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How to Cancel Travel Plans During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many unintended consequences that have drastically changed our way of living. Among those is a complete disruption to the travel industry. Airlines have seen a steep decline in traffic as well as cruise ships, hotels, and pretty much every sector that relies on travel and tourism. If you had any travel plans that had to be put on hold or cancelled, in this article we’ll explore which measures travel companies have taken to deal with the effects of the pandemic and ways to cancel your trip and get your refund.

COVID-19 Related Changes to Travel

Fortunately for many consumers, airlines and hotels have relaxed their cancellation policies and are waiving fees. However, getting connected through to the airline’s customer support may seem difficult due to the high volume of calls they are receiving. Many airlines recommend to only call if your flight is within 72 hours, in order to prioritize travelers needing immediate support. Refunds for flight cancellations can vary by airline, and even by customer service representative and they can range from a full refund, to travel vouchers for a future trip. If the flight is ultimately cancelled then you are eligible for a full refund as opposed to a travel voucher.

Make Sure You Get a Refund

The best bet would be to contact the airline carrier or hotel directly, if you made a reservation through a travel site such as Expedia or Kayak, we recommend checking the individual policies on the airline and/or hotel’s website as they are the ones who set the cancellation policies. If you did not receive the compensation you wished for, make sure to follow up with customer support to dispute it. Keep in mind they are dealing with an unprecedented volume of calls and may take some time to get a hold of them. As a last resort if the airline does not give you a refund for a cancelled flight you may consider disputing the charge with your bank.

Airlines are amongst the hardest hit and are operating at huge losses at the moment, they are running low on cash and some may even face bankruptcy in the near term. If you have cancelled your travel plans and are in need of the refund, make sure to follow up until you receive your money. However, if you intend to travel in the future once things are back to normal and are not in immediate need of the money, then consider accepting credits for future consumption. These are basically interest-free loans and are a way of showing support for the travel industry.

More from Personal Finance During the COVID-19 Pandemic:
What Coronavirus Means For Your Finances
What to do With The $1,200 Economic Impact Payment?
Companies Providing Free Services And Discounts During Coronavirus
Cheat Sheet Of Resources For COVID-19

Airlines that Make it Easy to Get a Refund / Cancel

Luckily for travelers, a lot of companies understand the struggle and are relaxing their policies. Many airlines are eliminating cancellation fees for the time being including American, Delta, United, and JetBlue. Similarly, hotel chains such as Hilton and Marriott, as well as rental platform Airbnb have also changed their policies.
Some airlines have also taken the initiative to automatically issue refunds or travel vouchers on missed or cancelled flights during this critical time. The policies vary by airline so be sure to check with your airline if you have any upcoming reservation.

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