Can I Get a Refund for Travel Canceled Due to COVID-19?

American Airlines Boeing 737-800
••• Photo courtesy of American Airlines

If you’re still dealing with canceled or delayed travel plans due to COVID-19, or you booked a trip earlier but aren’t comfortable traveling just yet, all is not lost. Major airlines, hotels, and cruise operators are still giving travelers some options that should lessen the financial burden of disrupted travel plans.

Here’s what travel providers are offering consumers whose trips have been impacted by the pandemic.

What Major U.S. Airlines Are Doing

The good news: Four U.S. airlines—United, American, Delta, and now JetBlue—are no longer charging change fees on many flights. Southwest has never charged such fees. Plus the airlines have temporary provisions in place to cover most fare classes during this time. 

American Airlines

With American’s new policy, you’re allowed to change first, business, premium economy, and main cabin American Airlines flight tickets—domestic, short-haul international, and some long-haul international—purchased after Aug. 31, 2020 without paying a change fee. This is a permanent change for new flights, too. 

With American’s new policy, you’re allowed to change first, business, premium economy and main cabin American Airlines flight tickets—domestic or short-haul international—one time without paying a change fee. 

Additionally, for any type of ticket (including basic economy and award travel reservations) bought by Dec. 31, 2020, the airline is waiving change fees, including award tickets. Your rebooked travel must be completed on or before Dec. 31, 2021. 

For more about what American Airlines is doing for travelers, see the “Current travel updates” page on the airline’s website, which also includes details about current travel restrictions.

Delta

This airline has permanently eliminated ticket change fees for travel within the U.S., and to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, except for basic economy tickets purchased after March 30, 2021. Award ticket changes are also now fee-free, even if changes are made within 72 hours of your scheduled departure. 

Furthermore, any travel credits you receive from canceled trips booked before April 17, 2020 are also now good through December 2022. 

For more details about the latest Delta flight change options and how to rebook travel, see the airline’s change and cancellation answer page.

JetBlue

JetBlue won’t charge cancellation and change fees for any new bookings made through March 31, 2021. Starting April 1, these rules will apply, which vary depending on what type of ticket you purchased: 

  • No change or cancellation fees for Blue, Blue Plus, and Mint fares for all flights. Day-of changes can be made for $75, and you won’t pay a fare difference.
  • No change or cancellation fees (just the fare difference cost, if there is one) and free day-of changes for Blue Extra fares. 
  • Change or cancel a Blue Basic fare for $100 for flights around the U.S., and to the Caribbean, Mexico or Central America. The fee for other route changes will be $200, and same-day updates can be made for $75 (no fare difference cost, either). 

If you cancel your flight, JetBlue will give you a travel credit valid for 12 months. Travel credits issued between Feb. 27 and June 30 for flights will also now be good for 24 months instead of 12. To keep tabs on additional changes and trip options, see the JetBlue Travel Alerts webpage, which also includes information about current domestic and international travel restrictions and coronavirus testing requirements.

United

United has also permanently done away with change fees for most economy (except basic economy) and premium cabin tickets for flights within the U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii), the Caribbean, and Mexico. You also won’t have to pay a change fee for international flights that depart from the U.S. 

For all other flights, change fees have been waived for tickets issued before March 31, 2021.

If your trip schedule has been significantly changed or your flight was canceled without another option, you may be able to request a refund online or by contacting the airline.

See the airline’s important notices page for destination-specific details on how United is handling travel rescheduled or canceled because of COVID-19.

Southwest

This airline never charges fees to cancel or change flights, and that still holds true. You can cancel your flight up to 10 minutes before your flight is scheduled to leave. Any travel funds resulting from a canceled, nonrefundable Wanna Get Away ticket will be good for one year from the original purchase date. 

For more information, see the Southwest Coronavirus travel information webpage, which also includes details about routes that are currently disrupted or suspended due to COVID-19.

What Hotels Are Doing 

Hilton

Hilton is now waiving change fees for all reservations, even prepaid, normally nonrefundable ones. In most cases, reservations can be canceled or changed up to 24 hours before arrival for no additional charge. Note that policy terms may vary between properties. See the Hilton website for more information. 

Marriott

Travelers who made or will make new reservations after July 6, 2020 for arrival before March 31, 2021 can change or cancel them with no additional charge up to 24 hours before check in. Those who book a new stay with an arrival date on or after April 1, 2021 are subject to the cancellation policies that were in place when they first made the reservation. Details about these policies can be found on the hotel’s COVID-19 update page

Hyatt

Almost any new reservations made on or after July 1, 2020 for a future arrival date through July 31, 2021 can also now be canceled or changed up to 24 hours before your scheduled check-in with no change fees. Reservations made after July 1, 2020 at Destination Residences, Hyatt Residence Clubs, and Miraval properties, or under special event rates are subject to the cancellation policy you agreed to when you made the booking. For more information, see the Hyatt travel update webpage.

Choice Hotels

If you made a reservation with the Choice hotel network (which includes brands such as Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, and Econolodge) on or after July 10, 2020 for arrival after Oct. 1, 2020, the individual hotel’s cancellation policy in place when you booked will apply. See the Choice Hotels travel alerts webpage for policy specifics. 

What Cruise Lines are Doing

Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruises departing from U.S. ports have been canceled through May 31, 2021. Travelers with canceled Carnival cruises have two options: Get a full refund, or get a cruise credit and an onboard credit per room. You can look up the status of your booked cruise online for more information.

Celebrity Cruises

This cruise line has suspended all trips through April 30, 2021, plus the Apex Transatlantic trip scheduled to depart on May 1, and the Europe Season for Edge and Constellation’s sailings leaving May-October 2021. 

If your trip is impacted, you’ll automatically receive a cruise credit for 125% of the original trip cost that will be good through April 30, 2022. If you prefer a full refund to your original form of payment, you can submit a request online until March 31, 2021 to get 100% of what you paid back.

Disney Cruise Line

All sailings are suspended through May 2021 and Disney Magic Sailings are cancelled through Aug. 10, 2021. The company is offering all affected travelers a full refund or a cruise credit. For a full list of impacted trips, including new Canadian sailing terms, see the Disney Cruise Line travel alert webpage.

MSC Cruises USA

This cruise line has resumed operations for a few ships in the Mediterranean (and limited to travelers from the Schengen countries), but many trips are still canceled. Affected travelers can get a full refund or a credit toward any future cruise worth 100% of the original fare. You may be eligible for some onboard credits to use when you take your next cruise, too.  For more details about the latest cruise changes, see the MSC Cruises itinerary updates webpage.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian has canceled all cruises through May 2021. Travelers who had a trip suspended will automatically receive a full refund to their original form of payment by March 23, 2021. A 10% off coupon will also be added to their account that can be put toward any cruise setting sail through 2022. That discount can be combined with other travel credits and promotions, but will expire in one year.  See the cruise line’s update page for more information.

Princess Cruise Lines

Princess has a webpage detailing all suspended trips, including all trips that have been paused through March 31, 2021 and many trips later this year, too. If your trip has been canceled, you will receive a 125% credit to use on a future trip. See the Princess website for more information.

Royal Caribbean International

The cruise line has now suspended operations through May 31, 2021, and some trips (like those scheduled to leave from Canadian ports) even longer than that. 

If your trip has been impacted, there are two refund options: a full refund to your original form of payment or a 125% credit good toward a future cruise that sails by Sept. 30, 2022 (just make sure you rebook your cruise by April 30, 2022). If you want to reschedule the trip, you can do so while maintaining the same itinerary and pricing within four weeks of your original sail date. For more information about travel refunds, see Royal Caribbean’s Health and Travel Alerts webpage.

Viking Cruise Line

All cruises scheduled to depart through May 31, 2021 have been suspended. The cruise line is offering a voucher for 125% of your trip cost that can be put toward a future cruise and is good for 24 months. Viking Customer Relations is reaching out to affected travelers, and you can call or email customer service to find out more.

Not Satisfied? Contact Your Credit Card Issuer

If you paid for your trip with a credit card, there’s probably not much any travel insurance benefits offered by the card can do to help recoup lost costs. However, if you need (or want) to dispute a travel expense, reach out to your card issuer. For more information about what credit card issuers are and aren’t doing to help with disrupted travel during the pandemic, see “Can Your Credit Card Help With Travel Disrupted by the Coronavirus?