See if you’ve heard this one before: Americans are worried about how a global pandemic will impact travel plans, so they are feverishly looking into cancellation policies at major airlines and hotel chains.
In another case of déjà vu all over again, that’s what’s happening now as the Delta variant continues its spread and threatens to wreak havoc on travel plans in much the same way that the original coronavirus did last year.
The Delta variant has already rattled consumer confidence in the United States. The University of Michigan’s preliminary sentiment index for early August fell by 13.5% from July to a level that was just below the April 2020 low of 71.8. When consumer confidence falls that sharply, it usually means Americans are having second thoughts about spending money — and worried whether the money they’ve already spent booking plane and hotel reservations will be returned in the event their travel plans get canceled.
The U.S. hasn’t announced plans to return to widespread lockdowns, at least as of yet. Still, you might be reconsidering your own upcoming travel plans.
The best policy is to contact your airline, hotel or cruise operator directly — and the sooner the better. However, here’s a quick primer on current cancellation policies at major carriers and hotels, as further detailed on travel site The Points Guy:
American Airlines is no longer charging fees to change or cancel domestic U.S. flights, short-haul international flights or select long-haul international flights. You’ll only have to pay the fare difference when changing flights. There is one exception, though: basic economy fares bought on or after April 1, 2021 for travel originating in the U.S. cannot be changed or canceled unless a travel waiver is in place. Currently, however, there is no specific waiver for the Delta variant.
Delta Air Lines Inc.
Change or cancellation fees on flights within the U.S., or on international itineraries starting in the United States are no longer being charged by Delta. You’re simply liable for the fare difference if you switch to a more expensive flight. While Delta is temporarily allowing free changes on basic economy tickets for travel through Dec. 31, 2021, they aren’t usually granted such flexibility.
United has removed its change and cancellation fees for flights within the U.S. and Puerto Rico; for flights between the U.S. and Mexico and the Caribbean; and all international flights departing the U.S. United will also allow customers to make free changes to basic economy tickets purchased through Dec. 31, 2021. After that date, you can upgrade basic economy tickets to standard economy for a nonrefundable fee and then cancel your ticket. Just note that you’re still on the hook for any fare difference.
Hilton Hotels and Resorts
Cancellation policies that were in place at the time of your reservation still apply. But remember, all Hilton hotels offer fully flexible booking options, with most giving you the flexibility to change or cancel up to 24 hours before arrival.
All Hyatt reservations booked on or after July 1, 2020, are subject to the cancellation, deposit and/or refund policy disclosed at the time of reservation. Because individual Hyatt hotels are allowed to adjust their policies during high-demand periods, you should always review the cancellation policy of the specific property you’re looking at before confirming your booking. Hyatt has stated that it remains committed to offering rates with flexible cancellation options at all hotels globally.
Marriott customers who made reservations from July 6, 2020 onward (for arrival dates through Aug. 31, 2021) can change or cancel their reservations at no charge up to 24 hours before the scheduled arrival date. However, reservations with pre-paid rates and other exclusions are still subject to the rate offer rules provided at the time of reservation. For customers making new reservations for arrival dates on or after Sept. 1, 2021, hotel cancellation policies at that time apply, with changes to reservations being subject to any rate differences.
If you booked a room for stays until Dec. 31, 2021 in any Radisson Hotel Group hotel in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and Asia Pacific, the most flexible options allow free cancellation or modification of your reservation up to 24 hours before arrival. For other rates and/or promotional offers, consult the specific terms and conditions. For stays in the U.S., Canada, Caribbean and Latin America, the individual hotel cancellation policies in place at the time of booking apply.
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Last updated: August 27, 2021