plane
  • International airlines are offering free cancellation or flights changes to all destinations due to coronavirus. 
  • This as several companies have cancelled corporate travel and global events have been cancelled. 
  • Seven South Africans have thus far tested positive for the virus. 
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider's home page.

A number of international airlines, including British Airways, Qatar and Emirates, are now offering consumers free cancellations or flight changes in light of coronavirus.

Several international companies have cancelled corporate travel, while global events such as Barcelona’s mobile world congress, and creative conference SXSW in Texas, United States, have been cancelled.

Seven South Africans have tested positive for the virus, formally known as SARS-CoV-2,  which has thus far infected over 100 000 people worldwide. 

It was declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in January, a month after it was detected in Wuhan, China. 

While several airlines have cancelled routes to China due to the virus, Ethiopian Airlines has faced criticism for not cancelling flights or not offering refunds.

Here are the airlines offering cancellations, or changes to bookings due to coronavirus:


United Airlines 

United Airlines, which offers direct flights between New York and Cape Town, is offering consumers free flight changes for any flights booked between March 3 and March 31.

Flights between March 9 and April 30, booked before March 2, can also be changed at no cost. 

The flights, must, however, be rebooked for a flight within the next 12 months. 


Singapore Airlines 

Singapore Airlines has waived cancellation and change fees for customers with tickets issued on or before 4 March 2020 for travel to and from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Japan and northern Italy between 24 January 2020 to 30 April 2020. 

The new travel date must, however, commence on or before 31 August 2020.


Cathay Pacific 

Cathay Pacific is offering passengers who booked flights to Wuhan before January 21, to mainland China before February 3, to Philippines before February 4, Taiwan before February 8, Israel before February 19, South Korea before February 24, and to Thailand and Japan before March 6 full refunds.

For all other countries, they are not able to offer a full refund, but you can change your flight with no rebooking or rerouting fees (fare difference applies).


Emirates 

Emirates, which operates several flights from Johannesburg, has waived all fees for booking changes on bookings made before 31 March 2020 to all countries.


Qatar Airlines 

Passengers that have booked or will book flights for travel up to 30 June 2020 will be allowed to change their travel plans free of charge by altering the dates of their booking or exchanging their ticket for a travel voucher valid for one year.


KLM 

For passengers with KLM tickets starting with 074, issued on or before Tuesday 31 March 2020, and valid for travel between Wednesday 4 March 2020 and Sunday 31 May 2020, are entitled to postpone their trip at no extra cost regardless of destination. 

Flights to Italy until the end of April, can be rebooked at no extra cost. 

The new departure date should, however, be no later than Sunday 31 May 2020.

Flights to China until end of May can be rebooked at no extra cost, but should be rebooked for no later than the end of June.


British Airways  

British Airways is waving flight booking changes on all bookings made between March 3 and March 15, but has to be rebooked within the next 12 months. 

Flights to and from Hong Kong up to end of May can be rebooked at a later date. And flights between London and Italy up until April 4 can be refunded or rebooked for flights on a later date.


Virgin Atlantic 

For all flight bookings in March, Virgin Atlantic is offering passengers free booking changes, but flights need to be rebooked before the end of September.

For flights to Hong Kong between February 23 and April 30, a full refund can be claimed. And for travel to Italy until the end of March, flights can be rebooked until end of May at no additional cost.


Air France 

For all flights booked before March 31 on Air France, bookings can be changed for other flights up until the end of May.

All flights to China, Hong Kong and Taipei have been suspended until March 29, and tickets can be rebooked or refunded. 


Lufthansa and Swiss Air 

All bookings before March 5 for travel date up to April 30 can be rebooked for any flight up to the end of December at no rebooking fee.

Newly booked flights until March 31 will be allowed to be rebooked, regardless of the original booking for flights until the end of December without any rebooking fee. 


Turkish Airlines 

For passengers who have booked flights to China between January 31 and April 1 on Turkish Airlines, reservation changes will be made free of charge for flights before May 31. 

For flights to Italy between February 28 and April 1, reservations can be changed free of charge. provided that the new reservation is for a flight taking place by May 31, 2020. 


Receive a daily update on your cellphone with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: