Whether it’s a trip you booked months ago, or a last-minute deal you snagged when news coverage of the coronavirus was still just a faint rumble, travelling at this time is not an option. The Canadian border is now officially closed to all but essential travel, so that trip to Cuba will have to wait.
In the meantime, if you booked a trip that was supposed to happen in April or May—or even beyond—and are afraid of losing everything you paid for, don’t worry: I got you. Together, let’s look at what can be done to get the refunds you need or at least postpone your trip to when it will be safer to travel again.
Will you be able to get a refund on your travel booking? The first step is to check whether the airline you booked with will issue a refund during this global pandemic. If it does, great! Problem solved. If it doesn’t, don’t panic.
Some major airlines, like Delta, will automatically transform your flight into credit that can be used in the future; some require you to take a certain action to ensure your travel booking can be transferred to a future date, or whether you can cancel and get your money back and, if so, what fees are attached?
It’s up to you to check with the airline you booked with. A good place to start is on their website (especially because there are long wait times to reach representatives via phone).
You’re very likely to get either a refund or credit for the future. For example, Air Canada has posted this message on their website:
“If you made a flight booking before March 31st, 2020, and you want to cancel it, you can do so with no cancellation fee. You will receive full credit, which you can use towards future travel. This credit is valid for travel before March 31st, 2021.”
Also remember that the Canadian Transportation Agency’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations require airlines to refund your airfare, plus an inconvenience fee, if your flight is cancelled. And cancellations are very likely during this pandemic, as major cities and states go on state-wide lockdown and declare a state of emergency.
As with air travel, hotels’ and other accommodations’ policies on cancellations, rescheduling and refunds vary. Reports indicate that most places are issuing refunds and closing down until further notice. In fact, people I spoke to who had a trip booked in the next few weeks told me that their hotel cancelled on them, so there was no action needed on their part.
If your hotel doesn’t make the first move to cancel, it is advisable to call them as much in advance of your planned stay as you can to let them know that your flight was cancelled and that you won’t be able to travel. Always be polite and friendly when you get a representative on the phone; that will increase your chances for a refund and great treatment in return.