The coronavirus pandemic paralyzed the travel industry around the world. Many of us are still frantically fighting to recuperate money invested in our trips. And it is not an easy battle. Individuals are left to themself to fight for their rights. But what rights? Actually, when you take a closer look, what we are left with is determination and hope for the best. The good news is that most of us eventually will receive our refunds or at least credits for future travels, but that success requires a deeper knowledge of the battlefield. In this post, you will learn essential strategies on how to get your money back.
When coronavirus put the travel industry on its knees, I had two trips paid for. One was a week-long visit to Paris with two hotel reservations and flights. Another one was a three-week trip to California and Oregon with flights, car rental, and 11 hotel reservations. To make these trips affordable, I used miles, points, coupons bought with miles, and credit cards free anniversary nights for the hotel stays.
Plus, the worse of all. I had non-refundable reservations for a car rental and two hotels, As you can imagine, canceling all of this was a nightmare. On the bright side, I gained a broad knowledge of how to approach canceling your travel during this pandemic and in my future travels. Here is what you need to know when trying to recuperate your money.
Do not rush to cancel your travel
If you cancel your travel arrangements, the responsibility for resolving the contract is on you. Your travel provider will most likely offer you only credit for future use. By taking this step, you are losing your bargaining power toward receiving a refund.
This is why it is crucial not to take action prematurely. The good news is that no one has the right to keep your money forever. You will eventually hear from the providers, and if they cancel, chances are you will get your money back.
Take action at least a week in front of your travel dates if you still did not hear from your travel provider
As stated above, waiting for your travel provider to initiate a cancellation is a good thing to do, but eventually, you need to take action if your travel dates are getting close, and you did not get any updates on your reservation.
Give yourself a week to straighten things out. Waiting to the last minute may put you in a panic mode and may want to grab whatever is being offered to you. Also, with no time left, your negotiation power will be lower. Also, important to know, you need to address the problem before your scheduled travel dates. It is because a no-show status most likely will jeopardize your travel refund.
Insist on refund versus credit for future travel
The coronavirus pandemic puts many travelers on edge. It is a scary thing when your travel investment seems to be slipping out of your hands, but keep your nerves under control. When guided by panic, you may accept less favorable solutions that give you a false feeling of keeping your money.
When accepting a credit, whether it is a voucher, coupon, or a credit code, you are gambling with your money. Why? Because many travel providers, including airlines, may not survive the current crisis. Also, no one knows how coronavirus pandemics is going to affect our lives months ahead. Is it going to be safe to travel?
Keep checking your flights for the signs of flight cancellation or changes to determine if you are entitled to a travel refund
During the coronavirus pandemic, airlines got my vote for the most dishonest among travel providers. I had two round trip flights scheduled, one with United Airlines to Paris and one with American Airlines to San Francisco. At the time of reservations, both were showing on my frequent flyer accounts.
Then all of a sudden they disappeared without a trace. I could not even find them in my reservation history. Of course not, because that would require to spell out that the flight was canceled! You would think that any changes would be communicated to me, but they were not. I did not receive any emails regarding changes.
The bottom line, if you cannot find your flight reservation in your account, take action. Assume that significant changes took place, but the airline is not eager to share them with you. Pick up the phone and call to see what happened to your flight and request a refund.
Know your rights – when your flight is canceled, you are entitled to a refund – that is the law!
“For domestic flights, as well as international ones departing or arriving in the U.S., you’re covered by the rules of the Department of Transportation. As it says on the DOT’s website, if your flight is canceled — no matter the reason — you are entitled to a full refund back to your original form of payment for the unused portion of your itinerary.” Source:- Refunds for Canceled Flight by the Points Guy.
Find more information in Forbes Magazine: Learn What to do if an Airline is Not Willing to Refund Your Flight.
When talking to airlines, do not buy that your flight was changed when it was, in fact, canceled. Insist on getting your travel refund.
Remember, airlines realize that most travelers know that if their flight was canceled, they are entitled to a refund. This is why airlines will admit to cancellation only if they have no other choice. For example, when all fights to and from Europe or China are banned.
With domestic routes, there is more room for a foul play. Imagine that an airline has five flights scheduled from New York to San Francisco for your date of travel. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the demand is so low, and only one plane is flying that day.
To solve the problem, an airline takes the liberty to put all passengers into the remaining one flight. If you were supposed to be flying on any of the four canceled flights, an airline will insist that your flight was changed, not canceled.
No everyone knows that you are entitled to a refund even if your flight was changed!
That is a grey area because there are no official publications on the subject. When investigating my options to get my money back, I learned from an American Airlines representative that, if your flight was changed by more than an hour, you should get a refund.
According to the representative, this rule is being observed by American, United, and Delta airlines, and it is not only during coronavirus pandemic. That is valuable information for your future flights. In other publications touching this issue, I noticed the term “significant changes” but without further explanation.
Use social media to resolve your problem
When you are getting nowhere, try to use social media to get your refund. Many people claim a successful outcome. It makes sense since providers are trying to avoid bad publicity. Twitter is being recommended as the best venue.
If do not see any collaboration from your travel provider, dispute the charge on your credit card
Many travel experts suggest taking this action as a last resort, but if your travel provider is playing games to keep you misinformed, do not hesitate to use this approach sooner. When my flights disappeared from my account and no emails came to inform me about the changes, I felt my consumer rights were violated, so I filed a dispute.
Most credit card companies assume that you are right and will put your money back into your account while they investigating the dispute. I used credit card companies to fight for my rights many times before and each time with success.
Most travel insurances do not cover coronavirus pandemic
Among many of the travel reservations I mentioned above, two were nonrefundable. I made them only because they offered a big saving if paid upfront. I was thinking that if anything goes wrong, my travel insurance will pick up the cost. Wrong! Pandemic is not covered under a regular travel insurance policy unless it states “cancel for any reason”.
How to return to traveling
It will not be immediately but eventually, we will return to traveling. But be very cautious with your plans. Learn How To Plan Your Travel Amid CCOVI-19 Crisis Without a Fear of Losing Your Money.
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