Flight disruptions due to coronavirus: What should you do?

Let's get it straight, you can’t get compensation.

It’s something out of anyone's control, hence your airline can’t be held accountable for this. If your flight is cancelled because of coronavirus, you will not get EU flight compensation. The same stands true for many flight delays right now. If it’s happening due to coronavirus related travel restrictions or precautions, you will not get flight delay compensation.

What if your flight gets cancelled or delayed right now? What should you do? Here we are talking about COVID-19 related flight disruptions.

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Woman wearing a face mask

COVID-19 related travel restrictions

The World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11 declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

The situation is serious and countries around the world are taking necessary actions to help to stop further global spread. The situation is changing rapidly.

New travel resctrictions are being introduced daily.

Countries are closing borders and banning travel.

If you have to travel now, make sure to check up to date information regarding travel restrictions before you go. See the website of your country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and learn about possible restrictions on the way to your travel destination.

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Inside the airport building

COVID-19 related flight disruptions

First of all, let’s be understanding.

These are difficult times for all the travel industry. Some airlines are handing the situation better, while others are slow to react. Some already have a special COVID-19 Cancellation Policy in place, while others - don’t.

If you can find a solution yourself, do it. And contact the airline later, if at all.

1. What if your flight is cancelled?

See the e-mail you have received from your airline.

The answer will be there. Choose the option (if there are several) that suits you the best. If it’s a European airline or you’re travelling from Europe, mostly they will offer you a full refund or a new flight. The new flight can be now or at a later date.

If you haven’t received anything, check the website of your airline.

Contact your airline only if you really have to.

Even if your flight is cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances in Europe you always should have an option to get a full refund. You don't have to accept coupons or something like that if you don't want to.

And you always have the right to care, if it happens at the very last moment.

If you really have to fly now, get a new flight yourself. Don’t wait. And contact your airline and travel insurance company later.

2. What if your flight is delayed?

Contact the airport to find out if the check in is postponed as well.

If the check in is postponed - wait at home or hotel for a while, if it isn’t - proceed to the airport as planned. If you are already at the airport, do the same. See if the check in is open. If it is, then proceed as normally.

No matter the reason of the delay, you have the right to care.

Even if the delay if due to so called extraordinary circumstances.

If you have to wait at the airport 3+ hours, the airline should provide you with free food and 2 free calls, e-mails or faxes. If it’s an overnight delay - free hotel accommodation and transportation to and from it should be provided.

With EU airlines this applies to all flights to and from Europe.

With non-EU airlines this applies only to flights from Europe. But not to flights from other countries to Europe. Learn more about your rights when travelling with non-EU airlines.

By Europe and EU we mean all EU Member States, the United Kingdom (UK), Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Mayotte, Saint Martin, the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

KLM airplane up close - KLM flight delay compensation

3. What if you don’t want to travel anymore?

What if your flight isn’t cancelled?

What if it’s that you just don’t want to travel anymore? Because right now it isn't safe for you and your community. What to do in these situations?

Many airlines right now offer their customers free rescheduling. You can change travel dates at no extra cost even if your flight is non-refundable and non amendable. All you have to pay is the difference in price, if there’s any.

See if your airline is offereing free rescheduling.

If it isn’t, contact the airline to ask about the options.

We hope it clarifies things a bit.

Stay safe!