I booked the following ticket using the TravelUP agency for an Air China flight:
Departure on 8 April
LHR (London Heathrow, UK) -> transit in PEK (Beijing, China) -> FUK (Fukuoka, Japan)
With a return flight going the same way back on 29 April.
I was reading the following information on Air China's website:
In order to implement the requirements of Civil Aviation Administration of China and continue with the joint prevention and control of the novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia, Air China has made the following adjustments to the free refund rules to help passengers better plan their trips:
I. Applicable Tickets
All tickets with a ticket number beginning with "999" (including mileage award tickets) purchased before 0:00 AM on January 28, 2020 for Air China operated flights or CA-coded codeshare flights that have a travel date later than January 1, 2020 (inclusive).
II. Ticket Handling Rules
The tickets are valid for one year from the date of issuance. Any applicable tickets as defined above can be refunded free of charge within the validity period of one year as long as the refund is requested before the departure of the flight. We kindly ask the passengers to apply for refunds outside of peak periods.
Passengers can apply for refunds through the original channels where they purchased the tickets. Tickets purchased through the Air China website, app or WeChat applet can be directly refunded in the original order.
Air China will keep a close watch on the epidemic updates and make timely adjustments to the flights. To make better use of the transport capacity during the Spring Festival, we kindly ask the passengers to apply for refunds before the departure of the flight. If you have decided to cancel your trip, please cancel your check-in seat as soon as possible through the original check-in channels to avoid wasting the resources and to ensure the seat availability to other passengers who still need to travel.
The rules are effective immediately and supersede the previous Notes on Free Refund for Air China Flight Tickets.
The passengers' safety has always been Air China's top priority and we will respond quickly to the requirements of the authorities and provide services and support to the passengers on the shortest notice. Thank you for your understanding and support!
Air China Passenger Service Hotline: 00800-86-100-999
And so wrote to TravelUP via their contact form on the website on 7 February:
Hi, I've been reading the recent news from Air China website and it seems I might be able to cancel my flight for a free full refund? Is that correct that I can get the full price refunded? Thanks, xxxxxx
Booking no. xxxxxxxx
Reservation no.. xxxxx
Got the following reply the following day on 8 February:
Please be informed i have checked with airline and they advised passenger can apply for full refund for that need to cancel the whole booking and it will take at least 08 weeks to receive the refund from the airline.
Kindly reply to this email as confirmation if you wish to cancel the whole booking.
I then spoke with a friend before we decided to cancel and send this on 19 February:
Thank you for the response.
Yes, I confirm I would like to cancel the whole booking in order to get a full refund as per coronavirus crisis.
With the following response on the 19 February:
Please be informed that your ticket has been cancelled now and refund has been applied which you will receive after 08 weeks.
8 weeks haven't passed and I haven't received the refund yet, but I assume it's coming as promised.
My friend had a similar flight on the same day but from Stockholm instead of London and he booked via GoToGate. It took a bit of more convincing for him to get GoToGate to cancel and refund his Air China ticket but they agreed eventually.