All You Need to Know About Flight Cancellations

So, you might be wondering how flight cancellations work and what it means when you need to cancel a flight ticket. Perhaps, you’ve been thinking about what you’d do if you suddenly found out you won’t be able to make your trip. Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll show you the ins and outs of cancelling a flight and answer your most pressing questions.


Image courtesy of @mackie_photo_airplane via Instagram

Can you cancel an airline ticket?

In short, yes. Airlines do allow you to cancel a flight ticket but you should be careful. This almost always carries a penalty. By booking a flight with Travelstart instead, you have the option to choose from one of our three refund products (more on these further down). By adding one of these value add-ons, you can cancel your airline ticket and get a full refund of your airfare and taxes.


Image courtesy of @from_busan.jin9 via Instagram

Can you get a refund if you cancel your flight?

Some airlines charge you a cancellation fee or the full value of your ticket if you decide to cancel your flight. These cancellation fees are dependent on the airline you use. In some cases, an airline will refund you your airfare, but not the taxes (which take up the bulk of the cost). Always read the fine print when booking your flights, this will usually tell you what you can and cannot do should you not be able to catch your flight.

This isn’t the worst though. If you don’t cancel and avoid showing up for your flight, you won’t be refunded anything. However, some airlines may still refund unused taxes.

In order to avoid all of this, take a look at our refund products. If you use one, you can get a full refund of your airfare and taxes.

With Travelstart’s flight cancellation protection, you have the guarantee of receiving a full refund of your airfare and taxes if you cancel your ticket before the scheduled departure of your flight.

Below are our useful cancellation products that you can add to your flight booking. Take note that you have to add them to your booking when purchasing your flights.

The Cancel within 7 days product allows you to cancel your flight within seven days after you’ve completed your booking! You will then get a full refund of airfare and taxes for any reason. This product is only available for international flights and when the departure date is more than 15 days away. This product is not available through Flapp.

The Cancel anytime product lets you cancel a flight for any reason 48 hours before the scheduled departure of your flight and receive a full refund of airfare and taxes. This refund option is only available for international travel. This product is not available through Flapp.

The cost of purchasing the Cancel within 7 days and Cancel anytime products depends on your cabin class and the details of your flight.

The Medical Cancellation Refund product allows you a full refund if you suddenly get ill, there’s a death in your travel group, or you or a close relative gets admitted to hospital. A close relative according to the Travelstart policy is your husband, wife, partner, child, grandchild, brother, sister, parent or grandparent. This refund requires proof, such as a doctor’s note, form for hospital admission or discharge, or death certificate. The product is only valid if you request a cancellation before your scheduled departure date. You can use the Medical Cancellation Refund product for both domestic and international travel. You can purchase it through Flapp. Please note that the processing time of this refund is determined by the airline, not Travelstart.

Medical Cancellation Refund Cost:

  • Domestic – From R90
  • International – From R280

Please be aware that when receiving your refund, it will only be the airfare and taxes. No other additional costs you incurred will be refunded, such as car and hotel reservations.

Remember that you have to purchase these products at the same time you make your flight booking, otherwise, you will not get a refund when you cancel your flight. You cannot buy any of our cancellation products after you have made a booking. You CANNOT cancel your booking after the flight has departed. If you do so, the airline will consider you a “no-show” and your ticket could then be non-refundable (some tickets are 100% non-refundable, since airlines would then sell your seat to avoid loss of income).

Also read:

Find out how you can get your money back when an airline is liquidated.

Read up on what you can do when you miss your flight.



How can I add these products to my booking?

Follow this simple process to ensure you’re protected against flight cancellations:

  1. Visit the Travelstart website
  2. Search for your preferred flight and select your available dates
  3. Complete the online form
  4. You will then be taken to a page to customise your trip
  5. Further down, select the Cancellation Refund product you wish to use
  6. Once you are happy with everything, click Continue
  7. You will then arrive at the payment area, where you can select your preferred payment method and book your flight

Customise Your Trip updated

If you need more help on the booking process, get everything you need to know to book your flights.

Please also note…

  1. For the products that we offer, the processing of your refund will take six to 12 weeks, since the actual refunds are processed by the airline.
  2. With our products, you can only cancel a flight before your outbound flight departs.
  3. Our products do not cover any car or hotel reservations you may have made.


flight cancellations stress free travel

Now that you know all about flight cancellations, you can book your flights with complete peace of mind. Where do you plan to go next? Will you be taking a cruise down the River Thames in London? Do you want to see the northern lights in Norway? Maybe you’re longing to explore the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador.

Are you still in need of some travel inspiration? Subscribe to our newsletter and take a look at our flight specials.

Remember to select your preferred cancellation protection and book your cheap flights with Travelstart!

Have you discovered any alternatives to cancelling your flight? Let us know in the comments.

All information on this page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of information from this website.

Our Readers Comments

  1. I have been trying since the 22nd of Feb to cancel flights going to Dominican Republic. As they were going via JFK it was not possible due to covid so we had to book new flights. This is the ref no ZA08477720 and it was for two people. I have emailed 3 times you cant call as you only get press 1 etc. Booking is not a problem but if you have a problem no response. Please sort this out even by just acknowledging the email. Im angry its our money

    • Hi Marylein,

      Sorry you have been struggling to reach us. Due to Covid 19 Pandemic reaching its second wave we are receiving high volumes of booking queries, with many customers trying to get assistance. For this reason we have closed our phone lines temporarily.

      When calling we do advise our lines are closed and provide options on how to reach our operations team.

      We have all agents assisting and responding to all our customers reaching out to us as quickly as efficiently as possible.

      We received your email on the 23 February requesting a refund quote for your flights departing that evening. A quote was sent on the 26th February to the email address used to make the booking.

      Our refunds team have resent the quote again earlier this morning.

      Please follow the prompts which is be provided at the bottom of the quote and click on the link provided- should you wish to accept and proceed with the refund.

  2. Good Day I need to make a name change to a booking
    I am not getting ahold of anyone?

    • Hi Cornelius,

      Thanks for reaching out and sorry for the struggle in trying to reach our team.

      To get assistance with ones booking you can use our Online Contact Form which can be found on our site:

      Once completed your booking will be queued off to the relevant team one one of our agents will be in touch via email to assist.

  3. Hello

    i booked flight to George Town for the 26th of December and return on the 2nd of January 2021, but due to the rising cases of Covid in the area l would like to cancel my flights as my uncle is a high risk person to go with to the place.

    • Hi Georgina,

      Thanks for reaching out. I’ve done a search using your name and surname and email address and unable to locate a booking.

      If you have booked with Travlestart please email our refunds team at: with your Travelstart reference number and request.

      We have a team managing that inbox who will respond and assist. All bookings need to be cancelled prior to original date and time of departure – please email them minimum 48 hours prior to departure for our team to email with a quote.

  4. Can someone please get back to me. I have been trying your online chat forum as I sent an email to you and was advised to contact you via online chat. However I am getting no feedback.

    I need a cancellation quotation for booking ZA08239222.

    • Hi Anri,

      Thanks for reaching out and sorry for the struggle in trying to reach us.

      I’ve called up your booking: ZA08239222 and see our refunds team have been in contact with you via email with a quote.

      To go ahead with the refund processing have your Travelstart reference ready and select the following option: COVID 19- Confirmation of refund quote received by clicking on this link they provided in the quote.

      For any further refund queries you welcome to email the team direct at:


    Please note I booked a flight from Durban to JHB on 03.11.2020 and return 09.11.2020.

    I will however want to cancel this flight.

    Please contact me urgently.

    076 2212942

    Thank you

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You welcome to search for flight prices directly on our website

      Here you are able to view all the different airlines that operate a specific route to ensure that you choose the cheapest possible option.

      Should you wish to get assistance in receiving a quote and making a reservation, we have a team of Travel Experts that would love to help.

      You can contact our direct sales team, Travelstart Live by completing the following contact us form:

      Scroll down and Complete the form with your booking request and one of our agents will be in touch to assist with a quote.

      Alternatively you welcome to email them direct at:

  6. Hi,
    I am Zodwa Mentoor. I have booked a flight to East London, however I have to change it to George and change the dates too. I have emailed Travel start and the response was I have to pay R2400, it’s three of us. I have asked if the R2400 is per person, I have not received any response yet. If this is the case, it is like booking a new flight. If I cancel, what will happen as I didn’t choose a cancelation product when I book the flight?

    • Hi Zodwa,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I’ve done a search using your email address and located your booking.

      I see our Amendments team have been in touch responding to your email queries.

      We do apologies for the response time via emails. Due to the high volumes of queries there is a delay but please be assured we have all hands on deck responding to our customers emails as quickly as possible.

  7. I need to know how and where to request refund. The airline concelled my flight. I need to get refuned so I can purchase a new ticket.

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for reaching out. If you have purchased your flights with Travelstart South Africa, you can e-mail our refunds team direct at:

      They will look at the directives provided to us by that airline and will quote accordingly.

      If you have purchased your ticket directly with the airline, I’m afraid we will not have access to your booking and you would need to contact the airline direct.

  8. Hello travelstart,

    I had a booking that is now suspended on the app, its date was 12 Jun from Cairo to New York, I tried contacting you via e-mail and phone and I got no answer back for so long. I need to reschedule the flight to the nearest date URGENTLY.

    Flight details are: Booking Confirmation no. EG07934547
    Passenger Name: Yussef Tarek Ibrahim

    Kindly give me a quick reply, thank you.

    • Hi Yusseff,

      Thanks for reaching out and sorry for the struggle in trying to reach out team.

      I’ve sent your booking query onto Our team in the Middle East are managing this inbox and will be in touch regarding your options.

    • Hello again,

      Thank you for your reply, a mail was sent to me with new dates, but I sent a reply to the mail and I have no idea what takes so long from your team to reply back. I want to confirm the date of the ticket on 8/7/2020 and change the date of return to a date in the 4th week of September.

      I’m running out of time and I need a quick change of plans please, so I can confirm the dates and finalize the payment change.

      Thank you again.

    • Hi Yussef,

      Apologies for the delay in responding to your e-mail.

      Your feedback has been passed onto our team in the Middle East who will keep a look out for your e-mail and will be in touch.

    • right now, I’m so frustrated,

      this is by far one of the worst situations I have encountered in my travels,

      I was supposed to receive a final mail with dates to confirm and pay, more than 48 hours passed, and no reply.

      I sent an e-mail after 48 hours of the last mail, and I got no reply, and this is surprising as your team here is great with response time, while the middle east customer care team replying e-mails has an unacceptable delay.

      I was supposed to confirm a flight on 8/7 , today is 6/7 and I have no confirmation. My whole plan is falling apart as I have other things to be planned in the light of the flight confirmation; like my inter-city travel from mine to CAI for my flight.

      I need a final reply in my case not just as soon as possible, I need it today, and if I’ll have my reply by tomorrow: 7/7/2020 , it would be impossible for me to travel on the desired date (8/7/2020), THOUGH I REPLIED WITH DESIRED DATE ON THE SAME INSTANCE AS THE MAIL WAS SENT TO ME.

      I want the agent following my case to give me quick responses to finish this, as this new situation will require changing my initial flight AGAIN to be on 10/7/2020

      Initial flight: 10/7/2020 CAI TO JFK
      RETURN FLIGHT: 24/9/2020 JFK TO CAI

      I need a reply today, a final one.

      Thank you.

    • Hi Yussef,

      Apologies for the delay in response to your e-mail and appreciate your feedback.

      I have escalated this onto our Team in the Middle East asking them to make contact with you to assist over the phone.

      They will get in touch with you on the number showing in your booking.

  9. Hello,

    I booked for 8. April (L3FKJD) flight from Zagreb to Istanbul and back for 4 people, but the flight was canceled and I have an open ticket. Can I now exchange for flight 2.7. -5.7.Zagreb-Istanbul-Zagreb? For just 2 Passangiers. And what is going to happend with that two Pasangiers that not traveled? Can I get Voucher?

    Thank you.
    Best Regards

    • Hi Antonia,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I’ve searched for your booking using your e-mail address and the airline reference number you have provided and unable to locate a booking. If you have booked with the airline direct or another agent I’m afraid we will not have access to your booking to see the airline policy so would not be able to advise.

      Please contact the airline or agency you booked with. They will be able to advise according to the airline directives what your options would be.


    • Hi Joan,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I have contacted Mango and spoke to Martha who confirmed your Mango flight was cancelled and submitted for a voucher. I will contact you shortly to see if you have received the travel voucher which the airline will send from their side.

      Regarding your Kulula flight I see it has been suspended. Please check your inbox as you should have received the following e-mail from Travelstart:

      Comair entered into business rescue on 5 May 2020 and will not be operating any flights on Kulula or BA Comair until 1 November 2020. The airline is making the following offer available to affected clients:

      You can suspend the ticket which means cancel your flights and put the booking on hold. We have suspended your ticket in the meantime. When you are ready to travel we can rebook your new flights (travel needs to be completed by 31 Oct 2021). The airline will waive the change fee but requires us to collect any difference in fare and taxes. The cost will depend on what booking class is available at the time of rebooking.

      Refunds are suspended for the time being, the airline is not processing any new refund requests or any refund requests submitted before they went into business rescue. We are engaging with Comair daily and once we have been given a directive on how to proceed with refund requests we will let you know.

      Regardless of the outcome, as soon as we have more information that may impact you we will communicate this to you.

      The information supplied at the time of sending this email is correct and updated. The airline reserves the right to amend this policy at any given time


  11. Hi I have booked 3 tickets to go to India But now we cannot travel due to covid 19 situation I have sent mails regarding the cancellation but so far no response who do i approach in this case.were your service is so bad no once has responsibility to answer. to mails or phone pls reply to me as its a big amount to me .

    • Hi Kenneth,

      Thanks for reaching out and regret to hear you have not received the best service from our team.

      I’ve done a search using your e-mail address and found your 3 bookings for departing 28 June 2020. This has been escalated onto our team in the Middle East.

      One of our agents will be in touch within 48 – 72 hours regarding your options for your booking.

      Due to Covid-19 we are receiving high volumes of queries and prioritizing bookings by date of departure as there are many passengers affected. However our team will be in touch via e-mail soonest with your options.

  12. Good day
    I have a booking Ref #ZA07988521 ticket numbers: 125-3316268070, 125-3316268071, FA-66559-22471446, FA-6655922471447 which I bought for Johannes Nicolaas Buys and Rosemarie June Buys. As all flights were cancelled, I filled out the cancellation request form per individual ticket as was sent to me on 01 April.
    I received reply from Safair and were issued with vouchers to the value of those tickets. As at this moment, I have not received any correspondence with regards to the British Airways tickets. Please advise.

    • Hi Steph,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      I’ve called up your booking and see one of our amendments agents Julian has been in touch with regards to the BA flights. For any further amendment queries you welcome to e-mail

      We have a team managing this inbox and one of our agents will respond.

  13. Hey.
    I would like to cancel a flight which is scheduled on the 21st March 2020. My reference is ZA08013767 it was booked on 7 March 2020. My email address is

    I would also like to know; instead of a refund, would I be able to use the payment to make the same book for an unconfirmed date?

    OUR REFERENCE :ZA07594039
    MY husband, JCL Visser and I AS Visser are both seniors and I don’t think it is safe for us to take to chance to travel with Ethihad to Abu Dhabi and then to Australia and back.
    I would like to cancel the bookings.

    • Hi Anna,

      Thanks for reaching out. I see our refunds team have been in touch via e-mail. An e-mail was sent from: to the e-mail address used to make the booking.

      Should you wish to accept the quote, please respond to their e-mail.

  15. Dear Travelstart, our study tour to NSW, Sydney (ticket Qantas ref ZA07960035) from CT-Jhbg has unfortunately been cancelled due to the current Covid19 virus. I have been trying to contact Qantas to cancel my booking but to no avail as the help-line remains unanswered. There is unfortunately also no Qantas office CTI only in Jhbg (Oliver Tambo). My flight departure is scheduled from CT at 15:00 today. Please advise accordingly. I have a HEPSTAR Travel insurance and not sure which category of cancellations this applies to as I would like to apply for cost recovery. I hope that this notification will suffice under the given circumstances.
    Kind regards


  16. Kindly assist me to cancel my flights. The reference is ZA07731781.
    I have paid by credit card and have been advised that you should contact my bank to request for cancellation of the transaction, My conference in Nice has been cancelled. PLEASE respond.
    I have sent numerous messages, but have received no feedback

    • Hi Susan,

      Thanks for getting in touch and sending your Travelstart reference number through.

      I’ve called up your booking and see our Refunds team have been in touch via e-mail. For any further refund queries please e-mail them direct at: with all your details and booking query. We have a team specialising in this area and will assist.

  17. On booking I entered the incorrect dates and only discovered once a made payment but cancelled immediately. Am I still penalized for this

    • Hi Garth,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      This will depend on the airline booked. Some airlines like Mango and Fly Safair cancellations are not possible once payment is made and ticket is issued. These are the airlines rules which we like all agents are governed by.

      If it’s an international booking, you must contact call or e-mail the same day the booking is made. Our agents will need your Travlestart reference number so they can see what airline was booked and look at the rules of the ticket. They will not be able to advise until they have all the relevant information. However they will always try their best to assist where possible.

  18. Am i able to change a date on my flight on travel start

    • Hi there,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      If you have booked your flight with Travelstart you welcome to e-mail our Amendments team direct at: with your Travelstart reference number and new dates of travel.

      They will look at the rules of the ticket and then availability and respond to your e-mail. Alternatively you are also welcome to contact us on:
      0027 21 4684300 to get assistance over the phone. All changes to a booking need to be made before the original date of departure.

  19. I have not taken any cancellation protection but I need to cancel my flight. What do I do

    • Hi Shamain,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      If you have made your booking with Travelstart, please e-mail our Refunds Team direct at with your Travelstart reference number and request.

      They will look at the rules of the ticket as well as the airline you are travelling on and revert with feedback.

  20. I have made an error on my bookings and need to change the date 14 days ahead of my booking.
    I have phoned and kept on hold for over 35 min!! I have emailed and they have confirmed that they have received my email, however, I need to find out the price for the change and no one has come back to me.
    Can someone kindly help and advise how I can go about this urgently.

    • Hi Helen,

      Apologies for the struggle in trying to reach our operations team. I’ve done a search using your e-mail address and unable to locate a recent booking for travel in 2018 or 2019

      For any changes to a booking please contact our amendments team direct on:

      Please send them your Travelstart booking number as well as new dates of travel and one of our amendments agents will be in touch.

  21. I don’t see any option on the website to actually cancel the flight! How do I go about doing this? You advertise the cancellation features but it seems next to impossible to cancel? Please help!

    • Hi Megan,

      If you’ve made your booking through Travelstart you can e-mail our refunds team at: with your Travelstart booking number and cancellation query. They will look at the rules of the ticket and will get back to you with a cancellation quote.

      Should you wish to accept the quote and proceed with the cancellation you will need to reply to their cancellation quote confirming in writing you accept.

  22. your customer service is pathetic. i spoke to a lady to change my dates and she said she will send me a payment which i never got. then i called to check whats happening and i was informed my ticket was cancelled as i did not make payment and i had to make another booking. i made another booking only to get an e-mail informing me i booked twice and both my bookings are still valid.

    they said i can claim for a refund before the date of the flight but they did not send me the fund mail.

    they are terrible. no trained staff and no one to assist

    • Hi Tharishka,

      Sorry to hear this is the reason you are contacting us and that you have not had a great experience when booking with Travelstart.

      I’ve done a search using the e-mail address you mailed us from and have only found one booking for travel in October.

      Your e-ticket was mailed at: SENT # 20:40:37 Wed, 19 Sep 18
      An invoice was sent at: SENT # 00:45:03 Thu, 20 Sep 18
      A payment link was sent at: SENT # 09:26:30 Fri, 21 Sep 18
      An e-mail with the subject line: Urgent: Regarding the amendment query for booking (xxxxxxxx) : SENT # 08:12:09 Sat, 22 Sep 18
      An e-mail with regards to a refund sent at: SENT # 12:32:00 Thu, 04 Oct 18

      Please send us the Travelstart booking numbers of both booking and the e-mail address used to make the booking.

      If you are not receiving any of our e-mails maybe the e-mail address used to make the booking was incorrect.

      You welcome to send us an e-mail at: where one of our agents will look into this. Please send all details as this does help speed up the process.

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