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Conronavirus impacting your trip? Refunds, waivers and other need-to-know info for Houston travelers

Growing concerns about COVID-19 has many cruise goers and flyers wanting to switch plans or get their money back.

HOUSTON — Like thousands throughout the country, some Houston residents are having to reschedule or all together cancel their spring break and other trips due to travel restrictions set in response to the coronavirus.

Whether you are planning to hit the skies or sail into the sunset, here is a breakdown of the latest cancellation policies and health-related protocals being enforced at the main air and cruise lines serving the Houston area.

Find out which companies are waiving change fees, who is eligible for a full refund and if you may be required to complete a health screening before boarding.

Flying out of town?

Airlines are starting to offer travel waivers due to the growing concern over the new coronavirus, COVID-19. 

Some airlines are offering to waive fees to change an itinerary or cancel a flight. If there is a fare difference to book a new flight, passengers should expect to pay that difference.


JetBlue is suspending change and cancel fees on all new bookings made between February 27 and March 11 for travel through June 1.

American Airlines says any ticket purchased between March 1 at 4:30 p.m. central time (5:30 p.m. eastern) and March 16 at 11:59 p.m. central time will not incur change fees as long as the changes are made up to 14 days before the flight. Fourteen days is the quarantine period health experts recommend because that's the standard quarantine time for other types of coronavirus. 


Alaska Airlines is offering a waiver for tickets purchased between February 27 and March 12 for travel through June 1. Passengers can make a one-time change. They can also cancel the ticket and deposit the money into My Wallet to be used on a different flight later.

"Based on advice from medical experts in infectious disease, we’re urging guests not to travel if they’re sick with an acute respiratory illness," Alaska said on its website about its "peace of mind" waiver.


American Airlines is waiving change fees and refunds for certain flights purchased through the airline. 

The company is waiving its change fee for inbound and outbound flights servicing the following Italian cities if the ticket was bought before Feb. 27 and the original flight date is between Feb. 27 and  April 24. 

  • Bolongna (BLQ)
  • Florence (FLR)
  • All major Milan international airports (LIN, MXP, BGY)
  • Naples (NAP)
  • Pisa (PSA)
  • Rome (FCO)
  • Turin (TRN)
  • Venice (VCE)
  • Verona (VRN)

Travelers will not be allowed to change the origin or destination city and must rebook in the same cabin or pay the difference.

Eligible trips will be allowed a one-time change online. Click here to find out if your trip is on the list.

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If you're interested in delaying travel to any of the listed cities, the airline will waive change or cancellation fees if the ticket was purchased before Feb. 27 and the customer can travel up to 331 days after their original ticket date. 

If you're looking to change the flight destination, you must contact reservations at 800-433-7300 (or 800-633-3711 for Spanish speakers) before April 24. 

Refunds are available for unused tickets to the cities listed below. Customers much contact Reservations and cancel before your scheduled departure.

  • Wuhan, China (WUH) if ticket was purchased between Jan. 23 and travel is scheduled for between Jan. 23 and March 31.
  • Seoul Incheon, South Korea (ICN) if ticket was bought before Feb. 24 and travel is scheduled for between Feb. 24 - April 24. 
  • Hong Kong (HKG) if ticket was bought before Jan. 28 and travel is scheduled for between Jan. 28 - April 24. The same requirements apply to Beijing (PEK) and Shanghai (PVG) flights.

Click here for more details regarding the requirements for having change or cancellation fees waived for flights to those cities.

Customers check their refund status, request a refund for certain flights or request a receipt at this link.


Delta Airlines has suspended service between the U.S. and the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Beijing until April 30th, after U.S. Health and Human Services issued travel restrictions. The airline says that they will allow customers to make a one-time change to travel plans without having to pay a change fee. For Shanghai and Beijing, customers will have until April 30 to do so. 

A reduction of service between the U.S. and South Korea was put in place on Feb. 26. Delta will honor their promise of allowing customers to make a one-time change to travel plans without incurring a change fee through April 30.

Delta previously had a summer seasonal service between JFK airport in New York and Venice, Italy that was scheduled to begin on April 1. That service has now been rescheduled and will begin on May 1. 

For Delta flights between the U.S. and Italy, the airline will not charge change fees for a one-time change to travel plans until after April 30 for the cities of Bologna, Milan, Rome, Turin and Venice. 


Frontier Airlines hasn't posted any advisories regarding coronavirus. Call 801-401-9000 to make changes to your reservation or visit the airline website for details regarding its cancellation/flight change policy.


United Airlines is waiving change fees and allowing refunds for flights to or from more than a dozen airports with connections in Italy, China and Korea with original travel dates through April 30.

  • Wuhan (WUH) (exception - for original travel dates March 29.)
  • Beijing (PEK) 
  • Chengdu (CTU) 
  • Shanghai (PVG) 
  • Hong Kong (HKG) 
  • Seoul-Incheon (ICN)
  • Bologna (BLQ)
  • Genoa (GOA)
  • All international Milan airports (MXP, LIN, BGY)
  • Trieste (TRS)
  • Turin (TRN)
  • Venice (VCE)
  • Verona (VRN)

Please visit this link from the company's website to search by destination.

The airline has suspended all operations between the United States, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Shanghai through April 30. It has also stopped some flights to Tokyo Narita, Osaka, Singapore and Seoul until further notice. 

Ticket sales for MileagePlus Award travel and flights coming from China or Iran on partnering airlines have also been suspended during this period.

United Airline is enforcing presidential restrictions for travelers coming in from the People's Republic of China or the Islamic Republic of Iran in the past 14 days.  

U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents will be subject to additional restrictions and health screenings when arriving to the U.S.

Non-U.S. citizens who have visited mainland China or Iran in the past 14 days will not be allowed to enter the United States.


Southwest Airlines doesn't have flights to Europe or Asia and has not made any changes to its scheduled flights or routes due to coronavirus.

The company never charges customers cancellation or flight change fees. The funds can be applied to future trips as long as travel is cancelled within 10 minutes of the scheduled departure, according to the airline guidelines. 


Spirit Airlines is encouraging its customers to reach them via the contact info available on this page regarding bookings. 

The airline provides flights between the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean. 

No restrictions being enforced at this time.

What if I booked a cruise?

Royal Caribbean International has cancelled or modified routes in Asia and has stopped ships from departing mainland China and Hong Kong. U.S. guests on cruises in Asia that are scheduled to depart before March 23 are allowed to rebook their trip without penalty at a later date.

According to the company website, it is not allowing guest coming in from mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea or Italy within the past 15 days of their trip to board. The same rules apply to those who have had physical contact with a coronavirus patient and those who demonstrate flu-like symptoms.

The cruise line is also requiring specialized health screenings for some travelers. Guests will be denied boarding if they have a fever or low oximetry.

The line said any guest who is denied boarding due to the restrictions will be given a full refund.

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The cruise line has other protocals for Non-U.S. passport holders that are detailed on the company itinerary updates page. Click here to read.

The Cruise Lines International Association released a statement March 4 requiring Carnival Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line and other association members to prohibit the boarding of travelers from South Korea, Iran, China and certain port cities in Italy within in 14 days of the customers scheduled embarkation.

The cruise lines are also being advised to conduct pre-board health screening on travelers who plan to board a ship outside the specified time frame. The same rules apply for travelers who had had physical contact with a coronavirus patient or coronavirus patient caretaker before their trip.

CLIA leaders said the association is closely monitoring announcements from the World Health Organization, but it doesn’t feel port restrictions are necessary.

Click here to read the refund/cancellation policy for Carnival Cruise Line. Visit the line’s advisory page for updates on procedures and routes.

Click here to read the refund/cancellation policy for Disney Cruise Line.


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