Can I cancel my flight? Read this first

(Photo by Stefan Fluck on Unsplash)

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, travel plans often change. Flights get cancelled all the time while countries implement new measures and rules regarding inessential travel.

There is a lot of uncertainty, so it’s natural that people often ask, “Can I cancel my flight?”. Perhaps you are wondering the same; read on to make sure you won’t lose your money. In this article, we will answer your questions about how and when passengers can cancel their flight bookings.

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If you want to know what happens if the airline cancels your flight, see our separate article. If you are interested in cancelling voluntarily, continue reading.

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I changed my mind - Can I cancel my flight?

The firm you booked a flight with hasn’t cancelled your trip but you have changed your mind. The question is, should you go ahead and cancel, or wait some more?

The first thing you should do is check the refund policy. If you can get a refund, it’s simple - you’ll cancel your flight and get your money back to your credit card or whichever payment method you chose.

However, if you’re not sure you can receive a refund, don’t make a rash decision. Given the current situation, it is possible that your flight gets cancelled later anyway. This will automatically mean that you will be given a full refund.

On the other hand, you shouldn’t count on that and leave it too late to cancel. Depending on the airline’s policy, you might have a chance to make a change to your booking or get a voucher if you cancel within the given deadlines. Even if you have to pay a fee, this alternative is better than losing all of your money.

If you have travel insurance, you might be able to receive some reimbursement whenever you cancel, no matter the case - but that depends on the type of the insurance.

The best case scenario is when the airline lets you cancel without charging you. Then nothing is stopping you from cancelling your booking (especially if your accommodation is easy to cancel too).

Luckily, many airlines have changed their policies and are now providing great flexibility. Some have even abolished all change and cancellation fees.

Moreover, air carriers are continually updating their schedules due to the ongoing pandemic. These changes can happen a few weeks before your scheduled departure, or even at the last minute. Some flights get cancelled only 48 hours or even 24 hours before departure.

Fortunately, you will be able to request a refund in these cases. However, if you cancel voluntarily and accept a voucher, you won’t be able to exchange it for money later.

What happens if your flight is cancelled?

Now you know how you can cancel your flight and what to expect. But what if the airline is the one cancelling?

Over the past year, there have been many cancellations because of the coronavirus pandemic. Unfortunately, many people don’t know what their rights are in this case - do you?

Here are some essential points every air passenger should be aware of:

  1. The airline should offer you either a flight cancellation refund, or an alternative flight to your original travel destination.
  2. If you are connecting flights but it turns out that the next part of your journey is cancelled, you should be offered an alternate flight if possible, or a return flight and a (partial) refund of your tickets - but they need to be on one booking.
  3. Depending on the flight distance and your waiting time, you might also be eligible for flight cancellation compensation. However, if the cancellations are due to extraordinary circumstances, the air carrier is not obliged to reimburse you (apart from giving you a refund of your ticket). Read more about flight compensation here.
  4. In case of a long waiting time, passengers have the right to care. This means the airline has to provide you with (vouchers for) food and beverages or cover your expenses later. Keep your receipts together with your boarding pass and other relevant documents. If you need transport and hotel accommodation, the airline has to cover these expenses as well.

Learn more about your rights under European Regulation 261.

To sum up: Can I cancel my flight?

It isn’t unusual for travel plans to change, especially these days. However, it is usually best not to rush. If it’s possible, wait some more before you act. The airline might cancel the flight instead and give you an automatic refund.

But if not, it’s better to go ahead and cancel before you miss the deadline, which assures you will at least get a chance to change your booking, get a partial refund or a voucher.

Make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions before booking and/or cancelling your flight yourself. If you have any additional questions, please contact directly the airline or travel agent you have booked with.

Make sure to carefully read the terms and conditions before booking and/or cancelling your flight yourself. If you have any additional questions, please contact directly the airline or travel agent you have booked with.

Meanwhile, have you had any disrupted flights in the past 3 years? Check whether you’re eligible for flight compensation - we will help you claim it.

Stay safe!