Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is spreading quickly around the world. With the number of cases in Italy hitting 1700 over the weekend - a 50% jump in reported cases in a day - as well as a swelling death toll in China and across the world, the spread of this virus is disrupting the plans of business and holiday travellers. France has closed the Louvre indefinitely. If you have an overseas trip booked, here's what the Australian airlines say you can do if you want to cancel or change your travel plans.
Smart Traveller Advice
The Australian government has issued advice through its Smart Traveller site.
It has lifted its advice level to "Do Not Travel" for China and Iran over concerns about the virus. And South Korea, Japan, Italy and Mongolia are now tagged with advice to exercise a high degree of caution.
You can see a full list of travel advice here.
Qantas' coronavirus policy
Qantas has provided a thorough run down of what to do if you have a booking to a coronavirus affected destination.
If you've got a flight booking to mainland China between now and 24 May 2020, you can apply to either:
- Rebook your flight
- Cancel your ticket and retain its value in credit
- Cancel your flights for a full refund. Change and cancellation fees will not be charged to these customers.
They also note that other potential destinations may have restrictions that are independent of Australian government and World Health Organisation advice. So you'll need to do your own checking as well.
Virgin Australia's coronavirus policy
Virgin Australia doesn't operate flights to and from mainland China, although it does have a commercial policy in place for customers travelling to and from or transiting through mainland China including informal connectors on other airlines, as well as codeshare partners that operate to and from mainland China.
That policy allows guests to:
- Change their booking to the same destination for travel no later than 30 days from original travel date with change fees and fare difference waived
- Change their booking to a different destination for travel no later than 30 days from original travel date with change fees waived
- A Travel Bank credit issued with cancellation fees waived
- Full refund of Velocity Redemption flights
- Full refund to original payment form
A statement provided by a Virgin Australia spokesperson says, "We are regularly reviewing the information provided to us from health authorities and governments and will update process or operations as needed on the basis of this advice or information".
Virgin Australia has some information on its Travel alerts page. The information there says to check the government's SmartTraveller site or to call the airline if you have any questions.
Jetstar's coronavirus policy
Although Jetstar doesn't run services into many of the countries listed by the government on Smart Traveller, it does run a Seoul-Gold Coast route. That route has been suspended until 30 June 2020 in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Australian government’s recent travel advice for South Korea and the subsequent drop in demand.
Customers can choose to defer their travel dates until March 2021 or ask for a refund if they no longer wish to travel.
Travellers who have commenced their outward journey are asked to contact Jetstar's customer team to discuss options for a return flight home.
Jetstar does have a couple of affiliated airlines, Jetstar Asia and Jetstar Japan, that do run services to mainland China. Passengers on those airlines can get refunds or reschedule as well.
Tiger Airways' coronavirus policy
Tiger isn't running any international routes – it did operate a service to Bali for a period of time but that was cancelled a while ago. So, there's no need to cancel or change overseas travel with them unless you've put together your own itinerary and are using them to get to an Australian port to pick up an international flight.