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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 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

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

Tagged with: coronavirus, travel
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


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.

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.

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.

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!!!

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!!!

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 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.

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 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.

Is it legal for a property management cancel your vacation home rental due to city shutting down all short term rentals in California and keep your booking fee

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