Which airlines offer flexible bookings?

Many travel agencies introduced flexible booking policies at the height of the pandemic to give customers peace of mind and encourage them to make reservations at a time when there was great uncertainty around travel. But with the easing of Covid-related restrictions around the world, the same travel companies are now reverting to their standard booking policies.

Despite this, some airlines can be surprisingly flexible if you want to change or even cancel your booking. However, administration fees generally apply, and you will have to do this within a certain period of time. Here’s what you need to know.

Main photo: Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (Getty Images)

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Some companies are reverting to pre-Covid policies (Getty Images)

Which airlines offer flexible bookings?

British Airways

Flexible? Yes
How far in advance? At least three hours before departure

British Airways will allow you to cancel your flight free of charge within 24 hours of booking, regardless of ticket class. After that, the policy varies.

For passengers traveling before September 30, BA’s Covid-era flexible booking policy is still in place. This means that you can cancel or change the date and destination of your flight up to three hours before departure. The first change is free, after which charges will apply depending on the changes you wish to make.

From October 1, standard airline policies apply. Some flexible fares will allow you to cancel and make amends free of charge, but others will incur charges, which will depend on your destination and the ticket class you are traveling on. For a full list of fees, see the BA website.

Virgin Atlantic

Flexible? Yes
How far in advance? At least two hours before departure

Virgin Atlantic has reinstated its standard policies. Like other airlines, you can cancel within 24 hours of booking without paying any fees. Beyond that, charges may apply.

The airline will allow changes and cancellations before a flight, but only on certain fare classes. You should check the terms and conditions of the ticket you have booked for more details. Change fees vary and you will only be informed of the amount when you request it. Any name corrections must be made at least two hours before departure. Virgin Atlantic’s Conditions of Carriage can be found here.

Making changes to your flight online can be cheaper than doing it at the airport
Making changes online can be cheaper than doing it at the airport (Getty Images)

Ryanair

Flexible? Yes
How far in advance? At least one hour before the flight

If your Ryanair flight is on, it is not possible to cancel and get a refund, unless your flight was delayed for more than five hours. Ryanair will however offer a full refund in the event of a family bereavement or in some cases due to a change in schedule.

Ryanair will also allow changes and corrections (dates/name/direction of travel) free of charge within the first 24 hours of a booking, after which a charge of £45 will apply for changes made online, and £60 for changes made by telephone or at the airport assistance service. These changes can be made up to 2.5 hours before departure. Name changes can be made up to two hours before departure. You can change up to three characters in a name free of charge if you do so at least 48 hours before travelling, otherwise a £115 charge will apply.

On its Flexi Plus fares, you can change the booking or itinerary the day before or after your original flight free of charge – you can do this up to one hour before your original flight, or up to 40 minutes before your new flight if it is earlier. For date or itinerary changes more than one day from your original booking, the changes are free of charge, but you will be required to pay any fare difference.

Not all airlines will allow you to change destination
Not all airlines will allow you to change destination (Alamy)

easyJet

Flexible? Yes
How far in advance? At least two hours before departure

from EasyJet Covid Flexible Booking Policy is in place until December 31, 2022. This means that in the event of a travel ban or if you need to self-quarantine, you can cancel or change your flight up to two hours before departure. Otherwise, standard carriage conditions apply.

EasyJet will allow you to cancel your flight within the first 24 hours of booking, less a £49 cancellation fee. After 24 hours, no refunds are due except in exceptional circumstances such as terminal illness or bereavement.

However, you can make amends up to two hours before departure. It’s free to correct the spelling of your name but if you are looking to transfer your ticket to someone else, there is a fee of £49. You can also change the travel date and route by paying a fee – £25 if it’s more than 45 days before travel and £42 if it’s less than 45 days before travel – plus any difference in fare .

Jet2

Holiday luggage
Holiday luggage on the way (Getty Images)

Flexible? Yes
How far in advance? At least five hours before departure

Reservations with Jet2 are non-refundable and non-transferable. However, name spelling corrections are free – up to three letters can be changed. They will also let you change names and travel dates for a £35 admin fee, but you’ll need to do this at least five hours before departure.

In the latter case, you may have to pay extra if tickets on your new travel dates are more expensive. If your new tickets are cheaper than the original ones, you will not be refunded the difference. It is not possible to change the destination of your flight.

You

Flexible? Yes
How far in advance? Until the day of departure

Tui Covid’s flexible booking policy is in place until October 31. Under this, the travel agency will allow you to change your booking free of charge if you or someone you are traveling with tests positive for Covid; if there is a local lockdown and you cannot travel; if vaccination, testing or quarantine requirements have changed since your booking; or if restrictions have been introduced which will significantly impact your holiday.

Otherwise, standard company change and cancellation policies apply. This means you will have to pay £25 to change your name and £50 if you want to change your travel time or bring your flight forward. Or if you want to delay your flight, you will have to pay a £50 fee. You must also make this change at least 70 days before travel – after that any change is considered a cancellation.

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