Cancelled flights because of Coronavirus – what to do?

2020-03-19

The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and closure of borders by many countries to minimise spread has caused many airlines to cancel most or all flights. Hundreds of thousands of passengers are left with paid tickets wondering what they can do. GIVT’s experts reply:

Because of the global risk to health caused by Coronavirus, flight disruptions, including international flights, should be mostly considered as extraordinary circumstances which, by definition, exempt airlines from liability.

Some countries such as the USA, Australia, India, and Singapore have closed their borders to restrict the flow of people, however not all. If your country has not opted for a border closure then you can apply for compensation under EU Regulation for cancelled and delayed flights. Airlines may be claiming that flight disruption is because of Coronavirus, however the actual reason may be for cost cutting. In this case you may be entitled to compensation.

If you want to check if your flight was cancelled for cost cutting reasons we can help you. Just fill out our short request form so we can provide you with the information.

See full map of countries with closed borders (in red) and still open (in grey):

Situation as at 16 March 2020

Getting a refund or changing flight dates

Unfortunately, passengers with flights cancelled due to Coronavirus are not eligible for compensation under Regulation (EU) 261/2004 as this falls under extraordinary circumstances, however, they may apply for:

  • ticket cost refund or
  • free change of flight dates.

Some airlines may also offer care in the form of food and accommodation.

Wizz Air, for example, has announced that “120 percent of the cost of the original booking will be automatically credited to Wizz Air customer accounts for use for within the next 24 months for any Wizz Air products and services.” Passengers do not have to accept this offer, however and can opt for a full refund of the ticket cost, which Wizz Air says may take more time.

Ryanair issued a statement that passengers would be informed of refund or flight changes options via email. In either case passengers should note the time limits applicable in their country.

In addition to airline websites we recommend using our flight monitoring database to check exactly which flights were cancelled and if your flight is on the list. You can check Wizz Air, easyJet, and British Airways flights amongst others. If you had planned to use any of these airlines you can find a detailed list of cancelled flights on both the GIVT website and the airline’s.

The airline doesn’t want to refund the ticket – what to do?

Despite the airlines offering these three solutions, they try to force passengers to choose a voucher or change of flight dates, making it difficult to get a ticket refund. If you encounter such a difficulty, remember that you are not obliged to accept the alternative solutions offered by the carriers, and you can demand a refund. Carriers should make a payment to your account immediately, however, due to the situation, be patient, as airlines are increasingly reporting late payments.

It’s worth adding the following documents to your ticket refund claim:

  • booking confirmation or
  • electronic ticket.

These documents contain your data, such as name, surname, flight route, flight number and flight date. They are also a confirmation that you purchased the flight.

Repatriation flights for citizens

Stay in touch with your airline. Some airlines like LOT – Polish Airlines are scheduling repatriation flights, return flights for citizens abroad. Keep abreast of your airline’s latest news. If you cannot return home with that airline look for an alternative flight.

In the current circumstances, different airlines have their own regulations for cancelled flight compensation, so it is important to keep up to date of information directly on the airline’s website.

Cancelled package holidays – will I get a refund?

When you purchase a package holiday, as a British citizen you will be protected by ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) or ATOL (Air Travel Organiser’s License), and should then receive:

  • ticket cost refund or
  • free change of flight dates.

If you arranged transport and accommodation separately, please contact your providers directly. There is no single easy way to receive compensation for travel disruption during health emergencies, so be sure to check the relevant information on your provider’s website.

Voluntary flight cancellation

In situations where, for fear of personal safety, you wish to cancel your flight due to Coronavirus and the flight is still scheduled to take place, please be aware that any refunds or free changes of flight dates depend on the General Conditions of Carriage and rules and regulations of each specific airline. Keep abreast of your airline’s policies, especially regarding changes in individual travel policies regarding Coronavirus.

Had problems with a flight?

Check now

Related posts

28.12.2018

Flight Delays – what to do? Keep your eye on the clock – know your rights

Everyone who has ever seen the dreaded ‘DELAYED’ message appear to their next number immediately starts glancing nervously at the time. If you find yourself in such a situation when flying within the European Union or on a flight registered in an EU country, remember that it’s crucial that you record the delay time of…

Read more >
29.12.2018

Compensation for a delayed/cancelled charter flight

Gone are the days of cackling large families squabbling on packed flights to the Canaries, and raucous sun burnt families in sombreros returning back. Once synonymous with cheap package holidays to shoddy hotels in Spain, Greece and Turkey, charter flights nowadays operate more like a regular flight, but with just a single customer, the ticket…

Read more >
26.04.2019

Understanding Extraordinary Circumstances Under EU 261 Regulations

The EU 261 regulations were drafted in 2004 to provide passengers with a clear set of rights covering missed flights. The list is knitted around flight delays, cancellations, and boarding denials caused by circumstances that fall outside passengers’ control. Flight disruptions due to extraordinary circumstances entitle you to compensation to cover your rescheduled flights and other costs….

Read more >
05.06.2019

Compensation for a connecting flight: how much and for which flight?

When you’re travelling at 30,000 feet at ¾ the speed of sound, and you know that you’ve already missed your connecting flight, it can be pretty depressing. You know you’re going to be stuck somewhere that you don’t want to be and the chances of making that next flight are getting less by the minute….

Read more >
14.06.2019

Flight cancellations: a traveller’s biggest fear

Travelling can be liberating, inspiring, and help you recharge your batteries. As a traveller, you probably invest a great deal of time and money planning and booking your trip, so it’s understandable that you may be disappointed if your flight is cancelled. Unfortunately, flight cancellations are quite common: there can be more than 2,000 flight…

Read more >
19.06.2019

Cancelled flight with a travel agency – check who’s at fault

Flight prices offered by travel agencies are tempting to anyone who’d like to spend their dream vacations in the paradise destination of their choice. This is mainly because they offer comprehensive holiday packages, including flight to and from the destination. But what when we’ve been waiting to take off for several hours or, worse yet,…

Read more >