Need to cancel or change travel plans? What to know about COVID-19 policies for airline, hotels, more

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on travel this year, and even with effective vaccines on the horizon, travelers may want to change or cancel their plans on relatively short notice.

Airlines, Amtrak, hotels have generally speaking relaxed their change and cancellation policies to accommodate those last-minute changes due to COVID-19.

They have every incentive to do that: Travel is down sharply from a year ago as the country is in the midst of a surge in COVID-19 cases, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that Americans not travel for Thanksgiving.

Most hotel reservations can be changed or canceled within 24 hours of arrival with no fee. Generally, travelers will have a year to use any credit they receive from a ticket they change or cancel.In the event that airlines cancel or change flights, they are required to issue refunds.

Most Amtrak fares can be changed or canceled without penalty.

Change and cancellation policies at Airbnb properties depend on the length of the stay and are up to the discretion of the owner. Vrbo allows you to search for properties that allow you to cancel your stay as close as 14 days from check-in.

Still, anyone who’s flying, taking a train or staying in a hotel or vacation rental should know what change and cancellation policies apply to them. 

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