You are here

COVID-19 ruined my travel plans. Now what?

Share this page

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.

Tagged with: coronavirus, travel
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'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

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

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.

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.

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?

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

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 ....

I booked a trip thru a travel company and airline separately. I was able to get refunds from both, but not the full refund. The travel company gave me 75% of trip and told me to file a claim thru my travel insurance, which I did. I was denied payment from the travel insurance company because the fact that the trip was cancelled by the travel company due to COVID19 restrictions isn't one of the 9 reasons for reimbursement. If I would of claimed that I was sick, or was in an accident on my way to the airport the claim would of been reimbursed, but there is no provision in the federal insurance policies that these companies follow for when the travel company cancels or for any pandemic. If it wasn't for the cancellation and countries being closed to travelers, I would of gone on the trip. Now I am out a good chunk of change. The airline booking company reimbursed a little under 1/2 of what I paid on the ticket. How do I get the remaining monies reimbursement, for it isn't a small amount it's around 5000. I see in all of the fed assistance it's all paid to the companies to help them survive, but it's not coming down to the consumer how is really hit by the loss incurred.

Airlines: According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, airlines MUST (emphasis added) 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.

However, it also states: "In the United States, airlines are NOT (emphasis added) required to compensate passengers when flights are delayed or cancelled."

It can't be both ways. Please clarify.

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

I’m with you Helen. We booked with VRBO and the owner originally said they would reschedule our vacation and now they won’t even respond to our emails and are telling VRBo we are harassing them. They kept $4500. I need to know my rights

United Airlines confirmed to me that they issued refunds directly to the travel agency for the two flight upgrades to Europe that my mom purchased through the travel agency and were ticket through United Airlines. The travel agency initially says the flights are not refundable and so my mom is not entitled to any refund. When I enquired with more information, they now say they booked through a consolidator and that the consolidator is "making an exception but holding back $500 per ticket for the canceled flights". Given United was able to tell me the name of the company that the refunds were issued to - which is the travel agency (not a another party) - I do not believe there was a consolidator at play here (i.e., the travel agency IS the consolidator in this case). Regardless...the law says that if the airline cancels the flight, they must offer a refund to the ticketed passengers. In this case, the travel agency requested and received the funds and will not return them in full. This is beyond the $500 per person non-refundable deposit that they have already held back for the tour/accomodation portion of the trip as per the travel contract. FTC please provide guidance on how to manage travel agencies who are taking advantage of travelers by taking their non-refundable deposits and then also holding back airfare refunds for canceled flights.

I made out of state vacation reservations and a car rental based on my flight day and time. I am on a tight schedule to pick up my car rental and check into my hotel at specific times (2-hour drive from airport to hotel). I received an email from Southwest Airlines that my Flight was canceled (both to and from destination) and I was moved to a later outbound flight - causing me to miss my car rental time window and earlier return flight causing me to miss my return flight. I received an email stating that I had to call within 3 days of the notification or I couldn't cancel/change my flight w/o penalty. Did not receive a phone call or text message, so I missed the window of opportunity.
In addition, my original Hotel reservations have been changed two times now because of the lockdown and now I'm told that if I elect change my reservations again I will have to pay a penalty.
How do I get a refund on my Plain Ticket, Hotel and Car Rental?

On Christmas day, my niece and I booked our trip to Paris for my birthday and Mother's day weekend through a travel site. For 2 months i have been trying to get a refund for this trip that cost over $2000. The airline offered a voucher but I want a refund. We are not promised tomorrow and if anything happens to us the money is wasted and they've done nothing to earn it. The hotel wants to keep nearly $900 for doing nothing. They promise me a response in 5 days and it's been 30 days. What's worse is that now my niece has lost her job in airline transportation and we really need it.

Booked a cruise in late October for May 2020. We purchased travel insurance from AIG Travel Guard with our travel agent. The cruise was cancelled, not by us, but by the cruise line. Now AIG Travel Guard will not issue a refund for the insurance. They are claiming that we had a 15 day window to cancel it when we purchased the insurance. They are offering a 2 year voucher assuming we will take a trip during that time. We do not believe we will and they will pocket our money. I do not know how they can not refund funds for a service they didn't provide.

We were supposed to go to Florida on 4/21. Schools cancelled because of Covid and a stay at home order was issued. We cancelled our Frontier Airlines tickets $4500 for 6 people. Frontier will only give us vouchers to use by next March and need to book by June 12. This is ridiculous. We don’t want to travel until it is safe.. and who knows what situation will be next spring. We Understand they got Covid bailout money. We want our money back, not vouchers. Any ideas?

Trying to get Refund vs Voucher from Travel Insured International, Inc.
We purchased it via Online Vacation Center to cover the airfare and Royal Caribbean cruise for our trip to Hawaii in September 2020.
Prior to that – we never bought travel Insurance.
Our Online Vacation Center agent asked the question – do you want Insurance –and because we are in our 70th – we decided to say yes.
It is really hard to comprehend why Travel Insurance International, that did not spend any time with us, did not provide Any service to us – can keep Our money and put conditions for us to use it. ( Voucher vs Refund)

I believe there are a lot of people in our situation. In all likelihood this and other Insurance companies will keep Our Money if we do not voice our concerns. Please let us know where to go for Help.

Thanks

What if you bought tickets through a travel agency and they want to charge a cancellation fee?

I have used travel agent to book my tickets. Airlines is offering full refund but travel agent is charging $300 mentioning that its the consolidator fee which they cannot avoid. Anyone in this situation? wondering if its legally allowed that they can charge the amount? Looking to get back my money.

I purchased 2 round-trip tickets from JustFly.com to Japan earlier this year to go to the Olympics. I paid $3,476.66 for 2 tickets, including taxes and agency fees of $115.33. We would have used ANA from Chicago to Tokyo, and UA coming back from Tokyo to Chicago. The event was subsequently cancelled, and both All Nippon Airways and United Airlines are offering full refunds, with no fees. I contacted both airlines and they confirmed that my tickets qualify for refunds. Their policies are published on their websites. Based on the e-ticket numbers, times when I purchased tickets, and the timing of our flight schedules, our tickets meet the criteria per ANA's website.
JustFly is still saying that my tickets do not meet the criteria and the airlines are not allowing them to refunds. I have contacted JustFly several times, but they have not refunded me.

I, along with 5 other families, booked an all inclusive trip through Costa Rica Experts out of Chicago, IL and spent approximately $15,000 up front. One friend who didn't go through this travel agent has recouped all her money from tours we were booked on as well so we know refunds are being issued from guides. The only option this agent is giving us is to book a trip in July 2020 amid a second wave of the virus and border restrictions (as per the CR Embassy and local newspapers). This travel is agent is aware of the business restrictions, mandatory quarantine, and no tours operating. Is this even legal and ethical to sell a package that cannot be used in full? Do we have any recourse?

Please hold travel agencies to this same standard. I booked a trip through an agency: they just told me that the trip is cancelled and that the airlines, hotels, and train lines have waived all fees and given a full refund. However, the travel agency won't give a refund - they are giving a credit toward future travel within the next two years. This would be great in normal times - but why should the travel agency get to hold several thousand of my dollars for two years?? I want my money back. In these uncertain times, I could use that cash more than I can use credit for a future vacation. The FTC may need to step in and instruct travel agencies to give full refunds.

Does anyone know the rules surrounding conferences/convention cancellations? We had a major event cancelled and are out $30k.....

Pages

Leave a Comment