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COVID-19 ruined my travel plans. Now what?

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If COVID-19 canceled your travel plans, you are likely disappointed and wondering about refunds, credits, or vouchers for plane tickets, cruise bookings, tours, and more. Even if your scheduled travel is months away, you might be weighing your options. And many travel service providers seem to be working to address concerns about upcoming trips. 

Start by reviewing the travel provider’s refund policies and the terms of your reservation to see your options. In addition, many companies are posting information on their websites about COVID-19 travel-related questions. Many are offering refunds or rebooking options in light of the situation. Of course, check to see if you purchased travel insurance and what it covers. Some travel insurance policies may refund your cancelled trip.

Here’s what we know right now:

Airlines: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines must offer refunds, including the ticket price and any optional fee charged for cancelled or significantly delayed flights, even when flight disruptions are outside their control. If your airline isn’t doing that, you can report it to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

 

Cruise Lines: If you booked a cruise, your options will vary by cruise line. Your ticket contract lays out cancellation policies and your rights. For example, you may be offered a refund, or a credit or voucher for a future cruise. If you opt for a credit or voucher, make sure the expiration date is far enough out that you can use it. Read more from the Federal Maritime Commission about your rights and the recourse that might be available to you.

 

Trains: Amtrak is waiving change fees for reservations made before May 31, 2020; you can make changes online at Amtrak.com. For cancellations and refunds, call 1-800-USA-RAIL.

 

Lodging: Some hotel chains may be loosening their cancellation policies, waiving change and cancellation fees that would normally apply to non-refundable rates. Check with the hotel for your options.

 

As with many purchases, your best option is usually to directly contact the company you booked with to see if you can resolve a problem. So, whether you booked directly with an airline or hotel, or you used a travel site or consolidator, start with them. Then, to report a travel-related problem, contact your State Attorney General’s office or tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

To learn more about consumer issues resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic, sign up for the FTC’s consumer alerts at ftc.gov/subscribe.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

Please comment on health travel insurance companies, who simply said mid-March they were no longer honoring an existing policy. Where to go for help?

thanks for this imported Infos

This article couldn’t have been more well-timed today. My trip to Cancun was cancelled three weeks ago by a major airline (unnamed), which would have left tomorrow, May 2nd. Needless to say, everything has been thrown into total chaos by Covid-19 for everyone across the globe. While my airline has offered future vouchers, I’m still having trouble with getting a refund or credit from the travel agency I used to book my resort. Hopefully they return my call or contact me somehow. I’ve placed an online request for a refund/other options, it’s just a nightmare for everyone planning anything, and every business involving travel is just so backed up. Thanks FTC, for the article.
-RC

I am also trying to recover a refund or even a credit voucher for our trip to Spain from ASAP Travel. We had canceled March due to covid-19. ASAP has been less than helpful. I have been dealing with about 5 different people and still am waiting for answers. Good luck to you.

I had booked for tour through Trafalgar. They refunded all but deducted $903. Of this they offered $350 credit towards future trip. So I am losing $553.

I'm in the same situation. Booked my flight thru ASAP tickets. My 1st agent is no available then a 2nd was assigned. Now she's not responding to my emails neither is she picking my calls.

My policy says I can get 100% refund should the flight be cancelled, any advice on legal route to recover my money? Please Please

I am having the same problem with ASAP. I spoke to several agents who were no help at all. Finally I was able to fill up a request for refund form. But guess what? Despite my having a travel protection insurance, ASAP is deducting $350 as penalty charges which is ridiculous. Hopefully I get my money back.

YesI I have the same experience with ASAP. We booked 5 tickets for the Phils, but because of the Pandemic , the trip was cancelled. So ASAP told me that I can reschedule our trip until Sept. of 2021.
Analyzing the situation, we are definitely sure not to push through with the travel plan anymore this year. So I contacted ASAP and the travel agent whom I transacted was no longer available. Thank God another agent helped me and gave me options , but we’re definite not to travel so I preferred to get the refund. As what I understand, the airlines will refund 100% but ASAP will charge me $350 each person for the processing fee . So I paid $1,750 outright . It was really a rip off and I felt so frustrated because we tried to save that money for a year and it’s a big chunk . I understand they will charge us because they are the one processing it but why that big ? Please help me . Thank you.

I have the same problem. They do bad practice and taking advantage of covid

I cant seem to get any satisfaction from ASAP travel Agency. My trip was cancel due to covid 19 and I'm still trying to get Over 800.00 dollars back or a credit. I called them over and over and no one can seem to help me. I want my money back or a credit I can use next year!

same here

I am in the same boat. Is there anything that can be done. Feel like they are committing fraud.

I feel your pain. ASAPTICKETS is the Worst! I’ve been dealing with them since April, trying to get a full refund! Buyer beware!!!

same here !!! I don't know what their problem is but I need my money or my voucher!!!

We bought tickets from ASAP in Feb, 2020 with travel protection insurance. Airlines cancelled the flight due to covid. We were hoping we can just have vouchers or ecredit and not refund because it's not 100% per ASAP. Finally they said airlines refunded 100% of our money but each one has to pay up front $250 each to the consolidator. Can someone tell me why i have to pay the consolidator.t ravel protection we paid is now a bubble too. Can i get the $500 we paid for me and my husband? Thanks. I need help on this.

What about car rentals? I booked a reservation for May 9 rental from Fox Car Rental in Florida before Covid-19 outbreak. I have no future plans to visit Florida, so I would not want to rebook for a future rental, as offered through their policy. My flight was cancelled, and my lodgings were cancelled without problem. I DO foresee a problem with Fox. What is my recourse, aside from loosing over $300? Anyone else in similar situation? How did you fare?

Yes! I am in the same situation with not receiving our $312 for rental car from trip we didn’t take but sure did pay for. Travelocity has taken $912 from us $600 worth of flight credits and $312 for rental car.

I bought round trip tickets for my grand children to fly from Charlotte NC to JFK arriving at JFK on March 16, 2020 and returning on March 22, 2020. American will not refund the charge of $422.22 to my credit card and will only give the same passengers a credit for the same flight at a date 12 months from their original Flights. They won’t refund my money or give me back the credits This is unacceptable

Try calling the CC company. They might be able to help with your situation.

See article above
"According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines must offer refunds, including the ticket price and any optional fee charged for cancelled or significantly delayed flights, even when flight disruptions are outside their control. If your airline isn’t doing that, you can report it to the U.S. Department of Transportation."

I went ahead and canceled my April 15th flight to NYC but, only after the following events: * Feb 29, first death here in WA. * March 8, cases reached 500 in US. * March 11, WHO said this is a Pandemic. * March 13, president declares national state of emergency. * March 15, US cases surpass 3000 * NY state closes all school. * CDC recommends no groups of >50 for next 8 weeks. * March 16: * President says to avoid groups >10 and avoid going to restaurants * President says to stop discretionary travel * March 20: NY declared epicenter of crisis with >5000 cases in city * March 21: NJ (EWR) gov issues stay-at-home order * March 23: WA gov issues stay-at-home order. * March 23 flight cancelled. * March 24, >50k cases and 637 deaths in US * March 23 & 24 ASA008 (same flight as mine) was cancelled. * March 24: White House warns people who have been to NY to quarantine themselves. >25k cases. * I finally cancelled on 24th But Alaska Airlines still insist on only credit! Insurance I purchased from Alianz Travel was useless (read Consumer Reports, next time).

Jet Blue only offers credits By the time it is safe to travel. I may not be able to, due to age and health. The tickets were none refundable at time of purchase. The consumer loses again.

What if someone used a travel agent? Do you recommend going back to the travel agency or to the hotel / airline / cruise line directly? I know several people who used a travel agent and they were able to help them when the airline wasn't even answering the phone. Someone else booked directly with an online site and when they couldn't reach anyone there, they randomly called up a travel agent who actually helped them even though the agent is not the one who had booked their trip in the first place. So, I suggest if someone try asking a travel agent if they are at a lost as what to do or not finding the answers they need.

My husband and I booked a cruise on Carnival Cruise Lines for Sept. We were to depart out of Seattle, then Covid19 showed up and we cancelled our trip. We had already paid the trip in full plus money for the 2 excursions. We did purchase the travel insurance. We asked for a refund and they said we were going to be penalized almost $500.00 for canceling. We still have not received our refund or money back for the excursions. What do we do now? Just keep on waiting? It has been almost 2 months since we canceled.

Call them directly! We thought we had the same problem but were fully reimbursed. It took nearly 2 months because of the amount of cancellations! Good luck!

We are in the same situation with Expedia since cancelling our trip. Have you made any progress in compensation? Apparently pandemic isn't covered in travel insurance.

I would be concerned with getting a refund/credit than becoming upset that travel plans have been overturned. There's always tomorrow to take a trip. Keep yourself posted via the site you booked and paid through.

Had to cancel two trips on physicians orders (age & medical history). Also complied with CDC Guidelines for those conditions and Whitehouse COVD Task Force. Southwest, Hertz and hotel refunded costs. Only one refusing to refund was Allegiant Airlines who gave me Travel Voucher because it is their "Policy" as I purchased a non-refundable ticket. Well the same applied at Southwest but they did the right thing and refunded. What if I am not able to use and what if I did travel in future and it needed to be a location Allegiant does not serve? Allegiant asking for "Bailout" money but may end up keeping my money plus bailout. What a company!!!

Allegiant Airlines is the worst. They need to be shut down anyway. They canceled our flight last summer and their only other option was to stay 3 more days and take the same flight home. It was ridiculous. Refused to pay any of our extra expenses and we had to get home bc school started that Monday.

You sure opened a can of worms! I had a ticket as non refundable. I get that if I want to change or anything else. But when they aren't flying and don't deliver the service, how can they refuse my refund? This is happening to me. I could have showed up at the airport and the flight wasn't flying but they won't give me a refund because its non refundable. United Airlines at its very best. FTC...we need you!!!

Same! They tell me they extended the use of credit to 2 years. Due to financial issues I would like all my money back to use on bills not just sitting for future use.

I am in the same boat. Used a travel agency and Lynott tours. We have rescheduled twice since feb of last year. Enough is enough and they are only offering a full credit voucher until 2022. This was a 2 week European trip paid in full. $17k in total!

Go to the US Department of Transportation web site and search for “cancelled flight.” You will find that if the airline canceled the flight it is required to give you a FULL refund.

Hoping that the parents who paid out almost $1000 for 5th grade safety patrol trip to Washington DC will get some kind of refund even with purchasing the insurance. Still waiting to hear from the school. :(

Airlines - you are writing about refund. In my understanding is refund getting money back. No one US airline is giving refund. All only credits, what for foreign travelers unacceptable. How to proceed? Thank you

EF Tours is keeping $ for trips that they cancelled due to Covid19. Depending on the time of travel, patrons are losing at least 500-1000$ for a service that was never provided. Please help us get full refunds. Thank you.

You can report a problem with a business at www.FTC.gov/Complaint. The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

The comments you put here on the blog don't go into the law enforcement database.

Natural Exposures also kept 13K of my money for a trip that was cancelled 2 days before I was to leave. They made a profit and refused to refund anything. It was cancelled due to covid'19. Four other companies that I also had trips booked with have completely refunded all money as have airlines. Please help me get a refund….

EF Go Ahead Tours is doing the same thing to me. They want to keep 50% of my trip cost ($1000 "penalty fee" + $376 insurance fee) !! I have filed a complaint with the BBB, FTC and the Massachusetts Attorney General! Is there anything else we can do to get our money back that they are stealing?

Did you ever get anything settled with EF? We have $6,000 that they will only offer a voucher.

I have a call with Go Ahead today regarding my trip to Spain that is cancelled. I have already paid $3,000 and I know they will fight me. Have you had any luck getting your refund yet?

We had flights with both Frontier and Spirit airlines. Spirit flight was supposed to be 3/25/20 & Frontier flight was 4/3/20. All traveling states involved had Executive Stay at Home Orders on the dates of travel. Both Frontier and Spirit have refused the numerous requests for refunds---saying flights are nonrefundable. Both flights were purchased prior to the pandemic. Neither airline will deny that they are receiving Federal funding but yet neither will refund us, the taxpaying consumer. So we follow the laws by not flying & the airlines get to keep our money and receive Federal bailout money on top of it all. SMH

Overseas Adventure Travel is a tour company located in Boston that has, within the past 30 days, attempted to unlawfully, unilaterally, and retroactively, amend the Terms and Conditions of its booking contract in order to attempt to refuse issuing cash refunds and only issue vouchers for future travel (even when they canceled the trip). They are hiding behind a "no class action" provision and think that prevents any single person from effective action against them. Hence, FTC help is needed.

You can report a problem with a business at www.FTC.gov/Complaint. The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

The comments you put here on the blog don't go into the law enforcement database.

How does this rule impact the agencies that sell airline tickets. I purchased four international airline tickets (Air France) from Capital One travel. Now, I have called both Air France and Capital One. Air France folks are really nice and are willing to issue full refund but they asked me to call my agency (Capital One). I have called Capital One numerous times and is put on hold for 2+ hours before disconnecting my call. This has happened more than 5 times and I have lost 10+ hours just waiting. I need FTC help urgently to crack the whip on agencies like Capital One Travel.

I booked a timeshare for April 2019 that I had to cancel because of Covid 19. I was offered rebooking from July to December 2019. I can't travel within that time frame as advised by my endocrinologist. Since I never got a cancellation policy from the timeshare owner. I was told to sell my week to recover my costs. I didn't sign up for this but I made an effort. 4 people responded but wanted assurance that they would receive a full refund if they needed to cancel. I text messaged the owner and haven't received a response. Im out $1300. This is bad business! I will be exploring my options and not giving up!

My flight got canceled due to COVID 19. The ticket was purchased online via a third party/travel agency. While trying to get a refund for my trip, the travel agency wants me to approve to cancel my ticket and agree to pay them a refund processing fee. Wondering if that is something they can require...?

YMT Vacations is keeping $ for trips that they cancelled due to Covid19. Our group of 6 losing at least $300 each for a service that was never provided. FTC - Please help us get full refunds.
Thank you

Call bank or credit card company. Report the charge as “services not rendered” you’ll get money back ASAP

I booked an AmaWaterways river cruise for July 19. AmaWaterways cancelled the cruise and will refund the payments I had made. But what about the flights? Turkish Airlines is offering a voucher that must be used by early 2021 which won’t work since I have a teaching position and can’t travel at that time. I do have travel insurance ....

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