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Coronavirus Travel Impact: Here’s How To Change Or Cancel Your Reservations

“Massive headache” is usually the phrase that comes to mind when thinking about changing your travel plans. Most companies, however, are actually going out of their way to not make this the case during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Now that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a warning advising against non-essential travel, most every upcoming travel plan is completely up in the air (airplane pun intended). Here are some ways to mitigate the damage to your sanity and your wallet while changing travel plans amidst this global crisis…


Consider Buying A Refundable Ticket (Or Travel Insurance)

If you already purchased a refundable ticket and/or travel insurance, good for you. If you’re like the rest of the world, check and see what the refund policy is on your ticket. While most of your plans probably fall outside the 24-hour grace period where many airlines offer free cancellations, most will still refund a decent amount of the ticket price (especially Southwest, which doesn’t have any cancellation fees).

Hotels also typically offer a full refund if the reservation is canceled between one and three days before scheduled check-in. While Airbnb cancellation policies are determined by each host, the site seems to be fairly lenient when sufficient reasoning is provided (and a global pandemic would likely qualify as “sufficient reasoning”).

Photo: Montag

When In Doubt, Check Your Credit Card

Credit cards have a lot more benefits than most consumers often think. For example, many have travel insurance of some sort built into their basic benefits package. You know those people who create spreadsheets outlining the various benefits each credit card program offers? Befriend those people. Those friendships could certainly come in handy, especially when it comes to knowledge of trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage.

Photo: Lander

Swap Tickets Online

Gone are the days where you couldn’t change the name on your ticket if your life depended on it. Travel Transfer Marketplaces now exist, and for a small fee, you can post your offer. As long as certain guidelines are met, most airlines actually accept name changes on tickets.

Photo: WikiMedia Commons/N509FZ

Ask For Other Options

Everything is negotiable. Perhaps a full refund is off the table, but a vendor would be willing to provide some sort of credit for future use. Sure, you’re giving the vendor an interest-free loan of sorts, but pat yourself on the back and consider yourself a good Samaritan. Just make sure you read the fine print and use the voucher within the dates specified.

Photo: Piacquadio

Revert To The Trusty Spoken Word

Just as it’s easier to be confrontational and raise an issue online, it’s easier for customer service representatives to shoot down your request or complaint online. Call, speak to a human (preferably a manager with the authority to make decisions), and be cordial. Kind remarks are almost always better received than daggers. At the end of the day, it’s all about respect.


Traveling is stressful enough without having to worry about what you can’t control (like the Coronavirus). Keep the options above in mind to avoid any unwanted surprises and unnecessary anxiety. Stay healthy out there.