Now that the coronavirus has become pandemic, many countries are closing down their borders to foreigners in an effort to halt the spread. This has naturally led to a lot of cancelled flights and airline tickets – and passengers and airline companies have had to shoulder the burden of it.

Airlines are trying to make up for the lost flights by lowering the ticket prices, and up until this week, it was not at all surprising to see a return-flight ticket US to Barcelona for less than $400. Another way that airlines are trying to entice passengers to book tickets is by really bending their rules. Many of them are offering tickets which you can reschedule and cancel, free of charge. Usually, you would have had to pay a fee.

So, how can you cancel your airline ticket during coronavirus and when should you do it?

How and When to Cancel Airline Tickets During Coronavirus Pandemic?

If you have recently purchased a flight ticket, but because of the threat of the coronavirus you would like to cancel it, there are some things you should keep in mind:

  • Cancel early. As soon as you know you won’t be able to make the trip, cancel your ticket. If you wait until last minute or just before departure time, you may not be able to receive a refund or rescheduling opportunities.
  • You won’t always receive back cash. Sometimes airlines will offer you airline credit, which is basically the chance to purchase another ticket with the airline with that amount of money but at a later date. Airline credit will usually expire within a year.
  • Travel insurance. In some cases, even if the airline company does not reimburse your cancelled ticket, your travel insurance provider may offer coverage for cancelled trips. However, there are some rules even in this case.

Different airlines have their own rules regarding cancellation and rescheduling. If the trip is cancelled through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation.

At this time, airlines are very likely receiving countless calls from people who want to cancel or inquire about their flights. So it is very possible that the airline’s customer services will not be able to respond to your call or emails. So, check their websites and social media sites for any information they may have provided – try to reach out to them that way as well. If you cannot cancel your flight through a call or online, then you may go to the airport and cancel in person.

Read: Purchasing a flight ticket without paying the full ticket.

Should You Cancel Your Flight During Coronavirus?

Unfortunately, in many cases, you won’t really have a choice. The governments of a large number of countries in the world have placed travel restrictions and entry bans to foreign travellers in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

For one, as of March 17, the EU has agreed to close the external borders of the Schengen Zone (which consists of 26 European countries). So, if you are a non-EU national who intends to travel to an EU country, you will not be able to travel there at all, unless it is for emergency or humanitarian reasons.

The Canada and US border has been closed, and Canada has banned entry for most foreigners. On March 13, the US also banned entry to anyone travelling from a Schengen country until at least mid-April, whereas flights out of the US to Europe continued for another week after the announcement in order to allow the stranded EU citizens to return home.

Many other countries around the world, such as Vietnam, Thailand, India, and the UAE have temporarily suspended tourist visas or visa-free entrance, especially to travellers from the most affected countries.

All in all, the question of whether you should cancel your flight is very tricky to navigate at the moment. The CDC and the World Health Organization have advised travellers to avoid all but essential travel (for emergencies or medical reasons).

So, the best thing to do right now is to learn what travel restrictions the country you are travelling to or the country you are travelling from has put in place. Follow the travel advisories your government or official authorities have placed and do not travel if you are feeling ill.

In addition to that, if you travel from a country affected by the coronavirus, once you reach your destination, you will very likely have to self-isolate for at least 14 days, even if you don’t show any symptoms of COVID-19.

If You Have to Travel During Coronavirus:

If your trip actually is essential or you are travelling to a low-risk country, then you have to make sure that you take the necessary measures to keep yourself and others safe if you’re travelling during the coronavirus. This includes washing your hands frequently, keeping your distance, and wearing a mask if you are in closed quarters.