Peter Answers Your Emails: Round 3 — 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: Lee Trummer
On 2/13, my husband and I booked and paid for Florida airfare on United departing 3/25, returning 4/3. We purchased a travel policy from Travel Safe on 3/5, all of these transactions were through our travel agent. We bought the policy because we are primary caretakers for our elderly mothers, who were both medically stable at that time. My mother began developing serious nosebleeds on 3/1, which required 3 separate ER admits over the next couple weeks. On 3/23 we cancelled our travel plans because of her medical instability. Travel Safe’s claim form requests a signed release allowing them access to supporting medical records. Her MD will provide a physician’s statement, but we do not wish to sign such release form. I have left phone messages for Travel Safe, but they have not returned my calls. Please share any advice you might have. Of course, we want full refund, not vouchers. Thank you so much for listening.
Peter Says: Lee, did United cancel the flights? That’s the key here if you want a full refund from the airline. As for travel insurance, if you can’t supply supporting documents (hence the release for medical records), no insurance company will write you a check. So, sign the release and get your money back!
EMAIL: Eileen DiBalsamo
I have a question for your 3pm show on Sat 3/28/2020.
I have four non-refundable tickets booked ORD/DUBLIN/ROME on Aer Lingus. I’d prefer to get a refund for my tickets. I understand I’m entitled to a full refund if the airlines cancels the flight. Aer Lingus has told me they can cancel as late an hour before the flight. For obvious reasons, I’d prefer not to wait that long. They are currently offering a voucher plus 10% of the cost of the flight inclusive of taxes good for five years. This is appealing but I can’t use this voucher on their partner airlines so I can only use the voucher on another Aer Lingus flight connecting through Dublin.
Question: Based on your experience, do you have insight if the airlines will cancel the flight given they are offering this voucher for travel departing now til 5/31/2020? Do you think I should take the voucher? THANK YOU!
Peter Says: Eileen, unless the airline cancels their flight first (in which case you are entitled. To. A full refund), you’ll be hit with either excessive change fees or the voucher. So wait for Aer Lingus to cancel first.
EMAIL: Lorraine Strybel
Is it safe to go to Cancun the end of May…have to pay for our trip next week???
Peter Says: May is essentially on the cusp, if you’re following the numbers and the science. The doctors are telling me that we’re really talking about getting the first green light to travel between May 31-June 5th, and that’s if the current projections hold.
EMAIL: Mickey Kirshenbaum
Hi Peter,Since Canada has prohibited cruise ships over 500 passengers from docking until July, how can the large ships sail from US ports to Alaska without a Jones Act waiver?
Peter Says: Mickey, your question is a very good one, and unless the Jones Act (dating back to 1939) is either amended or waived by congress Or the president, the entire Alaska cruise season may be in jeopardy. Stay tuned. For those who don’t know, the Jones Act prohibits any ship not registered in the U.S. from sailing between two U.S. ports without stopping first in a foreign port.
EMAIL: Max & Evelyn Mejan
We had plans to travel to Holland & Greece at the End of May. WE took out Travel Guard Insurance, Right now they will not cover us under the coronavirus for cancellation. Can they do this. We are waiting for American Airlines to cancel the Flight. We know that traveling to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam the Dept. Of Public Health is not allowing anything until June 1st. We fly on May 27th. That Pretty much kills it. American Airlines has not contacted us yet about any Vouchers or credits to our Credit Card concerning Entry into Holland.
Max & Evelyn Mejan
Peter Says: Most travel insurance has policy language that excludes coverage because of a pandemic. As for your flight, American Airlines will probably wait until May 10th or so to cancel the May 27th flight. You should wait until then to make a decision (once the airline cancels) if you want a full refund or a travel voucher.
EMAIL: Alan Dempsey
I have a flight leaving from Chicago to London in May 16th. As per your suggestions I haven’t canceled anything yet.
Do you think that it’s safe to reschedule for October? I’m hopeful things will resume to more normalcy by then. Oh by the way, what’s the weather like in England, then.
You have a great show!!!
Peter Says: Yes, it’s safe to reschedule to October, but please wait for the airline to cancel first so you preserve your rights and options.
EMAIL: Kathy Weir
I have a round trip flight from Chicago ORD to Austin TX AUS on American Airlines on April 15 returning on April 20. The trip was purchased with AAdvantage miles. I know AA will let me cancel the flights BUT what about getting the miles returned to my account? After listening to your Saturday March 28 radio show on WGN I know how I could get MONEY back but what about airline miles?
Peter Says: AA will now allow you to redeposit the miles without charging a fee.
EMAIL: Eileen Fitzpatrick
LOVE your show! My husband and I are recently retired and plan to do a lot of travel as soon as it’s safe.
My husband and I are going to our goddaughter’s wedding June 17-21 in Cabo San Lucas. The wedding is at a resort, Pueblo Bonito Sunset Beach. At the suggestion of the bride’s mother-in-law, we bought airline tickets (at almost $750 each!) as she said they increase during the summer months. A few concerns:
Will travel to Mexico be safe in June? (My husband is not a fan of travel to Mexico in the 1st place!)
Tickets have reduced drastically to almost $300 on American Airlines. I thought of cancelling and re-booking but I’m not sure if it’s considered a domestic ($200 per ticket fee) or international ($750 per ticket fee), so will it be worth it. Or do I wait to see if the flight is cancelled all together and get my full $1500 refund.
Appreciate your thoughts. Thank you.
Peter Says: Eileen, you have a multipart dilemma! May and June are still on the cusp as it applies to whether it will be deemed safe to fly. And right now, my understanding is American hasn’t yet cancelled flights. It will probably wait until the middle to the end of May to do so. And here’s the other part of the dilemma. Chances are the fares will be much lower if it does operate the flight. But right now, you need to wait until American cancels the flight. If you cancel the flight, you’ll be hit with cancellation/rebooking fees. So just wait. If American cancels, your rights are preserved and you are entitled to a full refund.
EMAIL: Vicki Seltzer
Good Day Peter,
As a Travel Advisor since 1968, your wise commentary on the travel industry has been appreciated.
Now it seems necessary to write you regarding the current stance of Lufthansa not allowing valid refunds. The point of paying a higher amount for the flexibility to cancel voluntary, however, Lufthansa is not honoring their own practices.
You have asked to be made aware of poor or illegal policies.
So here goes:
One older couple(+65) purchased business class tickets to Russia on flights that have not yet cancelled. They decide to postpone their trip for one year. As the validity of ticket cannot exceed one year from date of issues (23Jan20) a full refund is due or travelers.
Our GDS has been inhibited for refunding ticket and requesting refunds directly gets no reply.
Your help would be greatly appreciated.
If you wish to assist me we can communicate about the details.
You would be helping many advisors and travelers alike.
Victoria (Vicki) Seltzer, CTC
Peter Says: Vicki, both the European Union rules and long standing U.S. Department of Transportation rules clearly state that if Lufthansa canceled the flight, you are entitled to a full refund.As recently as Friday, the DOT reminded all airlines of this. And this also applies to any foreign carrier flying to or from the U.S.
EMAIL: Fred Godett
What is our best way to seek refunds for a planned trip that has been cancelled due to Covid-19.
The trip scheduled dates were from Apr. 18 – May 10.
We were part of a large tour group to Poland to attend the March of the Living. The tour was cancelled by the tour company. They have told us that they will get back to us with information regarding refunds but needed to deal with the parent tour group, airlines, hotels, vendors etc. before getting us answers. The cancellation notice was sent to us on March 9, 2020. We booked through a company called Authentic Israel. The parent group is International March of the Living.
Through them we booked the 8 day tour as well as one way group airfare from JFK to Krakow. Independently, we booked airfare to meet the group at JFK from Boston for us and from Indianapolis for our son. We also booked additional airfare for travel after the tour that would take us to Germany and then return to the states.
We did take out travel insurance for all parts of the trip and have filed claims for everything. We have not yet attempted to seek refunds directly from the airlines for the independent travel portions or to try and cancel reservations waiting to see exactly what the Airlines will offer (credit or refund).
We have reservations on various airlines including American, Delta, LOT, Aer Lingus, and IcelandAir. Do you recommend reaching out directly to the airlines at this time to find out what they are offering or wait a bit longer until we get closer to our scheduled travel dates.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Beth and Fred Godett
Peter Says: Beth and Fred, the airline issue can be easily resolved. If the airline canceled the trip you are entitled to a full refund. The tour operator is another issue, so please update me on your progress there.
EMAIL: Mike Smith
Long time listener, first time question.
Please email the travel insurance company you like and have used for a long time.
Peter Says: Two of the companies I like are MedjetAssist and Travel Guard.
EMAIL: Mitch Greenberg
Good Afternoon. I am looking to book some air fares for future travel in February 2021. I will be using Hawaiian, Qantas, Singapore and Southwest. My question is how long should I wait until I book the flights? And do you think any of these carriers will be in jeopardy of limited or no operations.
On a different note, I think we met way back in the 70s in Las Vegas. At the time I worked for Wayne Newton.
Peter Says: Mitch, did we meet back in the ‘70s? I was at Newsweek and was there to interview Wayne. Yikes, could it be 45 years ago? The answer to your question should be about six months in advance for those February 2021 flights so you’re a little too early, and the airlines you mentioned should be flying then.
EMAIL: Giedra Aguilar, Northbrook IL
We flying to EU in June with SAS airlines.
How long should we wait before inquiring refund on our flight?
Peter Says: Remember you want to wait until the airline cancels first to be able to preserve your rights so you might want to let the situation continue to develop since SAS is currently grounding all of their flights and that grounding may extend through June.
EMAIL: Mitchel Benson
What are my options if Lufthansa cancels my round trip flights b/w LA and Paris scheduled for mid-May and refuses to refund the fares?
Peter Says: Lufthansa can not legally do this. It operates under U.S. Department of Transportation rules when flying to or from the United States so call and remind them of the rules and then send me all the details.
EMAIL: Terry Reilly
My wife and I, along with my cousin and his wife booked this cruise through a travel agent. We also booked the flight, United Departing O’Hare on September 25th, and Insurance with trip mate, through the travel agent.
We purchased everything through our agent with credit card.
We paid $758.00 for insurance
$600 down for United
$500 down for the Avalon River Cruise Portion
We would like to cancel based upon the current situation and the unknown, as it relates to Coronavirus resurfacing in the fall (if it even goes away).
Peter, what is the best course of action for us. We need to pay in full before June 26th.
We are trying to minimize our losses and we look forward to your guidance.
Thank You Peter
Stay Safe and Healthy
P.S. We are retired and health is paramount.
Peter Says: Terry, thanks for the e-mail. I would suggest not canceling yet and waiting to see what happens. That means waiting and not canceling yet. That means waiting and making a decision closer to June 26th. Keep in mind that if the cruise operates and the airline operates their flights that your options are diminished. But we should revisit this in mid-June.
EMAIL: William J. Braun
What has been the experience with Orbitz ?
How do you go about getting a trip refunded if booked thru Orbitz? Going from Chicago to Nassau, the Bahamas in late April, booked in January. Orbitz has notified me that they already cancelled the first leg of the trip and said they would give a “trip air credit’ for the flight to Nassau, but not the return flight NOR the hotel. There was no mention of any other part of the the trip in the cancel email….
American Airlines is the airline. Hotel was the Atlantis Royal Tower in Paradise Island, a Marriott Hotel.
Who do I call or ask for refund ? Can I get a cash refund from Orbitz ?
I would like to get the credit in the form of cash/credit on my credit card if possible.
Please advise….Thank you,
William J. Braun
Peter Says: Orbitz is not correct if the airline canceled the flight (and not you). Then, you are entitled to a full refund back to the original form of payment under the U.S. Department of Transportation rules.