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Ryanair waives flight change fees as airlines and hotels offer flexibility over bookings hit by coronavirus

Ryanair waives flight change fees as airlines and hotels offer flexibility over bookings hit by coronavirus

Budget airline Ryanair has said it will waive its flight change fees for all customers who wish to change their travel plans due to the current coronavirus pandemic from today until Tuesday 31 March.

The move comes hours after fellow budget airline Easyjet also committed to waiving its flight change fees. We're increasingly seeing airlines, hotels and travel companies offering a more relaxed approach to cancellations and booking changes in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic – we've a list of what we've seen so far below.

For full help on holiday cancellation rights, travel insurance and more, see our constantly-updated Covid-19 Coronavirus Help guide.

What is Ryanair doing?

The airline told us its new rebooking policy applies to all existing and new bookings – so if you're booked to fly by Tuesday 31 March, you'll be able to do so without paying any fee. Ryanair's flight change fees typically costs between £50 and £95 if a change is made post-booking.

A Ryanair spokesperson told us that customers will still need to pay any difference in fare when changing a flight, but added: "We believe removing the change fee will provide more flexibility."

This doesn't affect customers hit by flight cancellations as they are entitled to a refund or a free move onto an alternative Ryanair flight.

Many other firms are starting to allow cancellations and changes

We're now seeing quite a few airlines, hotels and other travel companies being more flexible over cancellations and booking changes in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic – though some are sticking to their guns.

While most (though not all) travel insurers will cover you if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office issues an advisory telling people not to travel to a particular destination and you have a holiday booked there, insurance payouts in other situations are a little uncertain. You almost certainly won't get money back if you are just 'disinclined to travel', but you may also be left out of pocket if a country blocks you from entry.

With several countries, such as the Czech Republic, India and Israel, now restricting entry to UK travellers, and more likely to follow, cancellation and booking change rights are becoming increasingly important for holidaymakers.

Here's what firms had said they're doing as of Friday 13 March (for the latest, see our Covid-19 Coronavirus Help guide):

Airline cancellation and rebooking rights

Airline Cancellation and rebooking policy Full info
British Airways You can change the travel date on flight bookings made between 3 March and 31 March 2020 without paying a change booking fee (any fare difference must still be paid) – alternatively, you can exchange the value of your flight for a voucher (which must be used in the next 12 months). BA website
Easyjet Has temporarily waived flight change fees – so anyone with an existing or future booking can move their booking to another date until further notice. Easyjet website
Jet2 Sticking to its T&Cs (which state that if you cancel it does not provide any refund, and for date changes you have to pay a fee). The exception is if you've been to a "restricted country", in which case you can amend your flight to a later date without paying standard admin fees. You'll need to supply proof of travel to a restricted area and must pay any extra if your new flight costs more. Jet2 website
Norwegian Is waiving the change fee for bookings for travel up to and including 31 August 2020 to and from Austria, Italy and the USA and for all bookings for international flights (excluding within the Nordic countries) made between 6 March and 22 March 2020. Norwegian website
Ryanair Waiving flight change fees for all customers who wish to change their travel plans due to the current coronavirus pandemic from 13 March until 31 March 2020. N/A
Virgin Atlantic Won't charge change fees for bookings since 4 March 2020. Virgin Atlantic website

Hotel and package holiday cancellation and rebooking rights

Company Cancellation and rebooking policy Full info
Accor Hotels If you're travelling to or from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea and Taiwan up until 31 March 2020, you can change or cancel a booking free of charge. Accor Hotels website
Best Western Told us its hotels are independently owned and operated, and it's encouraging them to show "empathy and flexibility" – but no specific details. N/A
First Choice If you're no longer able to travel to your destination due to having visited a restricted country in the last 14 days, you can amend to a later departure date up to and including 31 October 2020. Alternatively, you can cancel and receive a full refund. First Choice website
Jet2 Holidays Sticking to its T&Cs (which state that if you cancel it does not provide any refund, and for date changes you have to pay a fee). The exception is if you've been to a "restricted country", in which case you can amend your holiday to a later date without paying standard admin fees. You'll need to supply proof of travel to a restricted area and must pay any extra if your new holiday costs more.
Jet2 Holidays website
Marriott International Waiving individual cancellation fees for hotel stays until 31 March 2020 if you're travelling to or from the following locations: Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, mainland China, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Macau, Malaysia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Samoa, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Marriott website
Tui If you are no longer able to travel to your holiday destination due to having visited a "restricted country" in the last 14 days, you will be able to amend to a later departure date up to and including 31 October 2020. Alternatively, you can cancel and receive a full refund. You will just need proof of travel to the restricted country. Tui website

What about car hire firms?

While we've seen quite a few changes to rebooking and cancellation policies from airlines, hotels and package holiday firms, we've seen fewer from car hire firms – partly because some are already quite flexible. We checked the websites of several major car hire firms and saw the following on Friday 13 March (for the latest, see our Covid-19 Coronavirus Help guide):

  • Avis says that any reservations for rentals in Europe due to start before 1 May 2020 can be changed or cancelled without fees. European bookings starting after this time can be changed without fees up to 72 hours before the start of the rental. Additionally, cancellation fees for pay later and pre-pay rental customers will be waived if they're affected by coronavirus-related travel bans.

  • Budget has an existing policy which means reservations can be changed without fees. "Pay at Counter" customers can cancel or change reservations at any time without fees.

  • Goldcar hasn't changed its policy, but its existing cancellation policy means you can cancel for free up to 24 hours before pick-up time, except for some non-refundable rates.

We've contacted Alamo, Enterprise, Europcar, Hertz, National and Sixt to see what their cancellation policies are.