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
|Airline||Country||Cancellation Policy||Rebooking Policy|
|Air Canada||Canada||Credit Shell Which Never Expires||Sector Change Allowed Within 24 Months of Original Purchase|
|Air France||France||Credit Shell Valid till March 2022||Sector Change Allowed Valid till the Day of Departure of Your First Flight|
|Air New Zealand||New Zealand||Credit Shell Valid till 12 Months from Booking||Date Change Allowed Within 355 Days|
|Air Transat||Canada||Credit Shell Which Never Expires and is Transferable||Sector Change Allowed with No Expiry|
|AirAsia||Malaysia||Full Refund||Sector Change Allowed Before November 30, 2021|
|All Nippon Airways||Japan||Full Refund||Sector Change Allowed Before December 23, 2021|
|British Airways||U.K.||Credit Shell Valid till September 30, 2023||Sector Change Allowed Within September 30, 2023|
|Cathay Pacific||Hong Kong||Credit Shell Valid Before December 31, 2022||Sector Change Allowed Within 31 March, 2022|
|Copa Airlines||Panama||Credit Shell Valid till 12 months From Date of Voucher Issuance||Sector Change Allowed Before December 31, 2021|
|Delta Airlines||U.S.||Credit Shell Before December 31, 2022||Sector Change Allowed Within December 31, 2022|
|Emirates||U.A.E.||Full Refund||Sector Change Allowed Within 24 months|
|Etihad Airways||U.A.E.||Full Refund||Sector Change Allowed Before March 31, 2022|
|Eurowings||Germany||Credit Shell Valid till Three Years from Date of Voucher Issuance||Sector Change Allowed Within April 30, 2022|
|Garuda Indonesia||Indonesia||Credit Shell Valid till December 31, 2022||Date Change Allowed Within September 30, 2021|
|Iberia||Spain||Credit Shell Valid till December 31, 2022||Date Change Allowed Multiple Times|
|Japan Airlines||Japan||Full Refund||Date Change Allowed Within September 30, 2021|
|JetBlue Airways||U.S.||Credit Shell Valid till One Year from Issued Date||Sector Change Allowed till 12 Months from Date of Issue|
|Lion Air||Indonesia||Credit Shell Valid till One Year from Issued Date||Sector Change Allowed Within One Year from Issued Date|
|Malaysia Airlines||Malaysia||Credit Shell Valid till December 31, 2022||Date Change Allowed Within December 30, 2021|
|Oman Air||Oman||Credit Shell Valid till 12 months From Date of Voucher Issuance||Sector Change Allowed Within December 31, 2021|
|Qantas Airways||Australia||Credit Shell Valid till December 31, 2023||Sector Change Allowed Within December 31, 2023|
|Rossiya Airlines||Russia||Full Refund||Sector Change Allowed|
|Royal Air Maroc||Morocco||Credit Shell Valid till 12 months From Date of Voucher Issuance||Sector Change Allowed Without any Restriction on Destination, Issue Date or Travel Date|
|SAS – Scandinavian Airlines||Sweden||Credit Shell Valid till 12 months From Date of Voucher Issuance||Date Change Allowed Within 361 Days|
|Southwest Airlines||U.S.||Full Refund||Sector Change Allowed with No Expiry|
|SpiceJet||India||Credit Shell Valid till March 31, 2022||Date Change Allowed Once Within the Booked Sector|
|Turkish Airlines||Turkey||Full Refund||Sector Change Allowed Within March 31, 2022|
|United Airlines||U.S.||Full Refund||Sector Change Allowed Within December 31, 2021|
|Virgin Atlantic||U.K.||Credit Shell Valid till April 30, 2023||Sector Change Allowed Before April 30, 2023|
|WestJet||Canada||Credit Shell Valid till 24 Months from Flight Cancellation Date||Sector Change Allowed with No Expiry|
View more about airfare policies on Safe Travel Barometer’s Airline Dashboard
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