I’m one of those travelers whose travel plans were cancelled or impacted by COVID-19. Locally here in the Philippines, the government is enforcing strict stay-at-home orders and travel bans. Traveling for business and pleasure is currently unforeseeable in the future.
So how can you go about getting a travel refund during the COVID-19 pandemic? Here are a few tips.
1. Push Your Trip Back (even if you don’t know when).
Consider delaying your travel, but not canceling it altogether of you know you’ll be flying or traveling to a destination at a later date – even if you don’t know when it might be.
Actually, that’s what most airlines are offering instead of reimbursements right now. You can postpone your flight, indefinitely. The money paid is set aside for use at a later time.
This is what I did with my supposed trip to Cappadocia in Turkey last March. Instead of canceling it, I decided to have it moved. Getting a refund with some airlines can be a pain in the butt. However it is not impossible if they were the ones to cancel the flight because of COVID-19 rather than you.
2. Research Companies Impacting Your Travel
You might be able to get a refund from some (but not all). If you booked your travel through third party websites like Expedia and Hotwire.
For your accommodations however, it might not offer full refund for canceled travel. Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz are offering full refunds for those who booked hotels in select countries. The countries include China, Hong Kong, Macau, South Korea, Israel, Marshall Islands, El Salvador, Denmark, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Oman, India, Poland, Cyprus, Ukraine and Italy. More countries are being added to the list regularly.
3. Don’t Shy Away From discounts
What happens if the travel provider (hotel, airline, tour provider) doesn’t allow refunds? If that’s the case you’re running into, you may ask for a discount. This is an option some tour providers are offering, giving travelers future credit to use on a future trip. Some are even giving them more credit than their previous cost.
4. Wait for a Bit Before Trying to Get A Refund
As the situations gets worse, some travel provides are loosening their restrictions as far as refunds go. If your travel date isn’t soon, you might find that waiting until closer to your dates gets you a better chance of getting a refund. Also, there’s a possibility that the airline cancels that flight or the hotel shutters for a brief period due to COVID-19 (fingers crossed). You’ll likely get a refund anyway, without having to ask for one directly.
5. Look Into Your Credit Card Benefits
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to look into the insurance of the credit card that you’ve used to book your travel. You may have cancellation coverage via your travel credit card insurance.
- Sometimes the level of service that you are getting depends on the customer service agent that you are dealing with. If you find that your airline, hotel or other travel provider isn’t helpful you may try again some other time. Don’t get mad at the agent you’re talking to as they’re under so much stress right now too. You may try reaching the company via an online chat or speaking with someone else.
- Loyalty Status (if applicable): If you’re a frequent flyer of a specific airline, you might be able to get help by pointing out your loyalty status. You never know what it might get you. If not a full refund, at least a hefty credit toward future travel is better than nothing.
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