Coronavirus Travel Advice and FAQs – everything you need to know

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Coronavirus travel cancellations: 5 Things you need to know

Since the COVID-19 pandemic ground travel to a halt, borders closed and flights were cancelled one by one, travellers across the country have had to cancel or postpone their holidays. The volume of travel refund applications has soared and many travellers are rightly concerned about what has happened to their hard-earned holiday funds.

Click here to read top five current travel concerns, answered by our Flight Centre experts.

How is Flight Centre Travel Group assisting customers?

We're sure your personal travel expert has been in constant contact with you, helping you reschedule your travel arrangements.

Our travel experts have been working tirelessly around the clock to interpret rapidly-changing rebooking and cancellation policies, keep abreast of global travel bans and provide customers with clear options.

We would like to thank our customers for their continued patience and understanding as we navigate these turbulent waters together.

Can I amend or cancel my flight without incurring charges?

Travel suppliers are having to change their rebooking and cancellation policies daily, if not hourly.

Each supplier, such as an airline, hotel or cruise liner, will have a specific cancellation and rebooking policy.

Some suppliers will offer refunds, while others may be offering credit vouchers instead of cash refunds. It all depends on each supplier's policies.

For example, travellers who have altered their plans outside of the airline's re-accommodation policy may be required to pay standard cancellation fees.

Under normal circumstances, supplier refunds can take a minimum of 12 weeks to process. This process will now take longer than usual due to the high level of refund requests at this time.

Your travel agent will proactively advise you on your best options.

Does Flight Centre charge a cancellation fee?

Flight Centre Travel experts are invested in assisting their customers above and beyond what the situation usually entails. This involves many hours spent rebooking travel and advising clients at all hours, often without remuneration from end suppliers.

However, Flight Centre Travel Group South Africa is not charging cancellation fees. In the case of suppliers charging fees, the customer will be required to pay the supplier fees, which goes directly to the relevant supplier.

Can I expect a refund if I decide to cancel?

A customer choosing to cancel travel – termed a "disinclination to travel" –  does not usually entail a full refund from the supplier. However, supplier cancellation and rebooking policies are changing by the hour.

If an airline has cancelled a flight, or the destination has a travel ban in place, customers may be entitled to a refund in some form or options to reschedule. This differs from case to case, dependent on the supplier policies, so customers are best advised to contact their travel expert.

Our Travel Experts check re-accommodation policies daily as they are made available by suppliers, ensuring that up-to-date information and options are promptly passed on to our customers. Customers can then make an informed decision regarding their travel.

Should I cancel or postpone my holiday?

It is recommended that customers postpone their travel, rather than cancelling. This will ensure that your trip is secured and, in most cases, save you paying supplier cancellation fees. Rescheduling travel is also the best thing you can do to support your travel professional and the vulnerable travel and tourism industry at this time.

Will travel insurance cover any penalties related to the coronavirus?

Generally, if you contract the coronavirus on a journey or if your flight is cancelled due to a travel ban, insurance will cover relevant penalties.

Flight Centre advises its customers to book comprehensive TIC travel insurance. Always contact your travel insurance provider should you require any additional information and to clarify what cover is included.

Please note: Disinclination to travel is excluded in terms of TIC cover. Disinclination to travel is when a customer chooses to cancel their flight when the airline has not cancelled the flight nor has the customer contracted the coronavirus.

Can I book travel now for the future?

Globally, most travel bans are still in place. It is impossible to predict what the situation will look like in the months to come. 

However, provided you are consulting with a travel expert, booking a trip now is one of the best ways you can support the travel and tourism industry. Please be aware however that your travel expert may be dealing with urgent enquiries around short-term travel, so we thank you for your patience.

In short, no one knows when travel restrictions will be lifted. Domestic travel will open first, followed by regional and international travel at a later stage.

There is no reason why you can't be booking travel for the future. Your travel expert will be able to advise you on the best flexible options and will outline the facts you need to be aware of should plans need to be changed.

When will Flight Centre stores reopen?

Flight Centre Travel Group's retail stores will remain closed as South Africa moves from risk level five to level four on 1 May 2020. We are working remotely until further notice and are available 24/7 to support you. We are proactively contacting our customers to assist with changes to their immediate travel taking place in May 2020.

How do I contact Flight Centre?

Rest assured that while we are not able to assist you in-store and in-person, we are still available.

If you have a question around an existing booking, please contact your personal Flight Centre travel expert. They are working remotely and are on call during office hours to assist you.

If you would like to make a future booking, or have a general travel enquiry, you can contact us on 087 740 50 00 or 087 740 51 05. You can also make future bookings on our website – however, we advise you to consult with an expert first.

What is the communicated turnaround time after submitting an enquiry?

Your travel expert should be your first port of call, but please do be patient as they will be working on multiple enquiries with information that is changing continuously.

When will we be allowed to travel once more?

Domestic travel and international travel in and out of South Africa will not take place until further notice. South Africa's borders will remain closed as we move from risk level five to level four on 1 May 2020, with the exception of repatriation flights in and out of South Africa.

I am a South African stranded abroad – how do I get home?

Should you be stranded abroad, contact your nearest South African Mission. A list of South Africa Missions abroad can be found here. They will be able to provide the most up to date information as South Africa moves between risk levels.

Travel and general advice

  •  Consult with your Flight Centre Travel Expert regarding your booking
  •  Don't travel without comprehensive travel insurance, regardless of the destination. 
  •  Allow for sufficient additional time at airports and ports of entry, locally and abroad, as strict health screening is being performed at airports worldwide.
  •  Confirm if any additional documents are required for your intended travel destination.
  •  Inform yourself and adopt these basic protective measures from the World Health Organization.
  •  If you are sick and due to travel, consult with your doctor before travelling.
  •  Please equip yourself with accurate information from the reputable sources outlined below. Please do your part and do not spread fake news or unverified information that may lead to unnecessary panic. 

Where can I find reputable coronavirus information?

The Flight Centre Travel Group adheres with the recommendations of official sources only. We advise all our customers and the general public to do the same.
Reputable sources include: