Just one issue overshadows everything currently, the Covid-19 epidemic. Its effect on International commercial Airline travel has been disastrous and non-essential passenger travel from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airports (really, all airports in eastern Africa), has been halted with a strict exemption given to chartered and expatriation flights. Under normal circumstances, the fare rules and conditions issued by airlines on your ticket would not come to bear. But these are not normal times; fare rules are sure to change. Therefore, if you are a flyer who is currently holding an airline ticket that you cannot use as long as the pandemic continues, then read on to find out how the following airlines, intend to honour their promises to their ticket holders.
If you are holding a Kenya Airways ticket and you are due to travel internationally before the 30th of June 2020 then you must have cancelled your ticket by now, given that you may not get to travel at any time before then. As a result of your cancellation, therefore, your cancelled ticket and or the fare that you paid, is now valid for a period of one year from the date of issue. All ‘Change fees’ have been waived for all tickets, but this waiver does not apply to those holding domestic tickets for travel within Kenya. There is a limit though to the number of times that you can change your ticket. Your travel date or destination can be changed just two times without incurring any charge.
Also, your ticket can be changed to a flight of equal or lesser value on the Kenya Airways network of flights. However, if the price on the new flight is of lesser value, there will be no refund to you on the difference. On the other hand, if the new flight costs much more than the fare that you had paid, then you will need to pay for the difference if you choose to go ahead with that flight. You can also choose to convert your ticket to a travel voucher that is valid for one year from the date of issue. In general, Kenya airways will follow the fare rules of your ticket when calculating the value of your travel voucher. To be clear, you can only qualify for a travel voucher if you had bought a ticket before the 30th of April 2020 and for travel until the 30th of June 2020. And, note that Kenya airways will only offer a change to a different destination, subject to flight availability and the fare availability for that particular destination as the Covid-19 crisis continues or is managed. Please note that currently, Kenya Airways is not providing any cash refunds.
Emirates airline has given a concession of travel for up to 2 years for ticket holders. This travel period is applicable on all tickets booked before the 31st of May where passengers were due to travel before the 31st of August 2020 but, have now cancelled their tickets due to the prohibition on non-essential travel during this Covid -19 period. This concession is applicable from the date of issue, for any flight to the same destination, or within the same region. Moreover, as an Emirates passenger with a cancelled ticket, you can also choose to convert your ticket to a travel voucher for the same amount that you paid for the ticket that you hold. The emirates’ travel voucher will be valid for one year from the date of issue and it can be used for flights on the Emirates’ network of flights or on other Emirates products and can be extended for another year, should you wish to do so. Please note that Emirates will waiver all reissue fees and fare difference if you change your flight to the same cabin that you were due to travel previously. But, if changing to a different destination and there is a new higher fare for that new destination, then you will need to pay the difference.
When it comes to cash refunds, Emirates Airways is providing cash refunds to all passengers, but be warned, the refund process does take a while before you receive your money.
British Airways passengers who are due to travel up to 31st December, can change their travel dates for free to an alternative date within 1 year from the date of issue. You could also take the option of converting your ticket to a travel voucher for a future booking, but the ticket must be redeemed for travel on flights taken within 12 months from the departure date of the original booking. The new trip’s departure and return dates must be fully completed within that 12-month period.
For all tickets issued on Qatar Airways until the 30th of September 2020 and are cancelled, then the ticket can be used for one year from date of issue to an alternative date or destination within the Qatar Airways network. Qatar Airways has waived all change fees, but you will still need to pay for any fare difference or charges if applicable. You can also change your ticket for a travel voucher valid for one year. Qatar Airways is also providing cash refunds to all passengers.
With KLM, if a ticket with a travel of up to the 3rd of July 2020 is cancelled, then the ticket can be changed for free to an alternative date or destination, but fare difference charges if any, will still apply. The KLM Ticket can be used for one year from the date of issue and you have the option of changing your KLM ticket for a travel voucher that is valid for one year from the date of issue.
For Etihad ticket holders, if a ticket with a travel of up to 30th June 2020 is cancelled, then the ticket can be changed for free. You can change your ticket to new travel dates up to 31st July 2020 or an alternative date or destination within the same region.
Lastly, please do remember that much remains outside our control. As we continue to hope for a return to flying soon, most likely under strict sanitation guidelines, remember that the airlines will continue to enhance and change their policies as the pandemic evolves. So be sure to contact your travel agent for all updates regarding the rules on your ticket!
The Author is the Founder and CEO of Saffara Travel Ltd