Locked-down travellers everywhere are searching for holiday flights to alleviate their itchy feet.

Most are looking to jet off later this year or in 2021, hoping that the coronavirus crisis will have disappeared by then. But they are eyeing up flight options with a sense of wariness over ticket flexibility, the pandemic having yielded chaos for refund claims.

In a bid to help UK passengers-in-waiting book flights with peace of mind, flight tips site Head for Points has read the small print so they don’t have to – and has revealed which airlines offer the most flexibility for bookings made right now for flights later in 2020 and 2021.

In a bid to help UK passengers-in-waiting book flights with peace of mind, fight tips site Head for Points has read the small print so they don't have to

In a bid to help UK passengers-in-waiting book flights with peace of mind, fight tips site Head for Points has read the small print so they don’t have to

It says that there are ‘a lot of options if you book now for travel in 2020’ but for early 2021, ‘it is a different story’. Be careful, it warns.

The site says that the following airlines ‘are not allowing voluntary cancellations, for cash or vouchers, for tickets booked now for travel in 2021’: British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Aer Lingus and Iberia.

Lufthansa, on the other hand, ‘guarantees to let you move a flight booked for January to April 2021’ and KLM ‘guarantees to let you move a flight booked for any future date’.

Read on for the details Head for Points unearthed about booking with each of these carriers.

British Airways

There is no flexibility for bookings made now for travel in 2021 with British Airways

There is no flexibility for bookings made now for travel in 2021 with British Airways

‘Bookings made until July 31 for travel completed by December 31, 2020, are eligible for free date and destination changes,’ explains Head for Points. ‘However, whilst the usual change fee has been waived, you will have to pay any difference in fare.’

It adds: ‘You can also request a “Book With Confidence” voucher. The same date restrictions apply as above. The voucher is valid for two years and you must travel before April 30, 2022. The voucher can be used as payment or part-payment, so you can top it up with cash if required.

‘There is no flexibility for bookings made now for travel in 2021.’

More information can be found here

Virgin Atlantic

With Virgin Atlantic, bookings made on or before June 30, 2020, for travel before December 31, 2020, are eligible for rebooking until September 30, 2022

With Virgin Atlantic, bookings made on or before June 30, 2020, for travel before December 31, 2020, are eligible for rebooking until September 30, 2022

You’ll need to nail down your plans to avoid fees with Virgin Atlantic.

Head for Points says: ‘Bookings made on or before June 30, 2020, for travel before December 31, 2020, are eligible for rebooking until September 30, 2022. The change fee will be waived once only, so you can’t change your mind several times. You will have to pay any difference in fare.

‘If you do not know where you want to go, you can complete the “open ticket” form which will let Virgin Atlantic keep your booking open and let you rebook at your convenience. The same date restrictions apply as above.

‘There is no flexibility for bookings made now for travel in 2021.’

More information here.

Emirates

Head for Points says: ‘Bookings made on or before June 30, 2020, for travel prior to November 30, 2020, are eligible for an “open ticket”. Opening a ticket extends its validity for 24 months and can be rebooked on any flight to the same destination or region at any time with no fees.

‘Alternatively, you can request a travel voucher for the value of your ticket. This is valid for one year from date of issue and can be used for any Emirates flight or Emirates product or services.

‘There is no flexibility for bookings made now for travel from December 1, 2020.’

For more information, click here.

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways offers several options for bookings made before September 30, 2020

Qatar Airways offers several options for bookings made before September 30, 2020

There is no flexibility for bookings made now for travel in 2021 with Qatar Airways, says Head for Points.

But the site says that the following options are available for bookings made before September 30, 2020, for travel starting on or before December 31.

‘You can hold on to your ticket and extend its validity for use by 24 months from the original booking.

‘You can request a travel voucher for the original value of your booking, plus 10 per cent. The voucher is valid for 24 months from issue and can be used on any flight in the Qatar Airways network.

‘You can swap the value of your booking to Qmiles at a rate of US$1 to 100 Qmiles.’

For more information, click here.

Etihad

If you booked your flight before June 30 to travel any time until November 30, 2020, you can change your flight for free.

More information here

Lufthansa

The German airline has one of the most flexible policies.

Head for Points says: ‘Bookings made before June 30, 2020, for travel starting on or before April 30, 2021, are eligible for rebooking. Your rebooked trip must be started prior to December 31, 2021. Whilst the change fee is waived for your first change, you must pay any fare difference.

‘There is no flexibility for bookings made now for travel from May 1, 2021.

Read more here.

KLM

If you book a flight now with KLM, you're protected for flights in 2021, says Head for Points

If you book a flight now with KLM, you’re protected for flights in 2021, says Head for Points

The Dutch carrier offers plenty of options.

Head for Points writes: ‘For new bookings made after April 22, 2020, you can change your flight dates without paying a change fee. You will have to pay any difference in fare.

‘You can also use the full value of your booking to change your destination. You will not have to pay a change fee when rebooking on KLM, Air France, Delta Air Lines, Virgin Atlantic, and Kenya Airways flights.

‘There does not appear to be a cut-off date, so you should be protected for flights booked now for travel in 2021.’

You can read more about KLM’s flight policy here.

Aer Lingus

With Aer Lingus there is no flexibility for bookings made now for travel from October 1, 2020

With Aer Lingus there is no flexibility for bookings made now for travel from October 1, 2020

‘You can change the date of your trip if you are due to travel prior to September 30, 2020,’ writes Head for Points. ‘Change fees are waived, but any fare difference will apply.

‘If you are due to travel prior to June 30, 2020, you are eligible for a travel voucher for the full amount of our booking plus 10 per cent. The voucher is valid for five years from issue date and can be used across multiple bookings.

‘There is no flexibility for bookings made now for travel from October 1, 2020.’

You can read more here

Iberia

For Iberia, says Head for Points, bookings made prior to June 30 for travel starting on or before December 31, 2020, are eligible for a date, time, origin or destination change free of charge. You will have to pay any fare difference.

‘There is no flexibility for bookings made now for travel from January 1, 2021.

For more information, click here

Rob Burgess, editor of www.headforpoints.com, said: ‘In general, as long as you book during June for travel during 2020, most airlines will guarantee you a degree of flexibility to change your ticket or switch it for a voucher. Travellers booking for 2021 should be wary, however – at present, very few airlines are offering any flexibility if you voluntarily choose not to travel. 

‘Unless your flight ends up being cancelled you could easily find that you don’t have a leg to stand on, with your travel insurance also refusing to repay you.’



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