By Gavin Gibbon
New waiver policies introduced by Emirates, Etihad, Indigo and Air Arabia
UAE airlines have announced various waiver policies allowing customers to change travel dates with no extra charge, in light of the continuing coronavirus crisis.
Carriers in the region have cancelled the large majority of flights to China, while all flights to Iran and Saudi Arabia have been cancelled and scheduling to other destinations has also been impacted by the worldwide spread of coronavirus.
The new waiver policy for Emirates only applies to booked tickets issued on or from March 8 until March 31.
Customers can change their booking to any date for travel within an 11-month date range in the same booking class without change penalties. It covers all destinations across the Emirates network.
Adnan Kazim, chief commercial officer, Emirates airline, said: "We want our customers to feel fully supported, comfortable and confident when making travel plans, while offering them the best fares, without incurring change fees should they decide to delay or adjust dates. The situation remains dynamic and we will continue to look at ways to provide flexibility, convenience and peace of mind for our customers."
Emirates Skywards Platinum, Gold and Silver members can maintain their current status by fulfilling 80 percent of their tier travel requirements between March 31 and June 30, 2020. In addition, Skywards members booked to travel between March 1 and June 30, 2020, will be able to benefit from an additional 20 percent bonus Tier Miles.
Current refund and rebooking conditions for tickets issued before March 5 still apply. Customers impacted due to cancellations of flights impacted by the Covid-19 virus are advised to check emirates.com for rebooking or rerouting options.
Customers who wish to change their travel arrangements can visit their travel agent or contact the Emirates call centre at +971 600 555555.
Etihad has also announced the tickets issued in the UAE on or before March 5, 2020, to destinations where the advice is not to travel, can be rebooked for departures up to April 15, without any extra charges.
A statement said: “Only one change is permitted, and further changes will attract standard fees. Re-routing or rebooking can only proceed if there are no travel restrictions in intended destinations.”
The notice on the airline’s website also said that teachers employed in the UAE, who cancel flights, will be entitled to a fare refund without incurring additional charges, as long as they produce a letter of employment from their school or education institution.
Passengers of Air Arabia, which has restrictions on flights to and from Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, are being offered free cancellation.
Meanwhile, Indian outfit, IndiGo airlines, has announced that it won’t be charging any fees to reschedule domestic and international flights boked from March 12-31.
There are currently 45 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UAE and 6,078 throughout the wider Middle East region.