You asked, we’re answering. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on travelers and we know there’s a lot of unanswered questions about travel and the coronavirus. We recently asked you what questions you still have and we’re here to answer as best we can during this chaotic time. We can’t speak to each individual situation here, so for information specific to your booking, please contact us through phone or email.
- Travel you’ve already cancelled
- Upcoming travel already booked, but not yet cancelled
- Travel now
- Travel in the future
- Booking future travel
- The impact of Coronavirus
Your most popular questions:
Are you offering extra discounts for students at this time?
Yes! Our team is always working closely with airline partners to ensure that there are great discount fares for you on our website.
When will travel resume?
We wish we knew! Our hope is that traveling will begin to resume as soon as it’s possible (and safe!) to do so, which will hopefully be sometime over the summer. However, we can’t know the future, so we’re just waiting and watching for updates from local and global authorities and medical professionals.
Where is my refund?
If you are waiting on a refund, please hang tight! We know things have been delayed and we appreciate your patience. If a refund is processed directly from us, the current processing time is about 10-15 business days. If we have to request a refund from the airline (as in most cases), the processing time is closer to 4-6 weeks. Give us a call if it’s been longer than the stated times, and we’d be happy to look into it. Please know though, that we’re doing our best and there are not many ways for us to expedite the process right now due to the volume of requests.
Why can’t I get a refund?
When you buy a ticket through us, we process the transaction and issue you a ticket, then pass along your money and the information to the airline, who owns your ticket and operates your flight. If you should need a refund in the future, we have to go back to the airline first, since your ticket and payment are held by them, to advocate for you. If the airline has issued a waiver or allows tickets to be converted to credit, we can easily do that as soon as you request it. But ultimately, we are bound to airline policies and conditions.
Questions about cancellations due to the coronavirus:
You all had lots of questions about your travel credit, and we’ve actually answered many of those questions already on our coronavirus travel FAQ page here.
I cancelled flights before the airlines had official policies, is there any chance of getting a refund now?
It’s unlikely that an airline would issue a refund, as this is considered a voluntary cancellation and your ticket would still be held to its original terms and conditions.
What happens if I was not able to cancel a reservation before the flight due to the phone call backup? Will I still be able to reschedule it or get a refund?
We can certainly do our best for you. It depends somewhat on the airline—for some airlines, we can still access the ticket post-departure to reschedule it, give a credit, or whatever the ticket is eligible for. For other airlines, we have to submit a request to the airline to reopen the ticket for you before we can make changes. In either case, we’re happy to do that and advocate on your behalf to get you the best solution possible.
Why did my insurance that I purchased not cover this?
Each trip insurance company and individual policy provides various levels of insurance, from plans that cover anything (like a cancel-for-any-reason plan), while others cover only the very, very basics (like if you are sick or bad weather cancels your trip). Typically only a ‘cancel for any reason’ policy will provide a refund if you choose to cancel your flight, even if it’s because of a pandemic.
How do I reach out to the travel insurance company?
Most travel insurance policies purchased through StudentUniverse are held by TripMate. In order to process a claim on an insurance policy you’ll have to reach out to them. TripMate has a Coronavirus page on their website here including an email address where you can ask them questions about your policy if needed. We’ll be happy to help provide anything you need to file a claim.
Questions about refunds:
Why is it taking so long to get a refund?
The coronavirus situation has forced millions of travelers to need to cancel or change travel plans urgently. At the same time, airlines have had to scramble to figure out how to best handle extra cleaning to keep travelers safe, how to operate in different and changing government restrictions, how to keep their staff safe and what to do about a significantly lowered demand for flights. During this time, airlines had to prioritize helping customers over issuing refunds. When you request a refund of your flight through StudentUniverse, we put a request into the airline (who most of the time is the one that owns your ticket and payment), to issue that refund. With the airlines being so backed up, we’ve seen responses to those requests taking 4-6 weeks.
Why is StudentUniverse not providing full cash refunds for travel plan cancellations due to Coronavirus?
Most of the time, when you purchase a ticket through StudentUniverse, your money goes directly to the airline for that ticket. This is why we are only able to offer what the airline policy allows, as it is the airline that has to actually issue you the money.
I heard that airlines were required to issue refunds for cancelled flights rather than credit, but I only got credit for my cancelled flight, what do I do now?
We understand the US DOT has recently issued a statement advising airlines to refund passengers for flights to, within, or from the United States that are canceled by the airline. If your flight has been canceled by the airline, we will be happy to submit a request to the airline on your behalf for a refund – just send us an email with the details of your reservation. Due to the high volume of requests on both our end and the airlines, we expect these requests to take a long time to receive a response, please be patient with us as we work to help you.
What are my legal rights for obtaining cash refunds from trips cancelled due to COVID?
When you purchase an airline ticket, you agree to certain terms and conditions set by the airline, and if purchased through us, StudentUniverse. There are laws that also govern travel which vary from country to country. The laws of the country in which you purchased the ticket are typically what applies to your individual situation. Every situation is different, but generally you are only due a full cash refund if the airline is the one to cancel your trip, not if you are the one to cancel.
I have been financially impacted by the coronavirus, can I get a refund?
We’re very sad to see how the coronavirus has had a negative financial impact on so many people, including our customers, our airline partners and even ourselves. Unfortunately, this does not impact the terms and conditions of your ticket, and does not change the refund status of your ticket.
Questions about upcoming travel already booked, but not yet cancelled:
Who do I contact with questions about changing or cancelling my flights?
If you booked your ticket through StudentUniverse, you will generally need to contact StudentUniverse to cancel or make changes. There are a few airlines where you will need to work with them directly. These include Frontier, Ryanair, Spirit, Sun Country, Easy Jet, JetStar and Tiger.
If I bought a ticket through StudentUniverse, will you help me get a refund or credit with the airline?
Yes, we will work with you and the airline to attempt to get you the best possible resolution. We are typically bound by airline policy, but we will petition on your behalf as best we can.
How do I know if my planned travel has been cancelled or not? Will I be notified if my flight is cancelled by the airline?
We typically suggest you check with your airline to see if your flights have been cancelled. You can enter your airline reservation code into their website and it should give you your flight information. Often airlines will also allow you to sign up for notifications from them. Due to the many changes being made by airlines, often last minute, StudentUniverse cannot actively notify you about changes and cancellations. We highly recommend that you sign up for the airline’s communication program.
How do I make a change to my flight dates?
If you currently have a flight booked and you’d like to change the dates, please contact us through email or phone so that an agent can assist you. Due to the high volume of requests we have asked that you call only when your original flight is within 72hrs so that we can assist those more urgent requests. If your flight is further out, please contact us through email and put your departure date in the subject line, and someone will help you as soon as possible. Please be patient with us as we are currently handling thousands of requests at once.
When is an appropriate time to reach out to get my flights cancelled and get credit?
Thank you to everyone who has upcoming travel and has waited to contact us so far. Your patience allowed us to prioritize many customers who needed to urgently get home or cancel flights departing within a few days. That being said, we understand that many of you are anxious to get the situation resolved. While wait times have dropped significantly, we are still requesting you allow our phone agents to prioritize urgent requests by not calling until your flight is within 72hrs. You can reach out to us through email or Facebook messenger to see if someone is available to help you there. Please be patient with us, as we are working to help everyone as quickly as we can.
Before reaching out, we recommend that you first make yourself aware of your airline’s current cancellation or change policies as they apply to your ticket. This helps make response times shorter when you already know what the airline policy is. Second, we recommend that you check with the airline to see if your flight has already been cancelled by them. If it has, please send us an email to email@example.com with the details of your booking (full name, date of birth, email address and reservation code) and we will initiate the process to request a refund from the airline.
Will I get the full amount refunded if I cancel my travel which is scheduled within the next few months?
Every situation depends on the airline’s specific policy, however very few airlines are currently offering refunds if you decide to cancel your upcoming travel. Many airlines are allowing for free changes – meaning you can cancel your reservation and receive a credit for future travel with them. It is important to check your airline’s change and cancellation policy as every airline is different. Many airlines are not yet applying free change policies to flights in the summer or fall. If your flight is further out, we recommend waiting to see how the airline’s policies change as the situation evolves.
Will I be receiving a refund for the flights I have booked with you if they are cancelled?
If the airline cancels your flight, we can request that they issue you a full refund under the Department of Transportation’s guidelines. Please send us an email with your full name, date of birth, and reservation code to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a refund. These requests are currently delayed due to high volume and can take 4-6 weeks to get a response from the airline, please be patient with us as we try to help everyone get compensation as quickly as possible.
Can I buy insurance on an upcoming trip now?
It depends on your situation but, generally, no. There is a limited amount of time after you purchase a flight that it is eligible to add travel insurance where you can ‘cancel for any reason, which is the type of insurance you’d need to be able to cancel travel due to the coronavirus now.
Can I change my travel without a change fee due to COVID-19?
Most likely, yes, however, it depends on your airline’s current policy. Many airlines are allowing travelers to change their travel dates with no fee for travel planned for May or June. It is important to check your airline’s change and cancellation policy as every airline is different, and most airlines are not yet applying free change policies to flights in the summer or fall. If your flight is further out, we may recommend waiting to see how the airline’s policies change as the situation evolves.
Can I cancel my flight and get a voucher for a future trip?
Most likely, yes, however it depends on your airline’s current policy. Many airlines are allowing travelers to cancel a reservation and receive a refund in the form of future travel credit. It is important to check your airline’s change and cancellation policy as every airline is different, and most airlines are not yet applying free change policies to flights in the summer or fall. If your flight is further out, we may recommend waiting to see how the airline’s policies change as the situation evolves.
Can basic economy tickets be refunded or rescheduled for a later date, even if it’s normally not allowed by the ticket type?
It depends on the airline’s policy. Most airlines are allowing for all types of tickets to be rescheduled under their flexible change policies, but if a ticket is non-refundable it will still be difficult to get a refund, unless the airline cancels the flight themselves.
Do I really need to wait till 72 hours before my flight to change/cancel it?
THANK YOU to everyone who has upcoming travel and has waited to contact us so far. Your patience allows us to prioritize many customers who needed to urgently get home, or cancel flights departing within a few days. That being said, we understand that many of you are anxious to get the situation resolved. While wait times have dropped significantly, we are still requesting you allow our phone agents to prioritize urgent requests by not calling until your flight is within 72hrs. You can reach out to us through email or Facebook messenger to see if someone can help you there first. Please be patient with us, as we are working to help everyone as quickly as we can.
Before reaching out, we recommend that you first make yourself aware of your airline’s current cancellation or change policies as they apply to your ticket. This helps make response times shorter when you already know what the airline policy is. Second, we recommend that you check with the airline to see if your flight has already been canceled by them. If it has, please send us an email to email@example.com with the details of your booking (full name, date of birth, email address and reservation code) and we will initiate the process to request a refund from the airline.
A leg of my trip was canceled. How do I rebook that leg, since the call center is busy with travelers within 72 hrs of flights?
We appreciate you allowing us to prioritize customers with flights in the next 72hrs. If the airline has canceled a leg of your flight and you’d like it to be rebooked, please do give us a call, particularly if the flight is in the next week or two. Since airlines are changing flight schedules all the time, if you are still looking to travel, we’d like to get you rebooked as soon as possible.
We are scheduled to leave soon but my airline is not flying. What do we need to do?
We recommend first checking your airline’s policy on how they are handling tickets for passengers scheduled to travel while they are shut down. Some airlines are automatically leaving tickets ‘open’ so that they can be re-booked in the future. Other airlines have already said they will issue refunds, or you may be eligible for a refund legally. If you’d like to pursue requesting a refund and booked through StudentUniverse, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org include the following information:
- Full name
- StudentUniverse six-letter reservation code
- Your date of birth
- A brief summary of the situation, i.e. something like “My flight was cancelled by the airline and I believe I’m eligible for a refund. Could you look into this and process it for me, please?” is helpful.
Then give us a few weeks to get back to you!
Should I consider rescheduling my trip that is set to take place in May or June?
We understand the uncertainty of this situation is one of the hardest things, but we really can’t say what will happen in May or June. If you do not feel comfortable planning to travel during this time, then it would make sense to reschedule now, especially if your flight is covered under a free change policy from your airline. If you are comfortable with it, we generally would say to wait and see how the situation evolves over the next few weeks before making a final decision.
I still have tickets for travel this summer and I want to cancel, but am told there are cancellation fees, why is that and what should I do?
Great question! Many airlines have issued free change waivers for flights up until the end of May, but not yet for summer flights. As a result, if your airline hasn’t issued a waiver for the flight yet, normal change and cancellation fees will apply. You have a couple of options in this case:
- You can wait and see if the airline will extend their waivers or cancel the flight. If they cancel the flight, you may be eligible for a refund. If they extend the waivers, then your flight might be covered under the free-change policy.
- You can cancel your flight now and pay the accompanying fees. Typically these fees are around $200-$400 per ticket, but if your ticket was a lot more than that, it may be worth it to you to pay the fee and get the refund.
A portion of my flight has already been canceled by the airline. How do I get a full refund for that trip?
If your flight (or any part of it) was cancelled by the airline, send an email to us at email@example.com and include the following information:
- Full name
- StudentUniverse six-letter reservation code
- Your date of birth
- A brief summary of the situation, i.e. something like “My flight was cancelled by the airline and I believe I’m eligible for a refund. Could you look into this and process it for me, please?” is helpful.
Then give us a few weeks to get back to you!
If I try to change my flight on StudentUniverse, but then receive an error message, what is the best course of action to reach out to you about changing my flight?
Reach out to us directly—calling us is the fastest way to reach someone, but you can also DM us on Facebook or Twitter, particularly if your request isn’t urgent. All of our contact information can be found here.
I had to cancel my flight, but was able to use the credit to book another one. What happens if, due to Coronavirus, I have to cancel again?
Another great question, without a simple answer! It depends on your airline’s policy and personal situation. Most airlines are only offering one free change, but some are allowing for more. If the airline is the one to cancel your flight, then we can typically rebook you without a fee.
If I bought a flight before the outbreak and the same flight is cheaper now, can I get some money back?
Unfortunately, no. The prices of flights are subject to change all the time, so we don’t price-match if you happen to find it at a cheaper price in the future. If you purchased our 72-hour price drop protection, we’ll refund you if the price does drop within those 72 hours.
I’ve requested a change or cancellation online but haven’t heard back yet, when will I hear from you?
We’re receiving a TON of requests right now and we have team members going through each request individually to make sure you get the best refund/credit option possible for your ticket. As a result, though, you may not hear from us right away. Rest assured that if you got the cancellation confirmation email, your flight will be canceled and we’ll be in touch within a few weeks regarding the best option for your ticket.
Questions about traveling right now:
What are airlines doing to minimize person-person contacts in flights?
Many airlines have been taking precautions to keep passengers safe since social distancing started. Almost all major airlines are holding or limiting their in-flight refreshments in order to cut down on contact. Some airlines are limiting where customers can sit on a plane, while others are doing things like not allowing people to sit in middle seats, or allowing you to change your seat once boarded.
How often are airplanes cleaned?
Most airlines have increased their airplane cleaning practices as the coronavirus has spread. Each airline has different cleaning practices, but generally airlines are cleaning planes between every flight and giving planes a deeper clean every night.
Are there fewer flights being offered because of this current situation?
Yes, definitely. Many airlines are reducing the amount of flights being offered right now by as much as 80% of their normal schedules.
How likely is it that a flight will get cancelled?
That depends on a variety of factors, including the origin and destination of the flight, the airline and more. We can’t predict for you whether or not your flight will be cancelled, but you can always check the status of your flights by logging into the airline website with your airline reservation number.
Are there any domestic travel restrictions right now?
The CDC does not generally issue advisories or restrictions for travel within the United States. However, while there may not be official travel restrictions or advisories in place at the time, we do recommend that you follow and adhere to local shelter-in-place or stay-at-home guidelines so that we can protect our families and communities and be back out to traveling again once things have settled down and it’s okay to do so.
Is all international travel currently restricted?
Currently (as of the time of writing), the CDC has issued a Global Level 4 advisory. This means they are advising everyone to avoid all non-essential international travel. This does not mean that there’s a restriction, but rather that if your travel is non-essential, it should be postponed to a later date. You can keep updated on the travel recommendations by the US government at smarttraveller.gov.au.
Is it possible to get personalized updates about the countries we are traveling to?
While we’d love to be able to give you personalized updates regarding the countries you’re traveling to, there’s just too many of you and too few of us! We recommend you take a look at both the CDC travel alerts and coronavirus restrictions and guidelines issued by the government of your destination.
I would like to travel to <country> as soon as possible, is that possible?
We wish we could answer all of these questions better for you, but every situation is different and is changing quickly. We recommend that you continue to follow coronavirus restrictions and guidelines issued by the government of your destination.
Why are fares so expensive right now?
Well, it really depends on where and when you are trying to go! Many prices for future travel are much lower than usual due to the uncertainty of the situation. Some prices are more expensive due to high demand and less inventory (fewer seats). For example, there are many Chinese nationals looking to go home and be with their family during this time, but there is a very limited amount of flights allowed into China right now so we are seeing prices that are higher than usual.
If traveling is something that I have to do in this period, what precautionary measures should I take to stay healthy?
All of the basic recommendations apply for traveling too: wash your hands, stay away from anyone who appears to be sick and wear a mask if you’re going to a public area. Wipe down seats, tray tables, armrests and so on and wash your hands before you eat, touch your face or after you touch communal items (like security tray bins).
Questions about booking future travel
Can I purchase tickets now for the future?
You absolutely can! Most airlines allow you to purchase tickets up to 300-320 days in advance, so if you want to get ahead of the game and purchase tickets for fall or even next winter right now, you’re able to.
Should we buy tickets for the future as everything is really cheap now?
Good question! If you want to take advantage of some cheap prices, now is a good time to do that. Keep in mind, of course, that travel restrictions and advisories are still changing frequently and that you should hold your plans loosely until things have settled down a bit more. However, many airlines are offering flexible change policies if you book a ticket now for later this year, so you’ll be able to book confidently knowing you can change your dates later if needed.
How do I know which airlines are most clean/safest to travel on once travel restrictions are lifted?
Most airlines already have CDC-approved cleaning policies in place for each flight, including disinfecting and cleaning surfaces in between each flight. In addition, many airlines use HEPA filters for air filtration on flights, which remove 99.97% of bacteria in the air on planes. This means that airborne particles that spread viruses aren’t spreading around planes through the recycled air. You can see how each individual airline is responding to the coronavirus on their websites, most have posted information about how they are handling keeping travelers and employees safe and healthy on flights.
A lot of the airlines have policies for no fees for changes or cancellations for the foreseeable future, how does it work? Does it still apply if I book through StudentUniverse?
Yes, it still applies if you book through us! We are happy to honor any policies the airlines have set in place. While each airline’s policies may differ slightly, the general policy is that if you book your ticket now (between March-April), you’ll be able to change the dates of your ticket later on, without fees, if necessary. Keep in mind that fare differences still apply (so if the cost of your new ticket is higher than the cost of your original ticket, you’ll have to pay that difference).
I need to travel in <month>, should I book tickets now or wait to see how travel restrictions change?
It depends! If you’re planning to travel later this summer or year, you can book now with an airline providing flexible change policies. If you do need to change your flight later, you’ll be able to do so without fees. Still feeling uncertain? It doesn’t hurt to wait and see how things change over the next month or so.
If I book a flight for the end of summer, but then am still not able to travel, can I reschedule the flight dates? If so, at what cost?
That depends on the airline! Some airlines have already issued flexible policies for flights booked during March and April for later in the year, allowing free changes should you need it. If you need to book a ticket for later this year and want to be sure you’ll be able to reschedule for free if you need to, check out these airlines with flexible change policies.
Questions about travel in the future:
Can I go to <city> in <month>?
The uncertainty of the situation makes it hard for us to answer when we’ll be able to travel like normal again. We are hopeful to see people traveling again as soon as summer or fall but advise you to keep informed of the guidelines issued by the CDC and the government of the destination where you would like to go. If you’re hoping to travel in the summer or fall, we recommend booking a flight with one of the airlines currently offering flexible change policies.
How does StudentUniverse feel about travel plans within the next 6-12 months?
While we can’t tell you exactly how things will play out with the coronavirus and future travel (we don’t have a crystal ball, unfortunately), we’re hopeful that within the next 6-12 months, it will be okay to travel again. We’re watching local and global authorities for current guidelines and anticipating that things will begin to open back up again within the next 6-12 months. Once things do start opening up again, travel will be important, as it will help cities that rely on tourism for income and support.
Are you planning to release discounted tickets once it’s safe to travel?
Yes! We are currently (and will continue to be) working with our airline partners to offer you the best discounts and deals possible once this is over, so you can all get back to exploring asap. Our goal is always to make travel as easy and accessible for students as possible, so once the world opens back up again, we’re committed to having great prices for you all to get out there.
How are flight prices going to be impacted by this? Will they be higher or lower when it is over?
While it’s hard to say what exactly will happen with flight prices, we generally expect prices to be lower than usual as countries start to reopen but people may still be hesitant to travel. We are currently (and will continue to be) working with our airline partners to offer you the best discounts and deals possible once this is over, so you can all get back to exploring asap. Our goal is always to make travel as easy and accessible for students as possible, so once the world opens back up again, we’re committed to having great prices for you all to get out there.
Can we have a list of cheap places to go when this is over?
Glad you asked! We’ve got lots of ideas. You can check out one of the below lists now, and we’ll continue to share great deals we have for cheap places to go when this is over as well.
In planning for future trips, should trip insurance be an essential expense? Does insurance typically cover pandemics?
Trip insurance is a great idea, as it’s hard to plan for the unexpected! Keep in mind that there are various kinds of trip insurance which cover different things, so make sure you read the fine print before buying and make sure to purchase one that will cover the appropriate measures. There isn’t really a “typical” way that insurances deal with pandemics, since (thankfully!) pandemics are anything but ordinary! Some insurance plans cover anything (like a cancel-for-any-reason plan), while others cover only the very, very basics (like if you are sick or bad weather cancels your trip).
Questions about StudentUniverse:
How are travelers helped by you in this crisis?
We’ve had all hands on deck trying to help travelers during this crisis. You can see a list of some of the things we’ve been doing, as well as see a video message from our team here.
How has StudentUniverse been impacted by this crisis?
Like many travel companies, StudentUniverse has been extremely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Not only have we been overwhelmed with requests for assistance with cancelling or changing flights, but we’ve also been impacted by the severe drop in demand for travel. We’ve had to significantly cut spending and unfortunately many of our staff have been furloughed, while the rest have taken pay cuts and have transitioned to working from their homes in order to help flatten the curve. However, we continue to believe in the resiliency of our student travelers and are hopeful that college students and young adults will be some of the first to travel again. We are working hard to help our customers that need it now and to have the best deals for you when you are ready to travel again.
How are you all doing?
Hey, thanks for asking! We’re doing okay—like many of you, these months have brought a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for us too, and we’re doing our best to find ways to stay healthy and sane during this crazy time. All of our employees are working from home and sheltering in place so we can do our part to help flatten the curve and protect our communities. We’re also working on creating new solutions to help our travelers now and in the future.
Is StudentUniverse only for students?
Nope! Anyone from ages 18-26 can use us and get our best discounts. Anyone else—even if you’re older than 26 and not a student—can book through us and still get some discounts, plus take advantage of all our promo codes and sales.
Other questions about the impact of the coronavirus:
Is this lockdown likely to last for this entire year? If so are colleges and universities likely to continue with long-distance learning for the summer and fall semesters?
We sure hope not! Unfortunately, no one can say for sure how long things will last. Different countries—even different states—will have to adjust coronavirus lockdown lengths and policies differently in order to protect our communities and keep everyone safe. For now, the best we can do is take things one day at a time.
How do you think fall 2020 study abroad programs will be impacted?
Although no one can say how long things will be shut down, we are hopeful that fall study abroad programs will still take place. We’ve talked to some of our partners who’ve said they are still planning for their programs to take place, however, we’d advise reaching out to your particular program or your school for more information.
Will there be a comprehensive resource for checking in on the status of the virus in various countries throughout the year?
The CDC and the WHO are great places to check for ongoing information about the coronavirus and it’s status in various places. Check out the CDC’s coronavirus reference for travelers and the WHO’s public guidelines to keep yourself and your community safe.
We hope this has been helpful in answering your many questions about the impact of the coronavirus on travel. If you have questions specific to your own booking feel free to contact us directly.
We don’t know what the future of travel holds, but our promise is that StudentUniverse will take everything we’ve learned during this time and use it to be a better company for you, our customers. You are our #1 priority. It’s our goal to be the best student travel resource for you, no matter what life throws at us next.