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British Airways Boeing 747-400 on short final in Los Angeles (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

British Airways to Waive Change Fees Amid Coronavirus Nerves

British Airways has become the latest airline to encourage nervous travelers to buy tickets by waiving change fees. The move is largely aimed at passengers who are nervous about the impact of the recent COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak, which began in China and has since spread to dozens of countries around the world.

British Airways is the first UK airline to make this move. A number of notable U.S. carriers, like American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and JetBlue have taken similar action.

British Airways’ policy will allow passengers to change their booked travel by a March 16 deadline. Travelers will be able to change flights up until departure time, and they will only need to pay the differences in fares between flights.

“As some customers may choose to change or delay their travel plans at the moment, it’s important we offer them greater flexibility,” said Andrew Brem, British Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer “By waiving our change fee our customers can have the added confidence to book a trip with British Airways that suits them.”

Though many passengers are nervous about contracting the virus, others are worried about the financial risks of traveling during the outbreak. 

JetBlue, the first airline to change its policy, allows passengers to change itineraries for flights before June 1; fliers have until March 11 to make a change. Alaska Airlines has a similar policy.

American, meanwhile, is waving fees up to 14 days before travel, but only for customers who buy tickets between March 1 and March 16. That carrier has not specified if the waiver applies only to flights before a certain date.

Since the Coronavirus outbreak has been labeled a “known event” by most insurance companies, people are unlikely to be reimbursed for extra medical or travel expenses caused by the outbreak, a drawback preventing many people from booking or traveling.

British Airways’ move, along with JetBlue’s, American’s, and Alaska’s, encourages people to book travel on follow through on their bookings by giving them more flexibility on when they travel, preventing them from skipping their trips altogether.

John McDermott
John McDermott
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