What You Need To Know About Travel Refunds Now
It's a crazy time. None of us has ever gone through any of this before and there is a lot of confusion, especially when it comes to the multitude of trips that need to be rescheduled or cancelled. Many people are confused by the current policies. It's understandable. They vary from supplier to supplier and they are changing, quite literally, by the day. Hopefully, you have a trusted travel advisor to help you sort through the mess but, if you don't, here's a quick summary of the current cancellation and change policies.
May travel suppliers have relaxed their cancellation or change policies but only for the short-term. Cruise lines, resort and airlines are not relaxing their policies months in advance. Most are only working with people arriving through the end of May. If you decide to cancel your August trip, you will be likely subject to all the usual penalties.
For cruises cancelled during the suspension of operations, most cruise lines are offering a 100% refund or, if you choose to reschedule rather than cancel, you will get extra benefits such as a 125% credit to use toward a new cruise or a large onboard credit (or both). Many cruise lines have also amended their timelines so that you can now choose to cancel your cruise up to 48 hours before departure to get the future cruise credit. This delayed cancellation is being offered for many cruises beyond the suspension date so you have extra time to see how all of this plays out. The exact offers vary from cruise line to cruise line, but this is generally what is being done.
Airlines are not offering refunds in most cases. This is where the bulk of the confusion and upset lies. Most airlines are waiving their change fees for flights through a certain date (the date varies by airline). This means you can use the full value of your ticket toward a new ticket within a certain time -- usually within 12 months of when the ticket was issued. Each ticket is a separate credit and must be used by the person whose name was on the original ticket. They are not offering refunds if you cancel your ticket.
The exception to this is if the airline cancels the flight or significantly changes your itinerary. If the airlines does this, they are required to refund your money. Recently, however, the airlines have been giving passengers the runaround about this. I, personally, have spent hours chasing refunds for clients. It's gotten so bad that the Department of Transportation has reminded airlines of the obligation to provide refunds. Do not let the airline tell you differently.
Each resort chain is handling this differently but, in general, most resorts are allowing you to change the dates of your trip without penalty and, in many cases, they are protecting your rate. This means that if you book the same room at the same resort for new dates, you will pay no more than the price your originally paid. Most resorts are not offering refunds (a few are, but not most).
Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort
Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort are offering full refunds for guests scheduled to travel during the closure. There is also special Free Dining offer at Walt Disney World and a special discount at Disneyland Resort for guests who reschedule their trip for this summer or fall (June 1 through September 30) .
In general, hotels are offering full refunds for stays during the pandemic. The exact dates covered vary by location.
This is a general overview of what we are seeing in the industry, but exact policies can vary and they change extremely frequently, so it's important to check the most recent policy.
If you are trying to navigate this maze on your own or if you giant online travel agency (ie Expedia, Travelocity, etc.) isn't helping you, I'm happy to help you figure out what you are entitled to and whom you need to contact to get your trip serviced.
I hope you and your family are safe and well.
We will travel together again soon.