Huge travel bargains as airlines battle coronavirus

Penny Burfitt
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Airlines are allowing customers to cancel just days before their flights. Photo: Getty Images

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, travel companies are taking increasingly drastic action in an attempt to keep people flying.

With quarantine orders now shutting down Northern Italy and large chunks of China, not to mention whole schools and organisations here in Australia, travel is far from most people’s minds and it looks like that is translating to how many seats are being booked.

This morning, companies including Emirates, Qatar Airways, and even cruise ship owners Norwegian Cruise Line announced a drastic change to their cancellation policy in an apparent bid to entice customers.

Emirates will waive cancellation fees and allows customers to change their travel dates absolutely free of charge form the month of March.

Emirates will allow customers more flexibility than ever for the rest of March. Photo: Getty Images

Specifically for tickets booked between 7 March and 31 March 2020, the policy lets customers choose another date in an 11-month window, or transfer their ticket to a travel voucher.

Qatar has taken it a step further, letting passengers change ticket dates or exchange for a voucher up to three days before departure, with the offer applying to all tickets purchased until 20 June 2020.

Qatar is attempting to reassure customers with its extended cancellation policy. Photo: Getty Images

“In response to COVID-19, Emirates is taking extra steps that go above and beyond to ensure customers health and comfort is a priority,” a spokesperson said.

“This commercial policy is designed to provide Qatar Airways’ passengers with confidence and peace of mind when booking flights in light of COVID-19 and its impact on global travel,” Qatar’s spokesperson echoed.

Cruises jump onboard

Norwegian Cruise Line is also cutting costs for nervous passengers. Photo: Getty Images

It’s not just airlines trying to ease passengers stress, cruise ships re also feeling the sting of the outbreak, and dialling back cancellation significantly.

Norwegian Cruise Line is letting customers cancel up to 48 hours before 30 September and receive future cruise credit.

Cruise Alaska meanwhile has dropped its prices significantly to just $3995 for an 11-day all-inclusive Alaskan adventure.

“We understand travellers are thinking carefully about their next vacation, and we are here to reassure them that now is the right time to start planning,” said Harry Sommer, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.

The latest move comes as airlines take drastic action to combat the sudden dip in sales.

Airline’s drastic cuts to combat flight dip

Air New Zealand's CEO is taking a personal cut for the company. Photo: Getty Images

Airlines all over the world are copping huge hits to their revenue, and desperately trying to combat the dip however they can.

The CEO of airline Air New Zealand this morning announced he will cut his pay by 15 per cent in order to mitigate the economic impacts of coronavirus Covid-19, shaving $250,000 off his base pay of $1.65 million

Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia have reduced flights as demand to and from Asia and across the world has fallen as coronavirus continues to spread across the world.

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific asked 33,000 global staff to take up to three weeks of unpaid leave last month. The airline has been struggling since the Hong Kong protests.

Flight Centre is also reportedly asking workers to take four-day weeks or unpaid leave.

Emirates is asking staff to take a month of unpaid leave as flights are cancelled around the world and the airline has cancelled flights to Iran, Bahrain and most of China.

Customers are being hit with a flurry of flight deals in a bid to get bums on seats, though how effective each sale is yet to be determined.

Just last week flights to LA dropped to $400, and return fares to the Phillippines came all the way down to $230 for a round trip.

Got a story tip or just want to get in touch? Email us at lifestyle.tips@verizonmedia.com.