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Cancelling travel over coronavirus? Why a flight refund isn’t guaranteed

Can you get your money back for a cancelled plane ticket?
ABOVE: With many Canadians rethinking their travel plans in light of the coronavirus outbreak, Global News consumer reporter Sean O’Shea explains how you can get your money back for a cancelled plane ticket.

As the number of coronavirus cases continue to rise, over 70 airlines have cancelled flights including Air Canada, British Airways and Lufthansa.

At the same time, some Canadians are reconsidering their travel plans and cancelling plane tickets.

Global News consumer reporter Sean O’Shea said there is only one type of insurance that will guarantee your money back.

“Insurance kicks in when a circumstance arises where it’s beyond your control; if you’re sick, you can’t fly, you can’t return,” O’Shea told hosts on The Morning Show.

“But it doesn’t kick in if you just say, ‘I feel afraid of going.’ There’s only one kind of insurance that does that: cover for any reason.”

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READ MORE: Air Canada extends China flight cancellations to April 10 over COVID-19 outbreak

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O’Shea said there is no difference between cancelling one week or one month before a scheduled flight. 

“Generally speaking, if you have to cancel you’re going to be out of luck.”

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The good news, however, is that many airlines have become more flexible, preventing the outbreak from further spreading to other countries. 

Air Canada, for example, is extending its cancellation of all flights between Canada and China to April 10, as previously reported by Global News.

O’Shea also said the tourist industry recommends following government travel advisories. 

“If the government says something, it can inform whether you’ll be able to get a refund,” he said.

READ MORE: Going on vacation amid the coronavirus outbreak? Here’s what to know

Although the risk of being infected is still relatively low in many countries, nations around the world have imposed strict travel restrictions in an effort to contain the spread.

Canada has issued a travel advisory for China, specifically the epicentre, the province of Hubei. Italy and South Korea have upgraded travel notices for Canadians, as well.

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“You can’t just think about Canada’s policies. You also need to think about the policies at your destination and at any points of contact along the way, like layovers,” said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist based out of Toronto General Hospital, in a previous interview with Global News.

If Canadians still decide to stick with their travel plans, they are encouraged to register their travel plans with Global Affairs Canada as the outbreak lingers.

Ultimately, the choice to travel is up to Canadians.

— With files from Global News’ Rachel D’Amore and The Canadian Press

amanda.pope@globalnews.ca