To revive demand for air travel, struggling airlines and even some countries like Cyprus are going to extraordinary lengths and coming up with innovative ideas to make passengers feel safe about air travel. Virgin Atlantic Airways just announced that it is now providing for no charge up to £500,000 (about $650,000 or €550,000) to cover necessary and emergency medical expenses incurred due to Covid-19. Emirates began a similar program with lower limits in July.

Virgin Atlantic 

Per Virgin Atlantic’s website, benefits apply to any flight or holiday booked through Virgin Atlantic’s website of a travel agent using a Virgin Atlantic ticket, for travel between August 24, 2020 and March 31, 2021. These benefits apply to Virgin Atlantic tickets purchased at its website or through a travel agent using frequent flyer miles or credit card points.

Virgin Atlantic Upper (Business) Class. Virgin Atlantic photo

Details are:

    • Up to £500,000 necessary and emergency medical expenses incurred due to Coronavirus affecting you or your travel companions.
    • Repatriation due to Coronavirus, should it be medically necessary.
    • Denied Boarding/Quarantine coverage includes many necessary additional costs should you or your travelling companion be denied boarding or individually requested to quarantine in your destination due to Coronavirus, including personal accommodation, transport charges, refreshments, booking amendment fees and other travel expenses incurred.
    • Coverage for the whole trip, with no upper limit on the length of time away except it terminates on March 31, 2021.
    • Coverage for all passengers with no restrictions on age, travel class or length of journey.
    • There is no excess payable with this policy (unlike other traditional travel insurance policies).

                                                                                                                                      See the website above for additional information under Frequently Asked Questions.

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    Virgin Atlantic economy class.  Virgin Atlantic photo


Last month, Emirates Airlines began a similar but less generous program.  Those benefits are:

  • Assistance at any time when you fly between 23 July 2020 and 31 October 2020
  • Applies to every travel class
  • Valid for 31 days
  • No registration required
  • COVID-19 health expenses up to EUR 150,000
  • Quarantine costs EUR 100 per day for 14 days

See Emirates website for full terms and conditions.

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Emirates 777-300 business class. Emirates photo

The policies for Virgin Atlantic and Emirates pertain to Covid-19 and not other illnesses or injuries.  Consult the airlines before booking as specific terms and conditions are subject to change.

Final Thoughts

Travel health insurance is a good idea, especially these days.  Medical treatments and evacuations can be enormously expensive.  I have a policy from Allianz that covers all travel within a year.  Policies are also available from airlines or insurance companies per trip. 

The limits on my policy are much lower than the policies offered by Virgin Atlantic and Emirates; so I appreciate the free coverage Virgin Atlantic and Emirates are providing.  However, free health insurance by itself isn’t  enough to get me on a plane.  My goal is to avoid getting sick in the first place.  But when and if I did decide to travel, having the financial back up of this free additional coverage would be a strong incentive to use an airline that provides such coverage.