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Calls for airlines to scrap change fees amid travel panic over coronavirus pandemic

Travel around the globe has been hit by the coronavirus outbreak. Credit: PA / AP

There are calls for all airlines to stop charging customers to make changes to their bookings amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While a number of airlines have temporarily suspended change fees for some destinations, easyJet has scrapped all such charges with no limit on when the flight is booked for or its destination.

Which? Travel Editor Rory Boland says "all [airlines] must do the same" to help "worried passengers" with travel booked.

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Here's a rundown of the current change fee policies in place with some of the UK's most popular airlines:

  • EasyJet

As of 12 March, the airline has suspended all change fees for flights booked, regardless or when or where.

In a statement, the company said the new policy applies to both existing and new bookings "until further notice".

It adds: "We understand the uncertainty many customers may be facing and so any easyJet customers who wish to change their travel plans can now transfer their flights to alternative dates and/or an alternative destination without a change fee."

An easyJet plane bound for Munich, takes off at Tegel Airport in Berlin. Credit: AP
  • British Airways

On its coronavirus information page, the airline says these are "unprecedented times for our industry, our country and the world".

The current policy on change fees is temporary, however, with no charge for changes to the date of travel for bookings between 3 March and 31 March.

Any difference in fare for the flight must still be paid.

Customers wishing to change their destination, date or travel, or both can do so on bookings within the same dates and will be given a voucher of the same value.

The voucher can be used as full or part payment for future bookings to any destination and must be used within 12 months of the original departure date.

A group of passengers with face masks as protection against the coronavirus wait for their flights in a terminal at the airport in Frankfurt. Credit: AP

For bookings outside of 3 March and 31 March, BA's usual change policy applies, though the airline says: "We don't have one standard change fee or cancellation fee across all British Airways tickets sold".

BA says each fare "has its own conditions attached" and so the fee to change will vary according to the specific booking.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know

Colombian passengers wearing protective masks check their flight status at Adolfo Suarez-Barajas international airport on the outskirts of Madrid. Credit: AP
  • Ryanair

Budget airline Ryanair has announced it will waive the flight change fee for customers wishing to change their travel plans amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

The company said the updated policy will come into effect from Friday 13 March until 31 March and apply to existing and new bookings.

Customers will, however, still need to pay any difference in fare between their original and new flight booking.

The airline has already cancelled a number of flights as demand drops and - in line with the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice against travel to Italy - has suspended its service to and from the country.

Ryanair said the new change fee policy does not apply to customers affected by flight cancellations as they are already entitled to a refund or a free move onto an alternative Ryanair flight.

  • Jet2

The low-fares airline Jet2 currently has no changes to its usual policy aside from flights booked to Italy.

As such the usual cost of changes to a flight - regardless of destination or scheduled date - remain in place.

The airline does not allow passengers to change the point of departure or destination of their flight.

A passenger has his temperature checked as a precaution against a new coronavirus before boarding a flight to Vladivostok, Russia. Credit: AP

To change the date or time of a flight, customers must pay an administration fee of £35 as well as the price difference between the original and new booking.

The airline says if FCO advice changes flights could face cancellation and passengers would be eligible for "a suitable alternative where available or a refund".

  • Eurostar travel

Eurostar services continue to operate to all destinations, but the company has adjusted its change policy in light of the European spread of coronaviurs.

For outbound journeys booked between 13 March and 7 April, Eurostar is offering customers an eVoucher "equivalent to the full value" of train or package (train and hotel) bookings.

Evouchers can be used online for new bookings, but must be used by 30 June and only apply to travel up to 12 December subject to availability.