Cancelling or rebooking your vacation? Current policies of major airlines and hotels

Editors note: These policies may change and will be updated as they evolve. 

Canadians across the country have been left in a lurch as they grapple with the widespread impact of the new coronavirus.

Canadian health and government officials announced on Friday all non-essential travel should be postponed and air travel will be restricted to certain airports. Cruise ships carrying over 500 passengers will not be allowed to dock in the country.

Travelling outside of Canada may be a risk not only because of the coronavirus, but also due to the possibility that another nation may close its borders and leave travellers stranded, said Canada’s minister of health Patty Hajdu at a press conference.

As of March 13, there are more than 150 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, the wife of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In recent weeks, airlines have been rushing to keep up with travel and airspace restrictions, especially since U.S. President Donald Trump announced most travellers from Europe wouldn’t be allowed into the country for 30 days.

Airline workers are anticipating layoffs, including the union for WestJet flight attendants who are expecting 50 per cent of its staff to be cut due to flight cancellations.

Changing government restrictions are reducing the number of flights available and travellers are scrambling to change or cancel their reservations. Here are some of the rebooking and cancellation policies recently outlined by major airlines for those who had upcoming travel plans.

Canadian airlines:

Air Canada: Tickets purchased between March 4 and March 31, 2020, are allowed a one time change to the flight without incurring a change fee up to 24 hours before you leave. Aeroplan bookings are covered under this policy.

You also have the option of cancelling your booking for a credit that can be used for a future trip. If the flight is more expensive, you will have to pay the difference and will not be reimbursed if you use the credit on a cheaper flight. The credit has to be used by Dec. 31, 2020.

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