What happens if you have a hotel booked during the coronavirus outbreak? Cancellation policies and what you need to know

Many hotel chains have introduced special policies for those affected by the outbreak

DXBMH Marriott Al Jaddaf hotel in Dubai 

Courtesy Marriott
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As coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, travel plans have been disrupted for hundreds of thousands of people.

Many major airlines have updated their cancellation and rebooking policies, including Emirates and Etihad, and many major hotel groups are following suit, allowing customers to cancel and amend bookings that have been affected by the outbreak.

At present, many large hotel chains are waiving cancellation fees for those travelling to and from areas including China, South Korea and Italy up until the end of March, although as more countries are hit with travel restrictions, policies continue to expand and update.

If you have a hotel booked in the coming weeks and months, and are unsure whether you will be able to travel, here are some of the world's major hotel chains' cancellation policies amid coronavirus


Marriott, which operates dozens of hotels in the UAE under its Marriott, Sheraton, Ritz-Carlton, Le Meridian, Westin and W brands, is waiving cancellation fees for guests travelling to and from a number of affected locations for stays up until Tuesday, March 31.

The destinations are: mainland China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, French Polynesia, Maldives, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa and Italy. All other destinations will be subject to normal cancellation and amendment fees.

The chain says it continues to closely monitor the situation and update its policy in accordance with guidelines from local health departments. “The well-being of our guests and associates is of paramount importance,” it said in a statement.


Courtesy Hilton Dubai The Walk 

Hilton Hotel group has waived modification and cancellation fees for its customers travelling from or to some of the world’s worst affected countries, as well as those with strict travel bans in place. Guests travelling to, through or from China, Italy, South Korea and Saudi Arabia before Tuesday, March 31 will be able to cancel or change their booking free of charge. All other destinations will be subject to normal cancellation and amendment fees.

A spokesperson for the brand said: “The health and well-being of our guests, team members and all who visit our properties is Hilton’s highest priority. We are actively monitoring the coronavirus (Covid-19) updates from the World Health Organisation and the US Centrrs for Disease Control and Prevention, and will continue to respond based on the best advice of governments, public health authorities and medical professionals.”


Rooms at the Radisson Red, Dubai

The Radisson hotel group has amended its cancellation policy for guests who have made reservations in any of its hotels in China, South Korea, Japan, Iran and northern Italy, making it free of charge. Any guests originating from those areas will also be able to cancel free of charge up until Thursday, April 30. Guests can contact their hotel directly or cancel via an online form.

Regular cancellation policy and fees remain in place for guests travelling to and from all other countries, although the company says it continues to monitor the development of the situation closely.


The Shangri-La in Abu Dhabi

Shangri-La Hotels has updated its cancellation and amendment policy for all guests travelling to any of its hotels in Greater China and Japan, waiving all fees. It will also scrap fees for any guests travelling from Greater China, Korea, Japan, Italy, Iran and Saudi Arabia to any of its hotels around the world on or before Tuesday, March 31, as long as the booking was made prior to March 1.

A spokesperson for the hotel group said: "Additionally, Golden Circle, the loyalty programme of the Shangri-La Group, is extending tier status for its Diamond and Jade members globally. With this extension, all Golden Circle Diamond and Jade members will maintain their current tier status and benefits until Friday, December 31, 2021. The updated status validity will be reflected in members’ profiles with immediate effect.”


Airbnb has updated its cancellation policy for guests and hosts. AFP

Airbnb has also updated its cancellation policy for both guests and hosts using the service. A spokesperson for the brand said that the updated policy will apply to anyone who can no longer complete their trip due to official travel restrictions, medical or disease control duties, flight or ground transportation cancellation initiated due to the virus.

Reservations can be cancelled without charges for guests who are traveling to or from severely impacted areas, hosts who are hosting in or welcoming guests from severely impacted areas, and anyone affected medically by the outbreak. All guests and hosts who fall under these circumstances will not need to pay cancellation fees and ratings on the site will not be affected.


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