The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a huge number of cancelled flights, and most countries – in an effort to control the spread – have introduced travel bans which restrict entry for non-residents.
If you have had a flight cancelled, or are unable to board your flight because of a travel ban in the country you’re travelling to, it might seem natural to expect a refund – but unfortunately, due to the exceptionally unprecedented circumstances, it’s not as simple as that.
At this time, airlines have stopped issuing refunds to focus on customer service and protecting passengers. All refunds will be delayed until the situation stabilises. Once the situation does stabilise, and if your airline allows, we can advocate for refunds on your behalf. Please check your airline’s policy. If your airline does appear to allow refunds, we recommend following up with us in 4-6 weeks to follow-up.
Below are some common questions we’ve been asked, that should shed a bit more light on your situation.
I booked my flight through StudentUniverse and it’s been cancelled: do I request a refund from you, or from the airline?
If you booked your flight through us and it’s been cancelled, we can ask the airline to issue a refund, but ultimately it is the decision of the airline. Most airlines are denying these requests. If you request a refund from an airline that we know is not giving any out, then we will inform you of that, and try to secure travel credit instead. If you request a refund from an airline that sometimes gives refunds, we’ll assess your exact situation, to figure out if you’re eligible.
What’s travel credit?
Travel credit is where you can put the value of your original ticket towards a new ticket at a later date. Travel credit is definitely not a guarantee, but is much more likely to be granted comparative to a full refund. Again, it will depend on the specific airline’s policy. For more information on this, check out our blog: What Travel Credit Means and How to Use It.
If I do get a refund, how long will it take to process?
In the unlikely event you get a full refund from the airline, we expect it to take around 3-4 weeks to come through. The normal time would be about a week, but due to extreme demand on our customer services, things like this aren’t happening as quickly as they do during normal times. Please be patient and try to avoid contacting us unless you need to cancel or change a flight in the next few days.
Am I eligible for a refund if my school forced me to go home early?
We’re aware that many universities, colleges and schools around the world have sent their students home, and we appreciate this is particularly difficult for international students. If you have a flight booked for later in the year, your flight may or may not be eligible for a refund, depending on the airline. Most airlines have issued one free change and you may be eligible to cancel for future credit. If you would like us to petition to the airline for a special request, we will advocate on your behalf. Please understand this process can take several months to get a resolution and we cannot guarantee it will result in a refund.
My event was cancelled so there’s no point in me flying: can I get a refund?
We understand a lot of events have been cancelled due to concerns over COVID-19. Regardless of the situation, we have to stick to airline policy. Most airlines have issued one free change and you may be eligible to cancel for future credit. If you would like us to petition to the airline for a special request, we will advocate on your behalf.
What about if there’s a travel ban that prevents me from entering a country: can I get reimbursed then?
If you are actually not allowed to enter a country because of a travel restriction, you may be eligible for a refund, depending on your airline’s policy. However, a travel ban does not mean that you are automatically eligible for a refund. It depends on the airline’s waivers and if the travel ban definitely applies to you.
My friend got a refund – does this mean I can too?
Most airlines are not offering full refunds at this point, except in very specific circumstances. It’s possible that your friend may have qualified for something, but more likely that your friend received a refund in the form of a future travel credit. In short, we can offer you whatever your ticket is eligible for, please trust that we are working hard to offer you the BEST option we can find for your ticket!
Will my travel insurance cover the cost of my cancelled flight?
If you purchased travel insurance when booking your ticket, you may be covered for flight cancellations. This will depend on your specific policy, so do check with your travel insurance provider.
For more information on travel and the coronavirus, check out our dedicated FAQ page.