Reader Question: Banned Entering & Flight Operates? Can I get A Refund?

A LoyaltyLobby reader Tweeted us a question regarding a trip to Hong Kong using Swiss when the entry ban is still likely in place (was extended through the end of 2020).

Swiss Catering

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Here’s the question:

It is unclear if the reader is flying directly between ZRH-HKG or if there is a connecting flight involved.

Swiss is currently serving Hong Kong from Zurich three times a week per ExpertFlyer.

And the flights have gone out.

There three options:

1. Wait to see if Swiss ends up canceling the flight from Zurich to Hong Kong OR the connecting flight to Zurich (if there is one). The passenger is then eligible for a full refund.

2. See if the flight is eligible for a credit. Many airlines have offered credits for flights that passengers cannot take. They usually extend the waiver period monthly. It wouldn’t surprise if this is still in place this coming November.

3. If the flight operates, there is no waiver in place, and the passenger cannot enter the destination; the money is lost, and there is no legal requirement for the airline to refund. The passenger is always required to have valid documents to enter the destination, even when these requirements change between the ticket purchase and the flight date.

Conclusion

I have strongly advised against buying any advance travel right now because it is unclear when entry and transit bans are lifted (many are in the process being extended until the end of 2020 right now and could be further extended). There could be last-minute changes like what happened with Spain and the UK over the weekend (14-day quarantine was instituted in less than a day’s notice).

Many airlines haven’t done themselves any favors by holding passenger refunds for flights that they have themselves canceled, hoping to get a rescue package from the government or passengers not pursuing what is legally theirs.

Many of these international flights going out today are very light in passenger loads but are primarily underwritten by cargo demand with higher than usual prices. It could be that when cargo prices return to normal levels, some of these flights going out today are canceled (not worth sending a wide body for 50 passengers).

I would sit tight and wait what will happen with the reader’s flight(s) and hope for cancellation or significant retiming of any of the flights.

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