Peter Answers Your Emails: Round 1 — March 2020
Thanks to all of you who have written me with your travel questions and problems. I will continue answering them in rounds.
EMAIL: Karen L Rutter
I enjoyed hearing your presentation at the Travel and Adventure Show in Atlanta, Georgia. You mentioned that one of the places you loved was the island of St. Helena off the coast of South Africa. I will be traveling to South Africa in April and thought I’d give it a look. Can you suggest places to stay, eat and enjoy? i’d never even given it a thought until you brought it up. You also mentioned Madagascar. Any thoughts you can share on that island as well? If you had time for only one island….which would you choose to visit?
Karen L Rutter
Peter Says: There are only about four or five hotels in St. Helena, and they are small — less than 30 rooms each. Don’t expect luxury accommodations. But they all function for the basics. Also, don’t expect fast, or reliable internet, or cell phone. connections, and you will need to pay for it. It can be expensive, so do all your emails offline, then go online and send/receive at once.
EMAIL: Judy Greenstein
Thank you for that excellent video on the travel industry today.
Last week I cancelled a ticket on Alaska Airline San Fran/NY on line and within seconds they issued a voucher for the entire amount, which impressed me. A few days later they also cancelled that flight. Do you think based on this I should be able to get a refund instead of a voucher. The main reason I would want to do this is, after watching your video, Alaska Airlines, which is a small airline, might not be in business after all the dust settles.
Peter Says: Under the new USDOT directive you should contact Alaska again. You are entitled to a refund if you want it. But, Alaska is actually a pretty strong airline with a reasonable balance sheet and a market that it dominates. I would expect them to stay in business.
EMAIL: Marion Froehlich, San Diego, California
I met you at the San Diego travel show a couple years ago and subscribed to your email list.
Thank you for being willing to take questions from your subscribers.
Here is my situation: I booked a trip through Intrepid Travel to the Baltic states. I do not plan to take this trip even though I’m only scheduled to depart on June 5th. I have to make a decision by April 18th in order not to lose any money with Intrepid Travel. If I cancel after that they have different refund policies depending on how late you cancel prior to departure and even though they offer to rebook you on another trip of theirs within a certain amount of time. I do not wish to take advantage of what is probably a nice offer. I rather start all over looking a new trip with whether it be them or somebody else or even traveling on my own which is what I usually do.
I’m actually not so concerned about the Intrepid Travel tour but I wanted to give you the background.
My main concern is all the money I have spent on flights, primarily with United Airlines. I know you said to wait to cancel flights until closer to departure to see if their refund or transfer policy will be even more lenient. There is also something in the emails I have received from them, although not recently about the timing of the reservations I made. If I remember correctly, any booking made starting March 6th has a more lenient policy if it’s canceled. I made some reservations before March 6 and some after.
I also paid about $450 for travel insurance with Allianz.
Lastly, I made one hotel reservation on my own, separate from the Baltic states tour, and mistakenly tapped on the non-refundable room reservation. I noticed it immediately and email them to see if I could get my money back but they said no. I did this through booking.com.
- Is there any advice you can give me regarding the airlines other than waiting till closer to departure to see if their policies are more flexible?
Peter Says: April 18th is fast approaching and I would not expect this trip to happen. Under the new USDOT directive (but an older USDOT rule) you are entitled to a refund if United cancels the flight.
- Have I lost my money with Allianz?
Peter Says: The problem with most travel insurance, which wasn’t volunteered directly to you when you bought the policy but is included somewhere in the insurance policy language, Allianz does not cover you in the event of a pandemic.
- do you think I can get my money back from booking.com or the hotel directly?
Peter Says: I’d start with the hotel but remember your credit card rights, since you bought a good or service which you did not receive.
I look forward to your response at your convenience.
San Diego, California
EMAIL: Marissa Suarez
I hope this email finds you well. What a crazy time for travel industry.
As you are probably already aware but Miami Beach has closed all hotels as of this Monday.
Prior to this closure, Airbnb was refunding guests in full and basically destroying the homeowners livelihood.
Just curious what is your take on this. I for one have been impacted and do not agree with their structure. I definitely would have given a credit good for 1 year.
Take care and be safe,
Peter Says: Marissa, I must disagree with you. If Miami has closed all hotels, that means AirBnbs as well. You must act in good faith here and refund that money. I also understand AirBnb has created a $250 million fund to help. Their hosts and I would presume they have already been in touch with you on this. I understand your pain, but the bottom line is that you were paid for a service you could not provide. In this case, it’s not your guests who should be trying to help you, but Airbnb.
EMAIL: Giedra Aguilar, Northbrook IL
I love your show on WGN.
We supposed to fly to the EU mid-June with SAS airlines. My question is, when, in your opinion, we should contact airlines about canceling our trip? And do you have any tips about asking for full refund instead of getting a credit?
Thank you much! Stay safe!
Peter Says: This is, sadly, a game of chicken in which you should play //not// to blink. Wait for SAS to cancel your flight. Right now, the entire SAS fleet is grounded, and may stay grounded through June. Under that scenario, and also under both European Union rules and the USDOT rules (which apply to flights that either leave. from or return to the U.S.) you are entitled to a full refund, But only after SAS cancels, not before. So…my advice is to wait.
EMAIL: Raymond Moskovitz
We booked a RT premium fare for $3500, Norwegian Air to Paris for mid April (back in Dec). They just cancelled flights last Sat and offered a full refund. I filled out their forms online immediately and requested a full refund which they offered. I called yesterday for the 2nd time and they said that it would take 2-3 weeks to credit my Visa card but that I would get the refund. My concern is that they go bankrupt before that and that they are just stalling. Is there anything else I can do now without waiting ?
Peter Says: Norwegian just got a huge cash infusion/bailout from the Norwegian government. You should be fine.
MAIL: Pat Heinlen
We have a cruise on Seinne scheduled to depart May 24 on Grand Circle Line. They have officially cancelled all cruises only through End of April. They have given people option of rescheduling but not cancelling a May trip.
I don’t want to rebook at this point. Am I right in thinking if they cancelled, I will get my insurance deposit returned as well as the cost of the trip. What do you advise? Should I wait until they cancel the trip?
Peter Says: Yes you should wait.
EMAIL: Joanne Karyl Reynolds
I booked two trips way in advance through Expedia to go to Syracuse, NY from Charlottesville, VA and for my husband and myself to go to Seattle, WA from Charlottesville. Since everyone has been asked not to travel unless in an emergency, I have decided not to go on these trips. I’ve tried repeatedly to get in contact with Expedia and have filled out their forms but haven’t received a response. Since I didn’t book directly with American or United, I can’t appeal to them. I don’t want or expect a refund. I would like a credit or voucher for future travel. It seems they would want customer loyalty and the corona virus has put us all in an untenable position. I just watched one of you broadcasts and you asked people to send you an email. I don’t know what will happen but I expect to lose about $1,000 if not reimbursed. Anyway, it feels better to have someone listen!
Joanne Karyl Reynolds
Peter Says: You haven’t told me when your trip is. Having that information would help.
EMAIL: Joy Lawerence
As a travel advisor for more than 35 years, I have been acquainted with you through the media – and truly appreciate your great advocacy for the industry. The video you posted today was spot-on, and I, for one, will be sharing those amazing facts with several of my networking groups.
My husband came up with some questions – which you may already be preparing to address:
- Now with so many folks working from home, will the traditional business model go back to “normal”? And if not…what kind of impact will this have on the industry (rhetorical question, I know).
Peter Says: My guess is we’re about to see some big, if not fundamental changes in the way we work, and where we work. in some industries (not all), we may begin to see a complete change in work rules, allowing more work at home employees, or a staggered four day a week schedule in some cases.
- With all the 737Max planes grounded now…and airlines cutting back and consolidating – what happens to them….and Boeing??
Peter Says: The 737 max will eventually be re-certified and fly. But orders for new 737-MAXs are essentially moribund for the moment, and so Boeing’s order book has shrunk, as has its future revenue. And with many airlines (mostly overseas) either shrinking their fleets or ceasing service, the used plane market for relatively new aircraft will explode. What that means is that any airline still considering expanding its fleet won’t have to wait three years to order and receive a new plane from Boeing or airbus, but can easily obtain a relatively new plane on the second hand market quickly. Result: even fewer orders for either manufacturer as for Boeing, what will save it are the remaining lucrative military contracts from the U.S. and other allied countries.
- If pilots are also grounded for an extended period of time, will they have to re-certify?
Peter Says: Pilots have to re-certify under normal schedules and considering airlines were confronting a growing pilot shortage prior to the coronavirus. And as the airlines will most likely shrink their schedules and routes coming out of the virus crisis, that pilot shortage situation will disappear in the short term
Thanks again for your work. I look forward to hearing more news from you.
EMAIL: Debbie Delgiudice
My husband & I booked a river cruise through Scenic departing June 15th. Our options are to reschedule for next year w/o any fees or play a game of chicken-if they cancel June cruises we can opt for a full refund or reschedule
At this time our first choice is a refund. It is impossible to get through by phone, can you tell me if they have cancelled cruises as far out as June 15th
We have waited years for this “trip of a lifetime” but I’m not sure if we will ever want to cruise after this crisis
Peter Says: Again, this is a game of chicken in which I advise you not to blink. You are not alone in your dilemma. Please, wait for the cruise line to cancel first. They will more than likely make this decision a month out…so roughly May 15th. You can make your decision then.
EMAIL: Kris Zaleski, Braidwood Illinois.
I listened to your show Saturday. You mentioned contacting you if there were refund issues with Disney. I am a Vacation Club member so I will receive my resort points back to my account.
As of now, Disney wants us to reschedule to use our park tickets by December 15th of this year. I do not think Disney should require us to use our ticket credit. There are 2 couples with 3 separate personal calendars.
I believe they should refund our park ticket expenses.
My husband and I had a Disney trip in September 2017 when the hurricanes hit Florida. We were totally refunded.
Thank you for your comments or assistance.
Peter Says: Disney has been taking a relatively hard line on refunds, banking on the customer loyalty and repeat business that fuels so much of their revenue. But in this case, there’s a good chance that Disney will soon change their policy and offer full refunds. This is a waiting game…so, for the moment, be patient, but be persistent, and I will update you as well.
EMAIL: Bill Annandono, Cleveland, Ohio
Hello Pete I hope you are well.
I have a May 4 flight to Las Vegas on United. I used airline miles. I called UA yesterday
and they told me if I canceled, it would cost me $75.
Is that right? What should I do?
Peter Says: Bill, United finally changed their rules and will not charge you $75 to redeposit your miles, so please contact them
EMAIL: Linda Torklep
I am a MVP on Alaska Airlines. I saw your program this morning. I had a round trip booked to fly SEA to ORD March 7 – 17. The day before I was to fly there were warnings no unnecessary flights were to be flown. I had to cancel it. I had booked it before this all started. They offered to put the $304. Cost of the flight in my wallet to be used at a later date. The understanding is there would be $125. exchange fee to be able to use. My daughter works for the Coast Guard. Armed forces and their families are ordered not to fly. Hope you can show me how to avoid this future charge. Thank you for your help.
Peter Says: Linda you’re in luck. Under a U.S. Department of Transportation announcement over the weekend, Alaska can now offer you a full refund — and not stick you with a voucher or charge a change fee. So please contact them.
EMAIL: Lorraine McLaughlin
Hi Peter, my name is Lorraine got your email and watched the video you did on Friday , I have concerns on travel so I came home to Northern Ireland on January 29 as my dad was very ill he has since passed away on February 3 I was due to fly back to California on February 20 but took flu/ chest infection which I recovered from two weeks later only to have a relapse last Sunday March 15 I want to get back to my family soon but have concerns on traveling I can still get flight from Dublin Ireland to San Francisco but my question to you is would it be wise of me to flying right now or just wait out this virus and stay here a while longer.
Peter Says: Lorraine, at this point I would stay where you are. But in any event, you will probably not be flying before the end of May, given current airline schedules.
EMAIL: Mary Jo Thomson
I watched your report with great interest.
Here is my situation.
Last December 17, 2019 I purchased 2 Business Class tickets (husband and I) and one coach ticket (for a friend traveling with us) DFW to Budapest returning from Vienna. When booked I was told I could change them with a change fee. Don’t remember any limitations, there could have been.
These tickets are for May 13-June 2, 2020.
I understand to wait until (now read 72 hours) before the trip dates to call AA.
Is there a chance I can change the BC tickets to a RT to Athens in Sept 2021?
Since I paid for the coach ticket for our friend, who gets the credit to rebook another flight? If I get it, based on price, can I rebook it for 2 domestic round trips.
Something tells me not to try to do this online, since Sept 2021 is outside what AA is saying online, and Sept 2021 is beyond when you can book online.
Your opinion and knowledge will be appreciated.
Mary Jo Thomson
Peter Says: Mary Jo, under no circumstances should you attempt this online. It won’t work. The best thing for you to do is wait for American to cancel the flight (which they probably will) in about two weeks. Then seek a full refund. Then rebook next year for your September 2021 flight.
EMAIL: Frank Marino, Falls Church, VA
Dear Mr. Greenberg:
I understand that for people who lose their jobs, livelihood and homes, a concern over losing close to $15,000.00 we paid for flight to Iceland, a cruise around Iceland and then a side-trip to Amsterdam at the end of August 2020 may seem petty and insignificant. And, I do understand that some businesses do need financial assistance to stabilize employment.
Contracts with many cruise planners, cruise companies and airlines provide little or ineffective remedies for situations regarded as an “Act of God” or outside of their control which results in cancellation of the trip – whether by the carrier or by the customer due to health concerns.
However, if our tax dollars will be employed to assist these industries, should not the assistance packages include some mandates (akin to not allowing executive bonuses or stock buy backs in the financial industry during and after the 2008 financial crises and bailout).
I would love to know your thoughts.
Peter Says: Frank, I hear you….and you are not alone. The airlines are now required to give you a full refund. As for the cruise planning company, more and more travel providers are discovering that the overwhelming public response to their refusing to issue full refunds will backfire on them — remember, a huge part of the travel transaction is based on trust and consumer confidence…and since your trip doesn’t officially depart until August,you have time to continue to fight this directly with them before taking it to the next level. So the best advice now is not to accept any offer of a future cruise or a voucher… wait.
email: Susmit Desai
Appreciate your show, and all that you are doing for us.
Just thinking, since many airlines have grounded their planes, this would be a perfect time to get maintenance started on all of them?
You don’t need to answer me. i will look for your input your shows.
Peter Says: A parked plane needs constant maintenance anyway, so the airplanes that require normal maintenance will receive it wherever they are parked, and the planes that were due for major overhauls will be scheduled for the hangar. But keep in mind that many airlines will also use this opportunity to retire many of their older planes, like 757 and. 767’s.
EMAIL: Linda Halley
I’ve been a fan of yours for many years. I have a question. We booked and paid for a flight to Nashville in May and a big deposit on a Globus bus trip. We also booked a cruise from Rome on NCL in July. Both were through Vacationstogo.com. We cancelled both a few weeks back.
Are we entitled to a refund of the trip insurance and our deposits? The insurance was quite expensive for the both of us.
Peter Says: Chances are Linda that you should get your deposits back, but the insurance (which probably includes language that excludes coverage for a pandemic) is lost.
EMAIL: Victoria Adams
Dear Mr. Greenberg,
Thank you for your clarity and truthfulness is this trying time. Your video newsletter was great!
Is there a national travel group we can join to advocate for our fellow travelers and taxpayers? Since these companies and their boards manage to pay their executives billions, and got to gouge travelers for fees like change fees and luggage fees they paid no tax on, it seems like the attention of the American Taxpayer and public at large may be able to influence our senators and representatives at last.
Thank you for your caring,
Peter Says: One advocacy group is the Business Travel Coalition.
I was scheduled to fly to Vegas this week on United with a ticket that I bought back in October. I was able to cancel my trip last Friday without a fee for a voucher credit. Do you know under current circumstances, do I need to use this voucher within 1 year to “book” or to “fly”, and is the relevant 1 year period from when I originally booked or from when I was originally supposed to fly? Thanks!
Peter Says: You now also qualify for a full refund under USDOT rules, United should have offered that to you — and they didn’t. They most probably only offered you a voucher. For some frequent travelers, that might make the most sense. But you still have the option for a full refund, so please contact United.
EMAIL: Amanda Leone
I am reaching out today on behalf of myself and 3 travel companions at the advisement of our travel agent Ron Fenska who passed your recent travel update video onto us..
The four of us had a planned trip to Madrid Spain on March 18 through March 26, 2020 via Air Portugal (TAP). For three of us it was 4 total flights Newark NJ to Lisbon.. Lisbon to Madrid… then Barcelona to Lisbon… Lisbon to Newark.. one of us was not traveling on to Barcelona, but that doesn’t take her out of the equation. The following is timeline of events and conversations I had with TAP… which to date we still don’t know where we stand…
3/10/2020 The situation in Spain was rapidly deteriorating and it was advised in Madrid particularly to refrain from all non essential travel.
3/11/2020 We decided as a group we needed to postpone our plans and contacted Mr. Fenska. I got through to TAP and was told because we were more than 21 days out we would have to pay a $300 fee plus any difference in fares… this was the policy. I spoke to a woman named Ines Ferreira not once but twice in the same day.. who told me NOT to cancel right now because if even one of our 4 flights were canceled we were entitled to a full refund. That same evening is when President Trump announced the strict travel restrictions to and from Europe.
Monday March 16 I called TAP again and was told as of the moment our flights were still on however they (TAP) had just received an email that Madrid was officially closing its borders, and Again.. was told don’t do anything yet, because 1 of our flights will “most likely be canceled and we would receive a refund” at this juncture we also decided to cancel all together rather than postpone.
Tuesday March 17 we all received an a notice that our flight to Madrid had been canceled. All of us attempted to get through to the airline for hours.. I finally got through at 11 pm after sitting in a on hold que for well over an hour was told he couldn’t process my refund, I had to go the the TAP website and cancel and request a refund, all he could do was provide me with a travel voucher for future travel. At this point in time with Covid 19 quickly spreading through the US as well as Europe the future seemed too uncertain to take a travel voucher, not to mention I was told on 3 different occasions that we were entitled to a refund.
March 18, the morning of our intended travel date we all did the required cancellation through the website and received a message that said “your refund will be issued through a voucher.”
Today is Monday March 23, 2020 I just checked the website and it says “your request is being reviewed”
We really don’t know where we stand.. it’s impossible to get through via phone and the website is quite vague and clearly we’ve received a lot of mixed messages. Collectively we all feel the same way, we want our refund we were told we were entitled to. Anything you can do to help would be greatly appreciated.
We hope you healthy and safe in your self isolation.
Peter Says: Amanda, under USDOT rules, you are entitled to a full refund of your airfare from TAP. Even though it is a foreign based airline, it operates to and from the U.S. The USDOT essentially reissued this already existing rule as notice to airlines last Friday. So contact TAP again.
EMAIL: Jeff and Sue Morgan, Georgetown, Texas
We saw your video last night of the current situation with airlines, hotels, cruise lines, etc. and you made it very clear the very difficult challenge for everyone in the days ahead. Thanks for providing this information.
You asked us to send an email to you with specifics of how the airlines are charging for flight changes and cancellations. My wife and I have flown many, many miles…especially with American and Southwest. I am a lifetime Platinum member with American Airlines having 2,500,000 miles with them. Even still, there is no consideration to waive any fees even at this membership level.
You will probably get many, many emails and I could give you specifics but in a nutshell, we booked and paid for several flights on American for 2020 (this is our 50th anniversary year and we had planned to take a number of trips to celebrate) but of course, we have had to cancel where we could all of these trips. American Airlines is providing waiver of change of flights, etc. for flights that were booked after March 1.
For the last several years, the airlines have consolidated and have basically done everything possible to maximize their profits. You know all of this of course.
All we are asking is that if the airlines get a large bailout (which makes sense to keep our travel infrastructure intact), that it prevents the airlines from charging cancellation or change of flight fees….very much like Southwest does as a norm. If we have already paid for these fees in the last six months, they should reimburse us for these fees. In fact, the domestic airlines should be forced to have a policy similar to Southwest.
Thanks for the information and we will follow your videos in the days ahead.
Jeff and Sue Morgan
Peter Says: Jeff and Sue, your point is well taken and you are not alone. the U.S. Department of Transportation has now forcefully reminded the airlines of a rule I’ve been talking about for years — that in the event an airline cancels their flight (if you cancel then the rule doesn’t apply), you are entitled to a full refund paid back to your original form of payment. So please contact American again.
EMAIL: Leslie Shaw
Good Day Peter,
I listed to one of your recent podcasts and your analysis of the importance and difference between hotels, airlines and cruises lines.
While I support their being included as that is a major portion of our business, can it be justified based on their flag structure.
I may be wrong, but with the exception of a few lines who sail exclusively on US rivers, none of the ships are registered in the US.
If we are going to bail them out, shouldn’t there be a requirement to be US registered at the time of the funding?
Hopefully we are all back in Vegas for Virtuoso Travel Week. See you then,
Peter Says: Leslie, there currently is no congressional support to financially assist the cruise lines, due in large part to the point you raise.
EMAIL: Stephanie Van Pelt
Hi, Mr. Greenberg.
Thanks for your words of travel wisdom and encouragement. I watched your video, and I do have a question. My mother and I are scheduled to sail on NCL Epic from Miami to Barcelona April 18 on a relocation cruise. We bought the premium travel insurance. We have been sitting tight, waiting for either NCL or the government to cancel the cruise. No word yet.
Here’s my question: if WE do not cancel, but some other THEY cancels, do we get a complete refund, including our insurance premiums? Or do we lose the insurance premium, too because this is some sort of Act of God or unforeseen situation?
Thanks for any help or information you can give us. We really appreciate it. Stay safe!
Stephanie Van Pelt
Peter Says: Stephanie, my understanding is thatNCL has canceled the cruise a few weeks ago. You should be entitled to a full refund. As for the insurance, most policies contain language that excludes coverage for pandemics. So on that one you’re probably out the money.
EMAIL: John and Char Shigemura
Dear Sir, we had made reservations on January 13, 2020 for a flight from Kona Hawaii to Haneda Japan for May 13 return on May 27. Because of the virus, we called Hawaiian to change our reservations on February 22. We changed our flight to October6, 2020. We have incurred a change fee of $306.00 per person for myself and my wife. During my phone call to Hawaiian reservations on February 22, I was told, at first that the reservations could not be changed. I asked for a manager and was put on hold. After having read the rules and regulations that were on my confirmation email to the agent, I was again put on hold. The agent came back and said that only this one time that I would be allowed to change our flight but that we would pay for any fare difference and the change fee which was $300 each. We agreed and changed our trip to October. I now see that Hawaiian is dropping change fees on flights till the end of April. Do we have any chance to recoup any of our change fees? Thank you for any answer that you can provide. Aloha, John and Char Shigemura
Peter Says: Under the USDOT rules, you have always been entitled to a full refund. But many airlines weren’t actually volunteering this to customers. In the meantime, the USDOT has also ruled that if the airline didn’t mention this, then you are not just entitled to a full refund, but a refund of the change fees you paid. Please contact Hawaiian directly.
EMAIL: Dennis and Cathie Noonan
Dear Mr. Greenberg:
Thank you very much for your wise, straight forward information from your Friday video. My wife has been a subscriber to your updates, and I have not. That has changed, and I have just signed up! You have many questions coming your way; therefore, I will try to be as concise as possible. My wife and I are signed up with a tour company with a tour to Italy commencing on May 5. The tour company has “suspended” all tour through April 30. It appears they are doing refunds for these people; however, that is not transparent. For those of us with departures beyond April 30, they are encouraging us to rebook; however, if we do not and cancel, the penalties are tough. I am trying to understand the tour company and their predicament; however, I feel like we are kind of forced into a panic “rebook” or cancel with substantial penalties In regard to another tour company, Rick Steves, it appears Rick is being straight forward. He has announced his tours are “canceled” through April 30, and refunds will be processed via the way deposits have been paid. He is also being up front in hoping you might rebook. We seem to be playing a poker hand with our tour company with a rebook or cancel alternative even though replacement tours for our Italy trip are not on the tour company website. We feel we are at the poker table holding our reservation awaiting a suspension or cancellation. It feels like the tour company has much better poker players! Rick Steves indicates on his website a statement to this effect: by the law, we will process a refund to you in accordance with the manner you booked your tour (I.e., credit card or check) within fourteen days. Are we being smart or dummies in holding our powder waiting for them to cancel or suspend versus our cancel or rebook. I am sorry for being wordy, and if you are not able to respond, I will understand. Kind of a basic question about the law. It appears like our tour company is doing well cash wise with cancellation penalties and rebookings. Cash flow would appear to be relatively good for the tour company at this moment.
Thank you so much and all the best,
Dennis (New subscriber) and Cathie Noonan (A wise already subscriber)
Peter Says: Hold your power, the cancellations are on a rolling basis. Wait for them to cancel first. Then ask for a full refund.
EMAIL: Michele Parent Piper
Hello Peter. I hope you are doing well in light of the current situation. My name is Michele Piper (originally Michele Parent). We actually met on a United flight and were seat companions. From Facebook, I watched your travel summary from Friday. I found it very enlightening and helpful. I thank you for that.
I am traveling BTV to ERW to SFO on April 8th. I am a 1M flyer etc. I do not believe this can happen as the event I was going to is cancelled and the place I was staying is closed. I called United tonight to ask for a refund. The answer was “No”. We will give you a one-year credit from the date of issue (which is actually 10 months from now as I booked it early) and waive the change fee. That is great except, I start a job in May that will keep me fully booked until November minimum. I certainly would just like my money back. Do you have any advice? I did not cancel it as I would like my money not a credit. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
On a side note – we might as well find anything positive that we can… I will be working at a wonderful resort in Vermont in management – Basin Harbor Club in Vergennes, VT. It is close to my home and a super place.
I am self quarantined as well in an effort to be part of helping with the spread of the virus. I hope you are well and look forward to your updates on Monday.
All the best,
Michele Parent Piper
Peter Says: Michelle, United is required to give you a full refund, under U.S. Department of Transportation rules. And thanks for the nice note.
EMAIL: Steve Stallsmith
Hello Peter. Before COVID-19, I booked a flight with AA. When I went to double check the status a week ago, I was able to upgrade to 1st class for $200 one way… still amazing. I likely will postpone that trip. How can I lock in that ticket in 1st class for a later date? There will not be change fees, but getting cash back will be far less than the cost at a later date. Thanks
Peter Says: You’ve answered your own question! No change fees means exactly that. But have you made that future reservation yet? My advice is that you might want to opt for a full refund now (including the $200 extra you paid).
I used American miles to get a plane ticket from DCA to Munich and then return from Berlin to DCA in September 2020. The purpose of the trip was to attend the Passion Play which has now been postponed for a couple years. In order to reinstate my points the airline is charging me a fee of $150.00. I spoke to a supervisor and they will not waive the fee. Do you have any suggestions to not have to pay the fee? Thank you.
Peter Says: American has now relented and will waive the redeposit fee. Check with them again.
EMAIL: Louise Gureghian
I watched with much interest your video regarding “Updates on the Coronavirus and Travel”, and since you invited your viewers to contact you, I am writing to get your advice.
We purchased 2 round trip Business Class tickets (LAX-SIN) on Singapore Airlines for travel beginning April 6, 2020, with a return on April 14, 2020. The airline notified us yesterday that the outbound flight has been cancelled. Since the tickets are considered non refundable, we have only been given the option to reschedule travel by March 31, 2021. Given this unprecedented situation, we believe there should be a full refund.
By the way, Raffles in Singapore is presumably going to offer a full refund based on the current exchange rate. We have not applied for that yet.
What are your thoughts and do you think we have any chance of getting our money back from Singapore Airlines?
Thank you for your insight and I look forward to hearing from you
Peter Says: Louise, Singapore Airlines flights to and from the U.S. are still governed under U.S. Department of Transportation rules, and since the airline canceled you are entitled to a full refund.
EMAIL: John Flood
Holland America Amsterdam World Cruise Terminated Early in Freemantle, Australia Stranding Passengers in a 14 day Quarantine
The ship cut short its 128 day World itinerary dumping the passengers in Australia where they have been subjected to a 14 day quarantine before they can fly back home. The guests had spent close to 14 days sailing from one Australian port to another. The cruise passengers booked was supposed to end in Fort Lauderdale on May 12. It began in Fort Lauderdale in early January. No word on what compensation Holland America offered its guests.
Peter Says: In the past, cruise lines only offered vouchers or onboard credits. I doubt that will fly (or sail) now… it is a very fluid situation, But i will stay on top of this!
EMAIL: Nora Thompson-Perry
Well we are still holding out hope that by June things will be settled and we can continue with our plans we purchased our flights on the points banked in my Delta account.
Is it possible or even necessary at this point to insure the trip since our flights were booked in August 2019?
Thanks for taking our questions!
Peter Says: Nora, most travel insurance policies have specific language that excludes coverage during a pandemic.
EMAIL: Charles Young, Peoria, IL
Hello Peter. My wife and I are booked on Allegiant round trip from Peoria (PIA) to Phoenix/Mesa on April 4. Allegiant has advertised that they will waive change fees for our flights and that we can cancel online. When I go to the website to cancel, the “Cancel my entire itinerary” is greyed out and when I hover my mouse over it, it advises me that it cannot be cancelled online and to call 702-800-2050. When I call that number I get a recorded message that “the person you are trying to reach is unable to receive your call” with no opportunity to leave a voicemail. I gather that the reason I am not able to cancel online is due to the fact I added a rental car to my reservation a couple of weeks ago. I sent an email to Allegiant listing my particulars and asking to cancel Thursday, March 19, but, of course, have received no response. I have no idea how to get ahold of this Company short of driving to the airport. Any ideas? Regards.
Peter Says: This is advice for Charles and everyone else do not repeat do not go online to cancel. You must have a conversation with the travel provider directly and, under USDOT rules, you are entitled to a refund. Again, no online changes and no emails, a conversation!
EMAIL: Shelly Lynch
Thank you Peter for helping us through this unprecedented times. It is scary to see our businesses just disappear. Trying to remain hopeful but I must say it is difficult. Your guidance is much appreciated.
My questions –
I put together a trip to Iceland for a client. We did this last minute and it is just now on his credit card to pay by April 1. The vendor in Iceland (Iceland Encounters) is not going to give him his money back because we are within the 30 day penalty. He was to leave April 4. Can he dispute the charge and not pay it? It is about 11K.
The other issue is IcelandAir – they will not give him a refund at all and said he has one year from the date of purchase. If not giving them $$ back it really should be a year from the dates of the trip – not the date of purchase. He would need to use it by Feb next year. Calling them has not made a difference. I fully look for them to collapse from this. So my client just loses his money?
He also has a trip in late June for Galapagos through Big Five. They refuse to give him back his deposit on this too because they have not cancelled it yet. They still want him to pay his final. Again, this is on his credit card to pay April 1. Does he dispute this charge too?
Peter Says: Shelly, for the airlines, Iceland Air is bound by U.S. Department of Transportation rules that require a refund if the airline cancels the flight. As for the other vendors, he must dispute that charge on his credit card, especially if the operation canceled. for the late June trip, wait until they cancel it.
EMAIL: Patricia Heinlen, Chicago
We are scheduled to travel May 24, Chicago nonstop to Paris on Delta, Grand Circle. Air,land, river all booked through Grand Circle.
Their homepage on their Website currently lists cancellations only through end of April. Do you think we should continue to wait until they post, if any, a cancellation through May, or should we respond now to the new Flexible Booking Policy? How long do we wait to make a decision?
Peter Says: Patricia the cancellations will usually happen around five weeks out so please wait until the operator and airline cancel first.
EMAIL: Mary Lee
Just watched your travel update during the coronavirus, interesting perspective hoping we recover soon but agree things will get worse before it gets better.
We received an email From Southwest informing us our flight to Turks & Caicos was cancelled. We booked our hotel “with insurance” through Expedia (I know big mistake). We always book hotels with free cancellation. We contacted Expedia to cancel our hotel expecting to receive a a full refund including insurance since the corona virus caused SW to cancel our flight. Expedia would not refund our insurance saying it’s their policy. Does not seem fair to me, we had no choice. Is this standard for Online Travel sites? This was our first and last time we will ever buy insurance from an online travel site usually use Travel Guard separately.
Peter Says: I have never been a fan of online booking, and this example only proves my point. But even if you had booked the insurance separately, most of the time you’d lose your money. However,in this situation, you have nothing to lose by disputing the charge with your credit card company, because under federal credit laws you paid for a good or service that you did not receive.
EMAIL: Richard Wheeless
I’ve been an avid listener for more than 25 years. You are perhaps one of the most thorough and knowledgeable reporters on the planet!
My wife and family continue to take your advice as we travel throughout the years.
We booked our cruise through World Travel Holdings (out of Fort Lauderdale, FL). It is paid in full with an American Express Platinum card. As you always recommend, we used InsureMyTrip.com for our insurance. We did not secure a “cancel for any reason” policy”.
In addition, I booked round-trip tickets directly with Southwest Airlines and booked the hotel for the prior night directly with Hilton.
As you’re already aware, Celebrity has cancelled cruises through May 11, 2020. This does NOT include our cruise, as it leaves two days after this date. The cruise sails out of Fort Lauderdale with stops in Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, and Key West. So far, we’re taking your advice by waiting until Celebrity cancels the cruise. If they do, we understand they may offer a full refund or a “future cruise credit” valued at 125% of the original cruise price that will be good through December 31, 2021.
We believe that fewer people will be cruising in the next few years and there may be many deals available. My questions are:
- Why would anyone take the future cruise credit by locking up their money with the cruise line when they can get a 100% refund? Then they will have greater flexibility with their cash and can decide to go on any cruise at any time.
- If we take the future cruise credit, will the existing insurance cover it or do we have to purchase trip insurance to cover whatever cruise we decide to take by December 31, 2021?
Please advise and thanks for all of your great work!
Peter Says: Richard, re. question number 1, I hear you. This is why a number of cruise lines are now finally offering full refunds. As for number 2, the insurance won’t help you if there’s another virus outbreak, since most travel insurance policies do not cover for pandemics.
EMAIL: Elaine Goodson
I currently have a round trip , nonstop flight from Austin to Paris on a new route of Norwegian’s which starts in May. I have tried to call them, with 90% of staff laid off they never answer. What chance do I stand of getting my money back on the ticket? Zero? I did not get flex fair.
Right now I am in a wait and see mode, but do you have any new avenues I might try? I have canceled all my hotels in Paris.
Peter Says: Norwegian is under the U.S. Department of Transportation rule that requires them to issue a full refund if they cancel your flight. They are operating on a minimal staff, since they have essentially grounded most international operations. But that does not absolve them of the responsibility for providing that refund. So keep trying.
EMAIL: Larry Korman
Had a trip planned with Rick Steves travel, they cancelled our trip about 2 weeks ago. Received a full refund within 10 days. They said they would refund, and they did. I did not have to call them. Class Act.
Hopefully it will be just as easy with Delta. Not holding my breath.
Thank you Peter for a fine job.
Peter Says: It will now be easy with Delta, since they are under orders from the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide the full refunds
EMAIL: Lawrence Slomin
I have 2 round trip tickets with Allegiant from Newburgh, NY to Myrtle Beach South Carolina, leaving May 22, 2020 and returning May 30, 2020
As of now I do not know if my wife and I will be able to go in May, but it is not looking too hopeful.
If I cancel the tickets, Allegiant is offering me a voucher.
Do they have to give me a cash refund if I request a refund?
Peter Says: Please wait for the airline to cancel first, then you will be entitled to a full refund.
EMAIL: Marvin Odro
Dear Peter: My wife and I have First class reservations on Delta from Tampa to Rome on Sept.8th,2020 return Zurich Sept.29th. Car rental from FCO traveling south and west then north Italy, Switzerland then return Tampa. I paid for the air ticket but everything else is reserved through Booking.com and can be cancelled. What should I do about the airfare considering the high virus out brake in Italy. Thank you-Marvin Odro
Peter Says: If you can, wait to see how. everything develops…too early for you to cancel now, since you’ll be hit with high change fees.
EMAIL: Karen Urban
I have rescheduled a ‘Best of Switzerland’ tour with Affordable Tours. This tour operates with Trafalgar. It was supposed to take place May 9, 2020. I rebooked it for May 2021. Now I am having second thoughts. Will this company be going out of business? Should I cancel just losing my deposit and travel insurance policy?
Thank you! You are providing such a needed service right now!
Peter Says: Karen, at this point, Trafalgar is a very healthy tour company and there should be no problem.
EMAIL: Fareed Rifat
My wife and I have booked and paid for air and cruise vacation leaving Detroit on Lufthansa on May 27, 2020 to Athens, Greece, and departing Athens to Barcelona on Crystal Serenity, June 14-June26, retuning to Detroit on Lufthansa on June 26. We paid for the air separate from the cruise and we did not buy Travel insurance. As of today Lufthansa and Crystal have not changed or cancelled the schedule due to current travel restrictions. On March 23 Crystal issued their last advisory alert cancelling the Serenity May 3 Mediterranean sailing. We do expect Crystal to issue new updates weekly.
Both my wife and I are seniors, we don’t believe it will be safe to travel with the spread of COVED 19 in Europe and the current US State Department not to travel recommendations. We like to cancel and receive cash refund for the air and cruise fairs however we are afraid we may loose significant portion of what we paid if we cancel before Lufthansa and Crystal cancel or alter our reservations. Are we better of to wait for Lufthansa and Crystal to alter or cancel the schedules? Any suggestions?
Peter Says: Fareed, thanks for your email. Many cruise lines are still showing their ships on schedule in May and June right now. I’d wait, because there is a high likelihood they will cancel the cruise and then you’re in a better position to get a full refund.
EMAIL: Lew Rafsky
Thank you for your kind offer to take our travel questions. I have two.
First question: I live in Burlington, Vermont and have plans to fly RT out of Montreal to London with family on June 23rd on Air Transat. Right now Air Transat is offering rebooking of cancelled flights in April at no additional fee, but at the then current fare…no refunds. If our flights are cancelled, we likely could not arrange our trip during the future timeframe being offered.
My question: Do you know of any Canadian requirement that an airline refund the total fare if a flight is cancelled by the airline? If you do not know, are you able to tell me where I might search for that information.
Second question: We have a flat reserved in London through VRBO. Cancellation terms when we booked called for a 10% management fee if cancelled outside of 60 days. Current terms call for no such fee. I have a feeling my booking is governed by the policy in effect when the booking was made, but wonder whether you might have an idea how I could get out from under the 10% fee which will amount to about $700US.
Thank you for your assistance. It is very much appreciated.
Peter Says: Even though Canadian authorities have recently ruled that Canadian Airlines do not have to issue refunds (just vouchers), that ruling is now being challenged in court. Still, Air Transat is still governed by the U.S. Department of Transportation rules when operating to and from the U.S….so if they cancel their flight, you will get a full refund.
EMAIL: Bruce Nathanson
Several months ago my wife and I redeemed miles (Web special)on American Airlines for an April flight. At the time of booking, the AA website clearly stated that web special redemptions are non-refundable, non-changeable without a heavy fee. Right now I don’t feel like getting on an April flight. If I choose not to fly in April, do I just kiss the AA miles good-bye?
Thanks in advance.
Peter Says: Bruce, it is my understanding that American has finally waived all cancellation and redeposit fees for mileage, so you should be in good shape.