You’ve decided you need to change your booking, but what’s the best thing to do? Lonely Planet breaks down the options for you.

The short answer

Vouchers give you the promise of future travel, but lock you in to that travel company. Cash goes into your pocket, but how much of the value of your booking you get is a mixed picture. Rebooking gives you a seat on a plane, but that doesn’t mean things won’t change again.

A woman waits in a line to board a plane. She's playing with her phone
Vouchers are a good option if you plan to travel in the next few months © Andrew Bret Wallis / Getty Images

The longer answer

Taking a voucher is a good option provided you know you’re going to want to go somewhere in the coming months. Travel firms also want you to take that voucher. They keep the hard cash and the booking and, like those gift cards that get forgotten about, there’s always a chance that an issued voucher doesn’t get redeemed or expires. 

Please, if you have a voucher for future travel, make a booking with it right now – once, of course, you’ve finished reading this.

Airline voucher systems are generally working pretty well right now and certainly better than they were earlier in the year. This morning I was pleasantly surprised to be able to combine five separate travel eVouchers issued by British Airways into one and then use part of that new voucher to book five new flights all in a few minutes. My eVoucher retained the unused credit for future use. 

An aerial shot of a woman using a laptop to look at airline tickets
You may only get taxes back on a non-refundable ticket © sankai / Getty Images

Using a voucher was also far more of a seamless experience than I’ve had getting cash refunds from several airlines. As well as being slower than vouchers to be issued by some carriers, refunds can be subject to qualifications based on when you booked. In many cases, if your booking was made for travel over the period of COVID-related disruption or has been made since then the refund terms are generous. That can make the decision much easier. If it was made before, for example in January for an October or November break, and was a non-refundable or less flexible ticket, then you may only get the taxes back. It depends on the carrier and on the type of ticket you have. Check carefully what ticket you have before opting for the refund. 

A few notes on the third option of rebooking. Airlines are still getting their schedules sorted for the coming months based on demand and changing travel patterns, and are likely to be for some time. Your flight may move time, date and departure airport. Keep an eye therefore on your inbox for any updates related to this. Secondly, you will have to pay any additional cost in cash or vouchers if you have them if the difference in fare works against you.

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