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 March 26, 2020

Coronavirus: Travel Considerations Amid a Global Crisis

Young woman in international airport with luggage and passport looking at flight info display

Managing Your Travel During the Pandemic

You’ve planned your trip for months, only to have the swift onset of a global pandemic dash your dreams. You’ve made the wise decision to cancel your trip, or perhaps the decision was made for you. While your plans may be off, there are still tickets and reservations and rentals to try and sort out, with seemingly little certainty as to whether you’ll get your money back. And though there may be plenty left to worry about, we’re here to help put your mind at ease about those unfulfilled travel plans.

Frequently Asked Travel Questions Amid Coronavirus Crisis:


Travel Cancellations

I chose to cancel a trip, do I have a right to refund from: Hotels? Airlines? Rental car companies? Airbnb?

Refund policies differ wildly from industry to industry but are based upon the written policies put in place by the respective companies. As travel restrictions have tightened, hotels have begun to loosen cancellation policies and waive fees, albeit within certain date ranges. If you have a reservation for summer, it might fall outside of the window offered by most chains.

Airbnb has extended its Extenuating Circumstances policy for cancellation, offering penalty-free cancellations worldwide between March 14th and April 14th.

Airlines are similarly offering no-fee cancellations, but given the volume of people looking to cancel their flights, most customer service representatives won’t process your cancellation/refund until within a few days of your scheduled flight. So as much as you might want to cancel straight away, it’s best to wait. Many websites will allow you to cancel any trips booked on air miles and then wait to call to reinstate those frequent flier points.

My trip was canceled due to a travel ban or other government action. Do I have the right to a refund?

In light of travel restrictions enacted around the world, most airlines are offering waived fees on changes and cancellations on flights, and according to the Department of Transportation guidelines, if the airline cancels the flight, you are entitled to a refund even on non-refundable tickets. Therefore, many may have their flights refunded due to travel bans.

Travel Policies

Does my travel insurance policy have to cover me, even if I’m not sick myself?

Travel insurance is designed to protect you and your investment in the event of unforeseen circumstances. However, not every plan will cover you if you choose to cancel your trip due to coronavirus concerns and not an actual illness on your part. In looking at travel insurance, be sure to read the terms and provisions for acceptable cancellation; look for a plan with Cancel For Any reason coverage to avoid any such concerns.

International Travel

I’m traveling overseas and need to get back home (to the U.S., Canada or U.K.).  Are airlines required to help me?

While American citizens are still able to travel back to the U.S. amidst the travel lockdown, they shouldn’t expect any assistance at present. Many airlines have capped fares and waived change fees, but as of yet there is no broad guidance mandating airlines to bring Americans home, so you’ll have to purchase your ticket like any other trip.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated that while the government is working with airlines to bring as many Canadians home as possible, some will be stuck in place for the time being, given flight cancellations, travel restrictions worldwide, and those with symptoms quarantined in foreign lands.

The U.K. government advises citizens in an area under lockdown or quarantine to stay in place and follow guidelines, as the government will only “organize assisted departure in exceptional circumstances.”

I’m a student. Will my Visa be affected? What rights do I have?

The travel ban introduced in response to the coronavirus has left international students in a, particularly precarious position. Colleges and universities have moved to cancel in-person classes, which presents an issue for foreign-born students attending on a visa, who are by regulations only permitted one online class. However, recent guidance offers more latitude in light of the situation across the globe, offering flexibility for schools and students alike to ensure they continue their education.

Likely you will have questions about what you can recoup. Remember that our LegalShield can connect you with a provider law firm that can answer any questions on personal legal matters with plans, starting at $29.95 per month.

LegalShield provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield Members through member-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. See a plan contract at for specific state of residence for complete terms, coverage, amounts, and conditions. This is not intended to be legal or medical advice. Please contact a medical professional for medical advice or assistance and an attorney for legal advice or assistance.


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