Last update: 24th March 2020
As the number of international Coronavirus cases continues to rise, many airlines are cancelling their flights. At the same time, measures to contain the virus are having a major impact on air traffic in Europe and beyond. Countries are beginning to impose entry bans (e.g. the USA closed down its borders). These developments will lead to a further sharp reduction in flights. It is important, therefore, to know what your rights are if your flight is cancelled. Our team has compiled a clear and concise summary of your rights in case of cancellation due to Coronavirus. Bear in mind that the situation is changing daily. You might also be entitled to cancellation compensation because of Coronavirus. Enter your flight data into our compensation calculator and we will let you know if you are eligible to claim.
My flight was cancelled because of Coronavirus, what can I do?
As with any flight cancellation, the airline is obliged to refund your ticket or offer you an alternative flight. This means that even if you are not entitled to compensation, you will at least get a replacement flight or your money back. In addition to a ticket reimbursement, we recommend that you find out whether or not you are eligible to receive compensation. Flightright will check your flight data and determine whether or not Coronavirus is the real reason behind your flight cancellation.
Is the cancellation reason “Coronavirus” considered an exceptional circumstance?
According to the EU Reg. 261/2004, an extraordinary circumstance is an event beyond an airline’s control. The Coronavirus outbreak is such an event. Many airlines have cancelled flights to certain areas due to official travel warnings. The EU Commission announced on 18.03.2020 that the Covid-19 pandemic and the measures to contain it are to be considered an exceptional circumstance.
Coronavirus: when am I entitled to compensation for my cancelled flight?
While some airlines are genuinely cancelling flights in order to protect their passengers, others are protecting their pockets. As chaos and panic increases, airlines wishing to cancel flights for economic reasons have a ready-made excuse: Coronavirus. According to our legal experts, passengers can claim cancellation compensation because of Corona when:
- Airlines cancel flights for financial reasons
- There are no enroute restrictions due to border closures
- No official travel warning to the destination has been issued
- Passengers were informed of the cancellation less than 14 days before departure
Airlines attributing flight cancellations to “extraordinary circumstances” may be telling half the truth. This is not always the case. The demand has fallen significantly due to the outbreak of the virus and a lot of flights have therefore been cancelled based on economic considerations.
Our legal experts are following the developments minute-by-minute to evaluate whether or not passengers can receive compensation for Corona cancellations. Flightright supports you and determines the actual reason for your flight cancellation. Check your flight for free.
I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to fly. What are my options?
Air traffic to and from regions with confirmed Coronavirus outbreaks has already been partially restricted. If you are uncertain about other destinations and wish to postpone or cancel your trip, you should contact the airline as a precautionary measure. For passengers flying to countries where there is a confirmed health risk, i.e. a warning has been issued by the UK Government Department of Health and Social Care or Public Health England, flight tickets will be refunded within 14 days, free of charge. In all other cases, the regular cancellation conditions of the airline apply. Some airlines have, however, made goodwill arrangements in light of the extenuating circumstances.
How can I protect myself from Coronavirus during my flight?
Our recommendation: avoid any unnecessary air travel and maintain good hygiene practices. Stay up-to-date by following the news and travel warnings. All the latest information can be found here on the World Health Organisation’s website. Country specific information on government measures related to Coronavirus can also be found here on the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) website.
Flight cancellation due to border closure: What rights do I have?
Numerous countries within and outside of the EU have already begun to close their borders to counteract the spread of the coronavirus. Other countries are expected to follow. If a flight is cancelled due to the closure of borders or an entry stop, travellers have no right to compensation. This is an exceptional circumstance. Passengers can have their ticket costs reimbursed or rebooked.
What can I do if I am stuck at my holiday destination because my return flight is cancelled due to the coronavirus?
In general: Passengers have a contract of carriage with the airline or tour operator. This means that they are entitled to a replacement flight or rebooking to get home.
If the return flight is cancelled, passengers should contact the tour operator or airline directly for alternative transportation. Otherwise, contact the nearest embassy or consulate of your country