Korean Air is not offering refunds on flights to South Korea as customers desperately try to cancel trips because of coronavirus

ktaylor@businessinsider.com (Kate Taylor)
Korean Air is not offering refunds to flights to South Korea as of Tuesday.

Kate Taylor/Business Insider

  • Korean Air is not offering refunds on flights on flights to South Korea, even as the country struggles with the most severe outbreak of coronavirus outside China.
  • The airline is making exceptions for flights to China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, or for passengers who would be affected by disease-related travel bans.
  • On Tuesday, Korean Air announced that a flight attendant had tested posted for coronavirus. 
  • The CDC recently issued a warning telling American travelers that they should avoid all non-essential travel to South Korea.
  • There have been 893 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in South Korea as of Tuesday. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Korean Air is not offering refunds to flights to South Korea, even after a flight attendant tested positive for coronavirus and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised against non-essential travel there. 

On Tuesday, Korean Air announced that a flight attendant tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

A representative for the airline told Business Insider that Korean Air is taking measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus including disinfecting aircraft and self-quarantining flight attendants with symptoms. 

Details of the routes and flights of the Korean Air flight attendant who was infected with the coronavirus have not bee released. 

As of Tuesday, Korean Air is not offering refunds to customers who booked tickets to travel to South Korea, a representative confirmed to Business Insider. 

Travelers are flooding Korean Air's social media with attempts to cancel flights

On Monday, the CDC issued a level three travel advisory for South Korea, telling travelers to avoid all non-essential travel to the country. 

Korean health officials reported 60 new confirmed cases of coronavirus and one additional death in South Korea on Tuesday morning. That bring the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 893, with eight dead. 

The airline's social media has been flooded with people trying to get a refund on tickets or change their flights. 

"Hi, I am trying to contact Korean Air service centre to cancel tickets to Korea," said one Facebook comment on Tuesday.

"It is impossible to get connected to your service representative! I was waiting on hold forever the past 2 days," reads another Facebook comment. "I have a reservation to fly to Korea in May and [am] very concerned about the current situation." 

One person tweeted at Korean Air: "hi are you gonna cancel flights and refund ??? my mom wants to cancel but i think the 100usd cancellation fee is ridiculous considering that this is an unforeseen circumstance that she has no control over." 

"I would like to know about flight cancellations and refunds due to coronavirus situation," tweeted another. "One of your cabin crew is confirmed positive with the virus and I am not confident in flying with Korean Air."

Korean Air is offering refunds on certain flights impacted by the coronavirus. The airline is offering refunds on tickets for flights through China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan purchased before January 28.

Additionally, Korean Air is offering refunds to passengers with "entry restriction regarding novel coronavirus," meaning if you can get a refund if you have recently visited a country for which another country issued a travel ban.

For example, if you recently visited China, you can get a refund on your flight into the US, which has barred foreigners who have visited China in the last 14 days. 

The International Air Transport Association said on Thursday that it expects global air-traffic demand to fall roughly 4.7% in 2020 from its previously predicted figures for the year, due primarily to the coronavirus.

The IATA is forecasting a 8.2% year-over-year reduction in demand in the Asia-Pacific region, resulting in a $27.8 billion revenue loss. 

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