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Coronavirus outbreak: Want to reschedule or cancel air ticket? Here's what airlines are offering

GoAir, IndiGo, SpiceJet and Vistara have offered to lessen the blow for passengers

March 09, 2020 / 04:54 PM IST
MIAL (Representative Image)

MIAL (Representative Image)

 
 
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As coronavirus fears intensify across the globe, travellers have been forced to reschedule their travel plans.

To help cushion the blow, airlines have started to offer various waivers.

While the gesture is welcome, some airlines may have done a better job than others when it comes to making the waivers generous.

GoAir has been among the most generous, and for once the promotion may have been aptly called 'power of freedom'. The offer, for travel between March 8 to September 30, lets passengers to book and reschedule a ticket with no cancellation or re-booking fees.

A few details to be mindful of - the offer is for bookings made between March 8 and April 30; the waiver will be applicable till 14 days before departure; and while rescheduling a flight, the passenger will have to pay extra if there is a difference in the fare.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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The airline's offer is similar to what Qatar Airways had made earlier to its customers, who can make changes until three days prior to travel. But here, the offer is for travel till June 30.

Also Read: The COVID-19 epidemic is in danger of turning into a financial crisis (MC Pro)

As Ajay Ajay Awtaney, editor of Indian aviation website, http://livefromalounge.com, says in his blog, 'GoAir wants to ensure that its forward bookings don't suffer'.

IndiGo's offer lasts from March 12 to March 31, for both existing and new bookings. SpiceJet's offer too has the same validity.

Also Read: Coronavirus outbreak | Confirmed cases in India at 43; countries brace for COVID-19 impact

"To take this anxiety away and make their travel hassle-free, we are waiving our normal change fees on all travel during the next two weeks and for all new bookings made in that period," said William Boulter, Chief Commercial Officer, IndiGo, in a statement on March 7.

Vistara, the joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, has waived cancellation and rescheduling charges for bookings made on or before March 1.

Also Read | Coronavirus impact: Qatar ban a big blow for Indian airlines 

Air India, which got accolades for evacuating stranded Indians from virus-hit China, hasn't made any announcements on the booking front.

The virus, which has killed 3,800 people, has hit global aviation severely, with scores of airlines truncating operations and some have been forced to ground half of their fleet. While industry association IATA has estimated losses at up to $113 billion, there are fears that some airlines may go belly up. In fact, UK's Flybe has collapsed.

Nearly all airlines have offered to waive cancellation and rescheduling charges. Among the most generous is United Airlines, the American behemoth.  The airline allows passengers to change bookings for the next 12 months.

Can an Indian airline match that?
Prince Mathews Thomas heads the corporate bureau of Moneycontrol. He has been covering the business world for 16 years, having worked in The Hindu Business Line, Forbes India, Dow Jones Newswires, The Economic Times, Business Standard and The Week. A Chevening scholar, Prince has also authored The Consolidators, a book on second generation entrepreneurs.
first published: Mar 9, 2020 04:38 pm

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