I have to be honest. This is the least excited I’ve ever been to write a blog post. How to cancel or reschedule travel?! I’m sorry, I truly am, but this needs to be addressed. Obviously, if your trip was supposed to take place in March or April of 2020, more than likely it’s done for due to travel bans, flight cancellations and shelter in place orders. My heart goes out to all the brides out there as well. In the end, it’s about the love you have for your partner. I know, I know. It still doesn’t take away the pain of a postponed wedding.
As I write this, there are more than 1 million coronavirus cases around the world. So far, 51,485 people have died from the virus. It’s completely devastating and a shock to everyone’s system and life as we all knew it…including anything having to do with travel. This is a massive part of my business, especially as it relates to LimitLes, the retreat arm of The Road Les Traveled. After spending hours on the phone and on email rescheduling various trips, I’ve learned a thing or two about how the industry is operating in such a pandemic.
The good news? Numerous travel companies have considerably relaxed their change and cancellation policies at least through the end of April or May. The bad news? If it’s a full refund you’re hoping for (unless the supplier canceled your trip, and even then it’s not a guarantee), you’re not likely going to get one although it’s complicated. If you have travel plans further into the year, there’s no reason to cancel right now…especially knowing the travel industry is on its knees and needs our patience and funds to continue operating.
Note: For the latest information, pay attention to alerts from the World Health Organization and the embassy of the country where you intend to travel.
Do I need to cancel my trip abroad?
WHO travel advice continues to go against traveling to countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks. The CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential international travel. In countries where commercial travel options remain available, U.S. citizens should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite length of time. I know people trapped in Peru and Mexico due to the closing of borders. The question that remains is what to do about traveling in May, June, July and beyond? Many people are holding out hope that we’ll flatten the curve by then, but only time will tell.
Will my airline refund my ticket due to coronavirus?
Delta, American, JetBlue, United, and Alaska airlines have waived change fees for upcoming flights, no matter the destination. Southwest Airlines already allows travelers to change or cancel their reservations without penalty. For more information on rebooking upcoming travel, contact your airline directly.
Will Airbnb give me a refund?
It depends. The current message on Airbnb’s website states the following: Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made on or before March 14, 2020, with a check-in date between March 14, 2020 and May 31, 2020, are covered by the policy and may be canceled before check-in. Guests who cancel will have a variety of cancellation and refund options, and hosts can cancel without charge or impact to their Superhost status. Airbnb will either refund, or issue travel credit that includes, all service fees for covered cancellations.
For hotels, other vacations rentals and online agencies like booking.com, many are allowing travelers to cancel without penalty and receive a credit to use for future travels.
What should I do if I booked a cruise?
CDC recommends that travelers defer all cruise travel worldwide. Like the airline, hotel, tour and rental industries, the poor cruise industry is really feeling the effects. Many cruise lines have canceled all itineraries through May or even further out. Because of this, many lines are offering a choice of a full refund (cash back) or a credit for a future travel while offering great incentives like onboard spending money and bonuses. Crazy stories are coming out of this industry such as The Zaandam ship sailing from Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 7 and originally supposed to end in San Antonio, Chile, on March 21st. They are currently disembarking in Florida after being turned away from port after port. A handful of other ships are trying to negotiate disembarkation as well.
Will travel insurance cover my cancellation costs?
The thing about travel insurance is that you need to secure it immediately after you book a trip. If you wait, you may miss out on a lot of benefits. Anyone concerned about upcoming trips should purchase a travel insurance plan that includes “cancel for any reason” coverage. Allianz Travel Insurance states the following on their site: We are currently accommodating claims for:
- Under Emergency Medical Care Benefit: Emergency medical care for a customer who becomes ill with COVID-19 while on their trip.
- Under Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption Benefits: Trip cancellation and trip interruption if a customer becomes ill with COVID-19 either before or during their trip.
Customers may change their plan’s effective dates to cover a new or rescheduled trip. We are offering refunds for the cost of your travel protection plan to customers who wish to cancel their travel protection plan if the customer’s travel supplier canceled the customer’s trip due to COVID-19. That’s just one example. Contact your plan for more info.
What if I didn’t get travel insurance?
Considering the global pandemic, contact your airline or hotel directly to see if they have policies for cancellations that are specifically accommodating travelers during the outbreak. Obviously, there is no one-size-fits-all policy in the travel industry. Everything is a mess, a mess we will soon leave behind as the world heals and we find a vaccine.
Credit card concierge is key right now. If you have a premium credit card, the concierge service should be able to let you know your options within a matter of minutes…or maybe hours considering their lines are probably swamped.
If the supplier cancels, you should be entitled to a full refund. Don’t accept the voucher.
Check all channels. If the phone wait time is astronomical, try twitter, Facebook or Instagram DM.
The U.S. government has delayed the Oct. 1, 2020, deadline for Real ID, one of the accepted forms of identification travelers will need to use in place of a regular driver’s license to get through airport security under the federal Real ID law. The new deadline is Oct. 1, 2021.
WHO has launched a dedicated messaging service in Arabic, English, French and Spanish. Send “hi” to +41 79 893 18 92 on WhatsApp for English texts.
Criminals are disguising themselves as WHO to steal money or sensitive information. If you are contacted by a person or organization that appears to be from WHO, verify their authenticity before responding. The only donations WHO has issued is the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.