Update: How Canadian Airlines are Dealing with Coronavirus
Airline Ticket Centre released a blog two weeks ago detailing the preliminary steps the travel industry has been taking in response to coronavirus. As the situation regarding the spread of the disease is both intensifying and quickly changing, it is imperative that our customers receive the correct information with regards to airline policy and governmental action.
As of March 13, both major Canadian domestic airlines– WestJet and Air Canada– have instituted policies whereby they will allow passengers to change select flights for no fee. WestJet has announced they are removing fees for changes on flights booked for travel up to March 31. As well, any bookings made on WestJet between March 3 and 17 for travel up to June 24 will be allowed a change without incurring a fee.
Air Canada Policy
In addition to suspending all flights to Italy and China, Air Canada has announced similar policies as WestJet for changing flights outside those areas. This policy will allow customers who purchase a ticket between March 4 and March 31 the ability to make one free change to their flight itinerary up to 24 hours before the departing flight. Customers may also cancel a booking and receive credits towards any flight with travel ending before December 31, 2020, with the passenger covering any discrepancy in ticket costs.
Air Transat Policy
Air Transat has also released a policy aimed specifically at its flights to Venice, Italy. Customers who purchased tickets on or before March 2 for travel until June 30, can make changes to their itinerary for travel until October 31.
Is Your Travel Itinerary Covered?
These policies seem to leave many passengers out of luck for no-fee changes, as they only apply broadly to travel until the end of March, or for purchases during March. However, if one reads between the lines, the policy of the domestic airlines seems to be that they will address these issues on a month to month basis, as the need arises and the situation changes. For instance, right now Italy is in a nationwide quarantine that was not a concern three weeks ago and may not be a concern three weeks from now. However, if the viral spread in Italy and elsewhere looks to continue into April, it seems to be a safe bet the Canadian airlines will adjust their policies to allow for changes to April flights.
For Canadian travelers using international carriers, there have been policy moves by many airlines around the world to reflect the spread of the virus. A list of popular carriers and their respective policies may be found here. This list is by no means comprehensive and one should confirm and receive policy details specific to your flight from an Airline Ticket Centre sales representative.
Keeping You Informed
The situation with coronavirus in all aspects of life is fluid and the travel industry in particular is at the front lines of disruption caused by these events. As of this writing flights within North America have been deemed safe with no interruptions, though President Trump has hinted of flight restrictions into and out of the United States. The situation is fluid and liable to change in hours or days. Airline Ticket Centre will strive to keep our loyal customers up to date with information as we receive it regarding coronavirus and will continue to deliver comprehensive customer service to those affected by its spread and its travel consequences. Please contact your ATC travel agent for up to date details on your travel itinerary.