With the spread of the coronavirus or COVID-19, it's a tricky time for people who have trips planned to certain places. There are travel bans put in place for some countries (Italy is currently in lockdown) and people are glued to the news, learning all that they can about how to stay healthy.
Before this virus, travelers who wanted to change their travel plans and cancel or reschedule their flights would have to pay up. According to The Points Guy, it can cost people $400 to change an international flight and $200 if flying domestically. That's definitely a lot of money.
United Airlines is currently waiving the change fee on plane tickets... but there's a catch. Read on to find out everything that you need to know.
You Needed To Buy Your Plane Tickets Prior To A Certain Date
There's a catch to United Airlines waiving the change fee: you had to have bought your plane tickets prior to a certain date. According to The Washington Post, you can get change fees on your plane tickets waived if you bought the tickets before March 2nd (or on March 2nd). This goes for international and domestic flights. This is for flights scheduled from March 10th until April 30th, 2020.
But is the fee going to be waived for tickets bought at any time? Nope, that's not the case. You'll have to look up your destination and also check the date that you purchased your tickets. For example, according to the airline's website, the change fee for anyone planning to go to Italy will be waived if they bought the ticket before February 26th. This seems fair since chances are, if you're going on an international vacation, you did plan it months in advance. Since people have to take time off work and save up, it's not a decision to take lightly or make super last-minute.
Some Other Things To Know
The government of Canada website recommends that people "Avoid non-essential travel to China due to an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)." If anyone has tickets booked to China, the change fee can be waived if they bought the ticket by February 12th. The United website explains, "The change fee and any difference in fare will be waived for new United flights departing between January 24, 2020, and June 30, 2020, as long as travel is rescheduled in the originally ticketed cabin (any fare class) and between the same cities as originally ticketed."
It's also good to know that other airlines are also waiving their change fees, according to Market Watch. This includes Air France, which will allow people who were planning to fly to Italy from February 25th to April 30th to change their tickets to May 31st. This won't cost them anything if they bought their ticket prior to February 27th.
According to The Points Guy, United isn't flying to South Korea, Japan, Italy, China, or Hong Kong right now. The website explains, "The Chicago-based carrier will suspend service on 13 more routes and reduce schedules on nearly 170 more in April due to the virus-related drop in demand, according to Cirium schedule data and confirmed by United."
This Gives Travelers Peace Of Mind
Travelers are definitely happy to hear that United Airlines has waived the change fees on certain flights because it gives them peace of mind.
Reading the news can be a bit unnerving right now, and people aren't super sure about their upcoming travel plans. But knowing that an airline isn't going to charge you for changing your flight in the next little while (as long as you follow the guidelines) is definitely a good thing. And it doesn't seem like anyone should have to lose money or pay more money when there's a health crisis going on.
According to Vox.com, Senator Richard Blumenthal wrote to execs who work for airline companies such as United, Delta, and American and said, “Airlines should enable consumers to adjust their travel plans — regardless of when those decisions are made or when a passenger’s ticket was purchased."
Toronto General Hospital's Dr. Isaac Bogoch, who specializes in infectious diseases, told Global News, “Have alternative plans. Make sure you are ensured and have the capability of canceling your booking if you choose not to travel, or face a travel mishap, for a variety of reasons, including a change in travel advisories and restrictions."
It's great that United Airlines has decided to waive the change fees on plane tickets, and it seems that other airlines are doing the same. As long as travelers are careful about checking dates, they should be able to get the fees waived.