Flexible bookings are a must

With flexible cancellation and amendment policies in bookings being projected as the top criteria for travellers to take the plunge and book their travels, airlines and hotel brands are making sure to play to the tune. Brands share their revised policies with us as they prepare to welcome guests.

Nisha Verma

While airlines and hotel brands work to build traveller confidence through safety measures, another aspect that they are striving to ensure is flexible booking and cancellation policies.


Neerja Bhatia, VP, Indian sub-continent, Etihad, shares, “If guests are scheduled to fly before March 31, 2021, they can change their flight for free. Tickets must have been issued before December 31, 2020, and Standard Fare Rules apply. If guests opt for Etihad Credit, we’ll reward them with up to US $400 and up to 5,000 Etihad Guest Miles, and they can travel any time before October 31, 2021,” she shares.


For Virgin Atlantic, their flexible booking policy gives as much choice as possible to customers, shares Alex McEwan, Country Manager – India, Virgin Atlantic. He adds, “It allows passengers to rebook their flights until December 31, 2022, if their plans change and the fare difference is only applicable on amounts exceeding £60 in Economy, £120 in Premium and £350 in Upper Class. Customers may also change their origin or destination or make one free change to names on the booking or keeping the ticket open. We have allowed ease of refunding for the agents by
allowing them to directly cancel bookings on their GDS.”


Rohit Chopra, Regional Director – Sales & Distribution India & South Asia, Accor, says that since the beginning of the pandemic, they are doing everything possible to anticipate consumer needs.

“Requests like early check-in and late check-out are taken into consideration. With our ongoing campaign, ‘For the love of Travel, for the love of Now’, guests can enjoy 30 per cent discount on their booking, a `500 meal voucher and same-day free cancellation till 6 pm.”


Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy & Revenue Officer, IndiGo, says that they understand that it is important to keep the processes of booking as well as cancellation hassle-free, especially in times like these. “Hence, we launched Flex Pay wherein customers can secure their bookings by paying only 10 per cent of the total fare amount and defer their payment on an IndiGo domestic flight for up to 15 days either from the date of booking or before the date of departure. Flexi Fare Plus allows passengers with unlimited flexibility with zero change fee and nominal cancellation charges.”


Delna Jasoomoney, Associate VP – Travel Industry Sales & Luxury Partnerships, IHCL, says, “We have revised our cancellation policies from 24 hours to 72 hours depending on the hotel/destination.”


At a time when customers are looking for flexibility and ease of booking for themselves, Sudeep Jain, MD, SWA, IHG,shares, “Our ‘Book Now, Pay Later’ offer makes travel planning commitment-free and cancellation possible up to three days before a stay for direct bookings through December 30, 2020.”


Pushpendra Bansal, COO, Lords Hotels and Resorts, says that they are very flexible in case of guest requests for cancellation or amendment. “We have waived cancellation fee and are offering free date change in case of any change in travel dates.”


Sarvar Hans, National Sales Director, Amritara Hotels & Resorts, informs that there is no limitation on cancellation for any of their properties. “We allow changing of dates and cancellations till the last minute. We are offering this without any cost,” he adds.


Hyatt informs that with some limited exceptions, reservations booked from July 1 for any future arrival date through July 31, 2021 can be cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours before scheduled arrival. “We want to help our guests and members book with confidence and cannot wait to welcome them back soon,” says Mark Hoplamazian, President and Chief Executive Officer, Hyatt.


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