With the spread of Coronavirus, many people are concerned about their trips. In fact, many of the TLFL team have trips booked to China and Hong Kong in the next few weeks and we are monitoring the situation closely ourselves. So what can you do if you don’t want to travel? Firstly keep an eye on the foreign office advice for the area you are visiting. Unless the Foreign Office advise against travel to your specific destination, your travel insurance is unlikely to refund any money. Yesterday they announced that they advise against all but essential travel to mainland China (not Hong Kong and Macau). It is expected that UK airlines will cancel their flights to China as a result though no announcements had been made. You can find the official UK government advice page here.
If you are due to travel and your airline will not let you switch dates or cancel, rather than lose your money you could look at transiting China/Hong Kong/Macau etc and flying on somewhere else rather than waste the money.
Most of the major airlines are being pretty flexible but it does vary from airline to airline. Here is the latest at the time of writing:
Breaking: It is expected that in light of the latest Foreign Office advice, BA will announce this morning that all flights to China are cancelled except Hong Kong until the end of the month. BA’s current policy is pretty generous and should give most people peace of mind. If you are travelling to or from China including Hong Kong until 23 February, you have the option to refund or rebook.
If you are flying between 26 January – 23 February 2020 you can rebook on to another flight operated by British Airways to the same destination.
This must be in the same cabin class as the original flight or a lower cabin if available. This also includes any connecting flights that are operated by British Airways. To make this change contact BA. If you made this booking via a travel agent, contact them to rebook your flight.
If you are flying between 26 January – 23 February 2020, you can request a refund if you prefer. This also includes any Avios redemption bookings.
To make this change please contact us. If you made this booking via a travel agent, please contact them to refund your flight.
You can find the official BA Coronavirus announcement here.
I know a lot of people snapped up bargains to China and Asia in some of the recent companion sales like Roving Reporter did. Their policy is not quite as generous unless you are flying to China as Hong Kong and Macao are not covered.
Lufthansa Group passengers can rebook or refund their travel to or from China free of charge. Passengers with tickets issued before or on January 23 for flights to or from mainland China between January 24 and February 23, are able to rebook their flight on the original routing or refund their tickets. This is applicable for tickets issued by Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, SWISS or Brussels Airlines, for flights with OS, LH, LX or CA flight numbers. The new travel must be before September 30, 2020. This does not apply for travels to Hong Kong and Macao.
You can find the official Lufthansa group announcement here.
|Impacted travel dates||Affected Cities||Ticket must be reissued on or before||Rebooked travel must begin no later than|
|22nd January 2020 to 29th February 2020||All Virgin Atlantic and codeshare flights to/from/through China, including Hong Kong||29th February 2020||31st March 2020|
Virgin probably have the most generous policy as you are able to choose another destination although you are responsible for any additional charges for the new ticket price.
Virgin Atlantic are offering the following for flights to and from China, including Hong Kong:
- Re-book to a later date
Take a Virgin Atlantic flight to your destination at a later date. Tickets must be rebooked on or before the 29th February 2020 and your travel start no later than 31st March 2020, subject to availability of seats in the same cabin. These changes will be free of charge.
- Change your travel destination
Travel to an alternate destination on a Virgin Atlantic flight or via one of our codeshare partners. Tickets must be rebooked on or before the 29th February 2020 and your travel start no later than 31st March 2020, subject to availability of seats in the same cabin. Ticket fare difference applies.
- Request a refund
If you’ve decided you’re no longer travelling with us and would prefer not to change your ticket to another flight you can apply for a refund on our website. Cancellations must be made on or before the 29th February 2020.
Virgin are asking customers who want to change their flight to use text messaging on +44 (0) 7481 339184.
If you are travelling with Cathay, they are only covering China, not Hong Kong for refunds and changes.
Cathay have announced that they are reducing the capacity of our flights to and from mainland China by 50% or more, from 30 January to the end of March, 2020. Rebooking, rerouting and refund charges will be waived for all tickets issued worldwide (irrespective of fare type) on or before 28 January 2020 for travel on Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon confirmed bookings arriving to or departing from mainland China between 28 January and 31 March 2020.
In addition, Cathay Dragon flights to and from Wuhan have been suspended until 31 March 2020. Rebooking, rerouting and refund charges will be waived for all tickets issued worldwide (irrespective of fare type) on/before 21 January 2020 for travel with Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon confirmed bookings arriving to or departing from Wuhan (WUH) between 21 January 2020 and 31 March 2020.
Even if you have booked a non-refundable rate it is worth checking directly with your hotel whether there is any flexibility. Most major chains are allowing cancellations or rebookings. Some hotels such as The Langham in Hong Kong are allowing you to change dates, although refunds are not allowed at that hotel.
So the general message is, make sure you look at all the options before you decide to cancel and lose money. There is probably a way to change your trip, postpone or simply fly on to another destination so you don’t lose your holiday.
Hilton have announced that it will offer free cancellations on all bookings at Hilton properties in Wuhan on stays on or before Feb. 2.
Accor has extended free cancellations to guests who are booked to stay at any property within Greater China on or before Feb. 2.
Marriott group hotels are waiving cancellation fees for hotel stays through February 29, 2020 for guests with reservations at hotels in Mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan and guests from Mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan travelling outbound to other Marriott destinations globally.
Intercontinental hotel group – IHG
Guests travelling to or from Mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, or the Taiwan region between 23 January and 8 February 2020 will be able to change or cancel a valid booking reservation.
- Changing or cancelling a valid reservation (with or without guarantee) would be allowed without financial penalty dated for bookings made via the Hotel directly, IHG.com, IHG APP or the IHG Central Reservations Centre. Prepaid rate guests may make the change or cancellation by calling 400 884 0888 (for Mainland China guests only) or +86 21 20334888 (for international guests).
For bookings made by a travel agent or online booking platform contact your agent.
Hyatt does not specify what Greater China consists of but usually, this means China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
- Guests who have booked stays between January 23 until February 10, 2020 at any Greater China Hyatt hotel via Hyatt official channels, including Hyatt.com, World of Hyatt App, WeChat Mini Program and Global Contact Center, can postpone or cancel without any cancellation fee;
- Guests from Greater China who have booked stays from January 23 until February 10, 2020, at any Hyatt hotel globally via Hyatt official channels, including Hyatt.com, World of Hyatt App, WeChat Mini Program and Global Contact Center, can postpone or cancel without any cancellation fee;
- Greater China Hyatt hotels continue to work with group and event customers with questions or concerns regarding future business;