We answer common questions about travel plans disrupted by Covid-19.
Travel plans affected by the coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know.
Airlines are usually either re-scheduling or refunding passengers on cancelled flights. Your airline should contact you to advise what’s happening.
If you booked through a travel agent, contact the agent.
The government is advising New Zealanders not to travel overseas due to the risk of Covid-19. If you need to cancel your flight, your options will normally depend on your ticket. On a flexible fare, you should get a full refund.
If it’s a standard fare, ask the airline about getting a credit to use towards travel at a later date. You may also be able to upgrade to a flexi-fare, though you’ll normally have to pay extra.
Airlines may also be offering additional arrangements.
Air New Zealand is offering the option to hold fares in credit for any international or domestic booking between 20 March and 31 May 2020. You will need to pay any fare difference when redeeming the credit.
Airlines operating in our market must comply with the Fair Trading Act. This means their terms and conditions, including their cancellation terms, must be fair. If you think you’re being unfairly penalised, complain to the Commerce Commission.
In general, insurers won’t cover delays and cancellations caused by epidemics and pandemics – or reimburse you if you choose to postpone your travel. Insurance doesn’t cover change of mind.
Check your policy to see what it provides and contact your insurer before making changes to your travel bookings.
If you think your insurer isn’t meeting its obligations or you’ve been misled about the cover your policy provides, make a complaint to the Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman.
If you bought your travel insurance policy before Covid-19 became a known event, you may be covered for health costs if you become ill.
However, insurers differ in the approach they’ve taken to setting cut-off dates for Covid-19 cover. Check with your insurer to confirm whether you’re covered.
With most policies, you’ll have a cooling-off period after you buy when you can cancel and get a refund. However, cancellations outside of the cooling-off period will depend on the terms and conditions of your policy.
Southern Cross’ TravelCare Single Trip Policy states you can cancel before the start date of your journey and get a refund, less a $35 cancellation fee. The exception is if you’ve already made a claim under the policy – no refund applies in this case.
Check your policy to see what it provides if you need to cancel your cover.
Contact the accommodation provider. The company should have a cancellation policy that explains what happens if you want to cancel. You may be charged a cancellation fee.
Many providers are being flexible about cancellations at this time. It’s in their interests to do so, as they’ll be relying on consumers rebooking later.
If you used a booking site, such as Airbnb, get in touch with it. Airbnb’s website states it’s currently providing refunds for reservations made on or before 14 March 2020, with a check-in date of 14 April 2020, or earlier, and with at least one night occurring between 14 March and 14 April 2020.
If your accommodation provider isn’t honouring its terms and conditions, and you paid by credit or debit card, contact your bank to ask about a chargeback (a refund to your card).
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is advising New Zealanders to reconsider taking any overseas cruises. The Covid-19 virus can spread rapidly on ships. Major cruise lines have already announced cancellations. Check with the cruise line or your travel agent.
In New Zealand, cruise ships have been banned from docking until at least 30 June 2020.
Check the Safe Travel website for the latest advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on travel restrictions.
If you have concerns about your health, contact the dedicated Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453.
You can also find information about the virus on the Ministry of Health website.