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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

I have a group trip planned to Egypt end of June. The airline already cancelled the flight but the hotels in Egypt won’t refund only reschedule. Any suggestions for a good time to travel? September or try for next year?

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

Hi, I was wondering if you ever received your money back. I rented a place and had to cancel a year ago. I have fought tooth and nail. Owner will not refund, was rude, finally offered reschedule within 6 month time frame. However that didn’t work out. My employer would t grant me vacation time during a pandemic. VRBO was no help, neither was the credit card company. . I am out $3000. I fee taken advantage of.

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.

I'm having the same problem - a fully paid yoga retreat at Hyatt Ziva Resort arranged through Blissed Yoga was 'postponed' from May to August then cancelled - no refund, only a credit for a trip next year (maybe). FTC please, please help!

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

Have you had any luck getting a refund? Hotels.com will not refund me $4000 for a canceled trip to Playa Del Carmen in April. The resort was closed and travel was banned but they are saying my reservation said no refunds. I don’t know how they can stand by that when travel being banned was totally out of everyone’s hands. I have literally spent 50+ hours on the phone with them, the hotel and my credit card company and everyone is giving me the run around saying it’s the other party who has to refund me. Even Southwest Airlines only gave me a credit. This has been an absolute nightmare especially at a time when I lost my job due to the virus! I need help and don’t know who to turn to! If anyone has advice please reach out to me!

Contact your State Attorney General’s office or tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Arranged for flt to NY for friends funeral 600$ on Frontier 6/23 on 6/24 Cuomo (NYS Governor) imposed quarantine restrictions that would force us to miss the funeral and worse miss our flt out of NY on the 6/28. Called Frontier. They were quick to cancel the flight and charge 220$ and credit 380$. But since we wont be able to use that credit Frontier will keep it after 90 days. This is fundamentally wrong.

My travel agency with European headquarters wants 30 euros per ticket to help refund my japan airline ticket. Is that legal? Why I can’t directly refund it with airline?

Before the Coronavirus outbreak, I booked a vacation for July 12-18 for over $2400 (and paid for it in full) using booking.com for a resort owned by Schulstadt Rentals in Panama City Beach FL. Neither Booking.com or Schulstadt Rentals will give me a refund in light of COVID-19. Furthermore, I am an ICU RN who works in a critical access area and a major trauma center and cannot take off of work due to Coronavirus Outbreak staffing/increased patients. Please help me. $2400 is a lot of money for us and we deserve a refund...

Contact your credit card company! They refunded my full amount!

My husband and two of my children are positive. We are needing to cancel our trip and due to financial reason I would like a full refund for my flights. Is it up to the airlines to override their policy in these unfortunate circumstances?

my daughters trip to paris was cancelled first due to covid then due to poor actions of the tour guide/teacher who has been relieved of her duties on the trip, and now the tour company will refund cash less $500. or a voucher for a full refund...this was a school trip...how do I go about getting all my monies?

My flight isn't cancelled and my country CYPRUS has airport open but i dont want to travel since Budapest has many covid infections still. What can i do

I canx above flight sch for 3/20/20 due to the COVID19 situation, we are both over 65 and one of us have a underlying health condition, at the time Spirit would only issue a reservation credit, with restrictions that the flight be rescheduled by 9/19/20 and the flight has to be sch by 3/19/21. Due to the currently Covid 19 situation I do not plan on making any plans during this timeframe. I have been trying to obtain a refund to my credit card from Spirit. I have had back and forth communication via email with them, they asked for a note/recommendation from my DR that I not fly, which she provided and I submitted to Spirit via email, along with insurance information that I purchased. I still have not heard back from them. SO frustrated.

I have an upcoming trip to Tennessee on July 9th staying with Natural Retreats booked via Vrbo. Our States government announced quarantine order for traveling to Tennessee on July 2nd. I requested to cancel my trip and a refund/credit on July 2nd via email and 3rd with a phone call. I have not received a response to my email. They refused my refund / credit over the phone communication. According to them, I can still cancel my stay but they will not issue me any credit or refund. Can I ask if they have the right to do that? We are canceling the trip because the newly imposed quarantine order by our home States.

We booked a trip for 4 adults to Ireland for June. We were notified that the trip was cancelled and all monies paid would be offered as a credit for future travel until 12/31/2022. We then found that the travel agent linked our air travel and additional hotel stay with the vendor and are unable to get the additional parts refunded as the flights were never ticketed and held by the company as a hold agreement with the airlines and hotel. Totally not acceptable. What recourse do we have. We know that most of the planned air travel flights were cancelled but because the flights were never "ticketed" we are left to the mercy of the agent.

We booked a house as we have been for the last 15 years in Surfside Beach, SC, in January. When Covid rolled around we questioned the company about insurance and what would/wouldn’t be cover. Told specifically that the pandemic wasn’t covered and to just wait it out instead of canceling. Our state and our jobs wee requiring us to quarantine upon return because SC is a hot spot. We’d have to use an additional two weeks of vacation time to go. They would not refund, understandably, but also wouldn’t let us change our reservation dates or provide a medical grade cleaning that other houses and reality’s we’re providing free of charge. We had to pay additionally for that service and we have people with medical conditions coming with us. We did cancel with the hopes the house would rebook in which we’d receive an 80% refund And they’d “push the rental” but The problem is people are canceling for the same exact reasons. Their response to all of this is “we’re sorry but our governor gave us the green light for business as usual”.

My husband and I booked a trip to Crete then on to Italy. We bought travel insurance. We were to leave May 30th but couldnt go do to Covid 19. Our travel agency says our tickets do not qualify for a refund or credit. The trip was 2700.00. They get to just keep that? Legally?!!??? That doesnt seem right!

Trying to get a refund for round trip Flights from CT to SC and back. A 2 week quarantine upon return now exists and I do not want a flight credit, Is there any statements from the DOT on the quarantines and requestInfo airlines for a refund. I work and can not quarantine....

Where can I file a complaint about a riverboat cruise on the Columbia and Snake Rivers? American Cruise Line changed the dates, forcing us to cancel flights. We could not get new flights, so we could not go on the cruise. (The cruise was cancelled later anyway by the governor.) They will only offer us a voucher but we want our money back.

We had all kinds of travel plans, all gone with the wind.....Florida, Laughlin, NV. Maybe even Hawaii, or possibly a cruise. Oh, well.................

We had combo train/cruise trip booked with Rocky Mountaineer if Vancouver BC. The company cancelled due to COVID 19 but is refusing monetary refunds only future travel credit. Although the entire trip was booked through Rocky Mountainer, Holland America independantly stepped up and gave us the equivalent cash refund.
Recently Rocky Mountaineer said they have reversed position and will offer refunds to travelers from UK. We are U.S. citizens
Shouldnt we be entitled to the same refund policy??

The national pandemic has changed the rules for refund policies. Both travelers and agencies should be protected and a refund compromise between them should be reached to not hurt either.
Standard policies should reflect the unexpected consequences of Covid to resolve issues equitably. Travelers should not be penalized for changing plans and acting responsibly.

I had a very expensive guided fishing trip planned as my retirement takeoff into like trips. I never cancelled but they did after everyone else cancelled their trips. Don’t they legally owe a refund since they cancelled? I get a 2 year credit but I’m not so sure that will pan out. More so, it doesn’t seem right that they get to keep a larg sum of money for nothing in (timely) consideration.

My wife and I had made plans to Canada last November. It flight was not cancelled even though Americans are not allowed in Canada right now. The airline is refusing to provide a refund. What is the real situation we are looking at?

Thank you

we payed in full for a private excursion in February. 2020, before the Covid 19 pandemic. All Cruises are canceled for Sept 2020, and Ketchikan Adventure Tours refuses to refund anything, and now completely ghosting any texts or emails. They did have a no refund policy on the receipt, only after you pay, are you made aware of this. Buyer beware..

Hotel LaCroix in Honolulu gave us verbal confirmation, both to myself and a representative from Expedia who was on the line. Expedia has this recorded in their logs.

Hotel LaCroix in Honolulu is now saying they will not provide a refund and refusing to refund my payment.

cie tours cancelled our scotland trip.we had made a $2,429.00 deposit, which included a payment of $598.00 for travel insurance.
cie will only give us a $1,000.00 future travel credit, and no refund. this is quite a financial loss to us. when questioned, they said that was all their insurance would do. i really hate to re-book with them when we have already been denied the rest of our deposit. it feels like it would be throwing good money after bad. is there help for this.

I booked a trip with a travel company to South Africa- they have cancelled twice and refused to issue a refund. The tour includes, hotels, tours and food. They are stating that they didn't actually cancel, we are just not aloud into the country. That seems like the cancelled to me. What are my rights?

How about Travel funds? I have travel funds with a major airliner. The fund will expire on 09/08/2020 and since it comes a day after their extension policy, I don’t get the extension. The company offered extension for those who has funds that expires between Mar and Sep 7th 2020. I feel it’s unfair to just include these 6 months and not apply the policy across the board. ie, extending all travel funds.

I tried reaching out to their customer service but faced an aggressive response.

Please have airlines extend travel funds for up to a year or until we get a chance to use them since most airplanes are grounded.

please refund us our money for our cancelled trip, we do not need vouchers. the current covid situation is unknown, so how can the airline say to get a voucher and use it before the end of the year?????so unfair!!!!!!!

In January 2020, booked (non-refundable rate) hotel in the Principality of Monaco for August 2020. The European Union has banned travel from the United States. The hotel is open to service only those permitted into the European Union (EU). Although the hotel is unable to service individuals from the U.S. (as a result of EU-imposed travel ban), the hotel refuses to offer a refund but will grant a voucher to be used within 1 year. Is there any way to get a refund? Credit card dispute was unsuccessful.

Looking for a ".gov" website showing that there was no travel from USA to Europe (London, Amsterdam, Paris) allowed from May-June in order to provide documentation to AirBnB to get fully refunded for our trip. Having a hard time locating a clear government documentation since it was in the past.

I booked my tickets through a travel agency in California. They want to charge me a $50.00 admin fee if I request a refund, is that legally?

The airline refunded the ticket but the travel agency, ASAP Travel Services has not refunded my ticket since March.

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