucher IssuanceDate Change Allowed Within 361 Days
Southwest AirlinesU.S.Full RefundSector Change Allowed with No Expiry
SpiceJetIndiaCredit Shell Valid till March 31, 2022Date Change Allowed Once Within the Booked Sector
Turkish AirlinesTurkeyFull RefundSector Change Allowed Within March 31, 2022
United AirlinesU.S.Full RefundSector Change Allowed Within December 31, 2021
Virgin AtlanticU.K.Credit Shell Valid till April 30, 2023Sector Change Allowed Before April 30, 2023
WestJetCanadaCredit Shell Valid till 24 Months from Flight Cancellation DateSector Change Allowed with No Expiry

View more about airfare policies on Safe Travel Barometer’s Airline Dashboard

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