The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on travel this year, and even with effective vaccines on the horizon, travelers may want to change or cancel their plans on relatively short notice.
Airlines, Amtrak, hotels have generally speaking relaxed their change and cancellation policies to accommodate those last-minute changes due to COVID-19.
They have every incentive to do that: Travel is down sharply from a year ago as the country is in the midst of a surge in COVID-19 cases, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that Americans not travel for Thanksgiving.
Most hotel reservations can be changed or canceled within 24 hours of arrival with no fee. Generally, travelers will have a year to use any credit they receive from a ticket they change or cancel.In the event that airlines cancel or change flights, they are required to issue refunds.
Most Amtrak fares can be changed or canceled without penalty.
Change and cancellation policies at Airbnb properties depend on the length of the stay and are up to the discretion of the owner. Vrbo allows you to search for properties that allow you to cancel your stay as close as 14 days from check-in.
Still, anyone who’s flying, taking a train or staying in a hotel or vacation rental should know what change and cancellation policies apply to them.
Airline cancellation, change policies
Alaska Airlines is permanently eliminating change fees on all flights except its lowest fares. Saver fares booked through Dec. 31 can be canceled, but not changed. Saver fares booked in 2021 cannot be canceled or changed. Credit certificates for canceled flights are good for 12 months from the issue date of the original ticket.
Allegiant is waiving change and cancellation fees through Dec. 31. A voucher will be issued for canceled travel or fare differences. The vouchers are good for two years from the date of the initial reservation.
American Airlines is dropping change and cancellation fees on domestic and short-haul international tickets. For existing travel through Dec. 31, the fee waiver also applies to basic economy fares and AAdvantage award tickets. Rebooked travel must be completed through Dec. 31, 2021. The fee elimination will be extended to long-haul international flights originating in North and South America for tickets on or after Nov. 19, excluding basic economy fares.
Airlines ditch change fees:Delta, American, United, Hawaiian, Alaska drop change fees on US flights
Delta Air Lines is permanently waiving change fees and award redeposit fees for travel within the United States starting in 2021, with the exception of basic economy. Through Dec. 31, change fees have been waived on all tickets, including basic economy. Rebooked travel that was originally booked in 2020 can be completed by Dec. 31, 2022.
Frontier Airlines is waiving change and cancellation fees through Jan. 7. Canceled fares will be issued as travel credit for the value of the itinerary.
Hawaiian Airlines has waived change fees for any ticket booked through Dec. 31, including basic economy.At the beginning of 2021, all fare levels except basic economy will no longer pay a penalty for changing or canceling their plans. Travel credits issued from a changed or canceled flight are good for two years after the original ticket issuance date.
JetBlue is waiving change and cancellation fees through Feb. 28. For cancellations, funds will be issued as travel credits, which can be used for future travel to any JetBlue destination for any traveler.
Southwest Airlines has never charged change or cancellation fees. Even tickets in the lowest fare category, Wanna Get Away, can be canceled for a travel credit that’s good for a year from the original purchase date.
Spirit Airlines is waiving change and cancellation fees for tickets booked through Dec. 31. Ticket-holders will receive a credit for future travel. Reservation credits booked on or after June 1 must be used for travel by May 31, 2021.
United has permanently eliminated change fees for most economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the United States and from the U.S. to the Caribbean and Mexico. For other destinations, United is waiving change fees through Dec. 31.
Amtrak cancellation, change policy
Amtrak is waiving change fees through Dec. 31. All tickets are refundable if canceled within 24 hours of booking. Cancellation fees apply to some fares. On Saver Fares, no changes or cancellations are allowed after 24 hours. Value fares incur a 25% cancellation fee if canceled less than 14 days before departure. Flexible, business and premium fares do not have cancellation fees. A 25% cancellation fee applies to sleeping car accommodations if canceled less than 121 days before departure.
Hotel and vacation rental cancellation, change policies
For stays under 28 nights, owners have the flexibility of three cancellation options: flexible, moderate or strict. A long-term cancellation policy automatically applies to stays of 28 days or more. Flexible enables free cancellation up to 24 hours before arrival; within 24 hours, guests are charged for the first night and a service fee. Moderate allows for free cancellation until five days before arrival; within five days, guests receive a 50% refund, minus the first night and service fee. Strict enables free cancellation for 48 hours after booking, as long as the guest cancels at least 14 days before check-in. After that, they can cancel at least seven days before check-in and receive a 50% refund. They won’t be charged the cleaning fee but they will have to pay the service fee. Here is the change and cancellation policy for long-term stays.
Vrbo allows you to search for properties that allow free cancellation 14 days, 30 days or 60 days before check-in. Property owners and managers determine the cancellation and refund policies for most homes.
Accor is allowing guests to cancel or change reservations up to and including Jan. 10, 2021. A credit voucher for a stay at the same hotel must be used within 18 months of the voucher date. Guests who need to cancel or modify their reservations are asked to contact the hotel directly,
Existing reservations booked before July 10 are subject to the change or cancellation policy that was in effect at the time of booking. If you booked on or after July 10 for an arrival on or after Oct. 1, the cancellation policy in place for the individual hotel at the time of booking applies.
Reservations made on or before Sept. 30 can be changed or canceled up to 24 hours before arrival with no fee. Reservations booked on or after Oct. 1 are subject to the policy of individual hotels. Hilton notes that most of its hotels have the flexibility to change or cancel reservations up to 24 hours before arrival with no fee charged.
Most existing reservations booked on or before July 1 can be changed or canceled up to 24 hours before arrival with no fee.The same policy applies to reservations booked on or after July 1 for arrival dates through July 31, 2021 . Hyatt encourages guests to learn which properties are exempt from the change and cancellation waiver.
Bookings made on or before Dec. 31 can be changed or canceled with no fee within 24 hours of arrival, including nonrefundable and prepaid reservations. After Dec. 31, nonrefundable and prepaid reservations will be subject to the terms and conditions at the time of booking.
If you booked between March 13 and July 5, you can change or cancel with no fee within 24 hours of arrival. If you reserved on or after July 6, each hotel’s standard cancellation policy will apply. Guests who want to cancel because they have tested positive for COVID-19 or because of a government-issued travel ban are instructed to contact customer care.
Bookings made before June 6 can be changed or canceled no more than 48 hours before arrival without penalty. Reservations made on or after June 6 are subject to the change and cancellation policies in place at the time of booking.
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