Lufthansa and Qatar Airways offer ‘coronavirus compassion’ by letting passengers delay flight dates

Two giant airlines have unveiled their “coronavirus compassion” policies – which offer more flexibility than those already published by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Up until now, most airlines facing a slump in bookings because of fears about the spread of the virus have focused on fresh sales: offering new customers a degree of flexibility, but denying it to those who booked before Covid-19 began to have a worldwide impact.

Now Lufthansa is offering all customers with bookings this month or next a chance to change their travel dates. 

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“Passengers can now rebook to a new date, up to 31 December 2020, without a rebooking fee – regardless of condition of the original booking fare purchased,” says the German airline.

The waiver for existing bookings is for tickets booked before 5 March for travel up to 30 April 2020. It applies on subsidiaries Swiss, Brussels Airlines and Austrian Airlines as well as Lufthansa itself.

Passengers are allowed only one change of date and must pay any fare difference.

Tickets bought between 6 and 31 March come with the same option.

The airline said: “With this new waiver policy, the Lufthansa Group airlines are responding to the wish of many customers to help make their travel plans more flexible under the exceptional circumstances caused by the spread of Covid-19.”

Qatar Airways is offering the now-standard option for new bookers of changing the date of travel, and emulating Lufthansa by extending the flexibility to existing ticket holders.

But the Doha-based airline is going one better – with the added option of receiving a travel voucher, valid for one year, allowing more flexibility.

The policy applies for all flights up to the end of June 2020. The option must be exercised at least three days prior to departure.

The airline’s chief executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “Although we maintain the very highest standards of hygiene across all parts of the business, we recognise that some passengers may wish to alter their existing travel plans.

“We hope this new policy, alongside our robust hygiene practices and safety record, will allow our passengers to travel with confidence.”

The long-haul specialist tour operator, Kuoni, has launched Kuoni Flex. It allows people to switch their holiday to alternative travel dates without charge up until up seven days before departure.

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