Ai Editorial: 4 tips for distraught travelers affected by Coronavirus

17th March, 2020

How to get my money back? Leisure travelers, who don’t intend to go ahead with their scheduled trips owing to the spread of the coronavirus, are going through a harrowing phase as they try to get their money back. Travel restrictions, flight cancellations, change in policies…all of it is only adding to the misery.

Being on a call for hours only to get disappointed or even worse repeating the same without any positive result - is it worth the time?  Cancellations and updates have understandably left travelers baffled. Even though travel companies are increasingly being more flexible over cancellations and booking changes in response to the growing coronavirus pandemic, the situation is extremely painful.  

How to react?

It is being pointed out that in certain cases, it would be better to playing the waiting game. For instance, in case travel is more than 3-4 months away, then better to hold on rather than accepting a voucher or travel credit from the travel supplier at this stage. Also, even if a flight isn’t getting cancelled, then also better to see how the policy change is evolving.

Continue to explore options. Depending upon the market one hails from, dig into following areas:

  • Interested in tracking how travel companies are responding, and what are your airline cancellation and rebooking rights? A prudent option is following updates online on consumer websites or from money experts. For instance, MoneySavingExpert in the U. K. has been offering consolidated updates featuring policies and information related to British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair, Jet2, Norwegian, Virgin Atlantic, Accor, Best Western, First Choice, Jet2 Holidays, Marriott, Tui, Avis, Budget etc. These online guides are offering answers to critical questions – how should stranded passengers go about their immediate plan? What does a travel insurance include (medical assistance and expenses, claims for cancellation and trip interruption, personal money personal liability etc)?

Trade organizations such as Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, are also sharing how its carrier members are taking action to help contain and stop the spread of COVID-19.

  • When to count on the credit card chargeback? Gary Leff from viewfromthewing.com, referring to the example of United, wrote: “…for its part, (United) says that if you have an international itinerary with a significant schedule change and want your money back they will make you wait a year. United is not honoring the policy that was published on its website at the time tickets were purchased. That’s a case where I believe you should consider filing a dispute with your credit card company”. (A chargeback is a refund a merchant is forced to make when a customer disputes a purchase. One needs to be aware of the fact that credit card companies each have their own rules for responding to chargebacks).   
  • Airlines themselves are coming up with Coronavirus – COVID 19 updates. It is important to follow them regularly as their policies are also getting updated and fresh details are being provided. Also, certain airlines like easyJet are responding to travel restrictions a country is imposing by sharing its impact on their flight schedule and guidance including detail on what to do (via country-specific links).
  • Keep a vigil on the latest policies of various governments and entry requirements for a specific destination prior to travel.

Extremely precarious situation

 Meanwhile, A4A, has stressed that carriers have seen a dramatic decline in demand, which is getting worse by the day. It stated: “U.S. carriers are in need of immediate assistance as the current economic environment is simply not sustainable. This is compounded by the fact that the crisis does not appear to have an end in sight. In order to combat this unprecedented economic downfall, A4A is recommending the following combination of programs to provide immediate and medium to long-term assistance to the U.S. airline industry and protect their employees: 1) grants; 2) loans; and 3) tax relief.”   

 

By Ritesh Gupta

Ai Correspondent

 

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