Swine Flu Travel Change Policies by Airline

George Hobica, May 01, 2009
Fares from Washington DC:

    The Good, the Bad and the So-So.


    Not all airlines are treating customers equally when it comes to handling travelers disrupted by the Swine Flu crisis. One airline is actually offering a full refund in the form of original payment (very good, WestJet!). Some airlines are allowing customers to apply the full value of their fares to any alternate destination for travel up to one year from the original ticket's issue date (great job, Alaska, American, Continental, Copa, JetBlue, Spirit, Taca, and USA3000!).

    Others are not so kind.

    The Good: AirTran, Alaska, JetBlue, Northwest and United are taking their passenger needs into consideration by having easy and simple rules for changing your airline tickets. Even our mascot, Browser, can understand them!

    The Bad: As usual, airlines get caught up in "legalese" when it comes to writing their airfare rules. Sun Country and USAirways have some of the more difficult  to understand rules for when a passenger can and cannot change their flight to Mexico. If you have a ticket on either airline, I would advise you to call them directly to fully understand all your options.

    The So-So: The rest of the airlines have the standard rules for changing tickets where additional fees may apply if your revised fare is higher than the original ticket. In addition, several airlines are offering travel vouchers in place of a full refund. US Airways requires that if using a voucher to travel to an alternate destination other than Mexico, your trip must begin within 14 days of your original departure date, which isn't terribly generous of them.

    As any seasoned traveler knows, please check with your individual airline as these ticket rules and regulations can change daily. 

    Here is a snapshot of some of the ticket rules for changing your flights to/from Mexico.
       

    Airline Original Travel Dates Changes allowed during these dates Voucher valid for alternate destination? Comments
     Aeromexico  4/24 - 12/10/09  4/24 - 5/15/09  Not Specified A US$150 fee for No Shows may apply for some Intl cities.
     Air Canada  4/28 - 5/31/09  Up to 5/31/09  Not Specified Suspending all operations to Cancun, Cozumel, and Puerto Vallarta until June 1st.

     Air Tran

     4/29 - 5/15/09  4/29 - 5/15/09  Not Specified Call AirTran directly to change travel to/from Cancun.
     Alaska  4/27 - 5/20/09  4/27 - 5/20/09  Yes Possible credit if new destination fare is lower than original ticket.
     American  4/25 - 5/31/09  Not Specified  Yes Non-refundable fares will be refunded via a travel voucher.
     Continental  4/24 - 5/31/09  Not Specified  Yes If traveling on a OnePass Reward, call Continental to rebook.
     Copa  4/24 - 5/15/09  Not Specified  Yes Add'l fees may apply for revised itineraries starting May 30th and beyond.
     Delta  4/26 - 5/16/09  Not Specified  Call Delta Canceled ticket may be used to purchase a new ticket good for travel one year from original travel date.
     Frontier  4/27 - 5/16/09  4/27 - 5/16/09  Not specified Those already enroute to Mexico, your adjusted return date must occur by May 20th. Otherwise, revised travel must be completed within 30 days of original travel date.
     JetBlue  4/25 - 5/15/09  5/01 - 5/15/09  Yes Revised travel dates must occur no later than May 20th.
     Mexicana  4/24 - 5/06/09  Not Specified  Not Specified Refund by travel voucher valid for one year from date of issue.
     Northwest  4/26 - 5/16/09  Not Specified  Not Specified Use NWA.com "Mange My Reservations" to change your flight.
     Spirit  4/24 - 5/15/09  Not Specified  Yes Non-refundable fares will be refunded via travel voucher, good for one year from original ticket's date of issue.
     Sun Country  4/27 - 5/16/09  Not Specified  No Starting 4/29/09, those passengers departing Cancun will undergo a breif temperature and flu symptom check.
     Taca  4/24 - 5/06/09  Not Specified  Yes New travel dates must occur within one year excluding Dec. 10-24, 2009 and Jan. 2-10, 2010.
     United  4/26 - 5/31/09  Not Specified  Not Specified Call United to make any changes to your purchased ticket.
     US Airways  4/24 - 5/31/09  Not Specified  Yes If changing destination, travel must originate within 14 days of original departure date. US Airways has revised its policy and now allows departure after 14 days from original departure date but does not specify when alternate travel must be completed by (most likely within one year of original departure).
     USA3000  4/25 - 5/13/09  Not Specified  Yes Revised travel must end by Dec. 15, 2009.
     WestJet  4/28 - 6/20/09  Not Specified  Will provide full refund Service to Mexico ends 5/4/09. Flights resume 6/20/09.
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