Travel Information: COVID 19!

Hi Everyone, from inside the four walls of my house! It is a very weird time for us all with the Coronavirus Pandemic we are experiencing at the moment. Someone said to me recently that this unsure time is “a life long learning curve” and that has stuck with me since! This situation we find ourselves in, in isolation, has forced people to slow down in everyday life, try new hobbies which are so readily available online, appreciate family and older ones. Most of all, for me, it’s made me very proud to be Irish. People are battening down the hatches together, helping people whoever needs it, putting off retirements, applying to help the front line workers! It is like ‘Ireland’s Call’ is playing out in front of us. It will end and when it does we will all have learnt so much about the nation, ourselves and others.

Until then, some of you have holidays booked, paid for and are unable to go due to restrictions put in place or places being put on lock-down. For me, I have New York booked and paid for in full for flights and accommodation: April 7th-12th. I also have flights to Milan, Italy, booked for May. New York is not going to happen for me and although May is still some time away yet, I am not confident I will get there either.

So…how am I going to get my money back/change my dates/what am I entitled to and where do I start? Let’s take a look! I have been keeping up to date with new articles and information launched by different travel providers every day but as this changes so regularly, even numerous times a day this information may need to be double-checked by the time you are reading this.

Ok so I am going to go through different policies that have been put in place by accommodation providers, OTA’s (online travel agencies) and air travel providers. Hope this helps and just pop me a message if you need some help or have any further questions;

As the WHO (World Health Organisation) first declared the Coronavirus as a global pandemic, AirBnB shortly after pulished the following; Any bookings made on or before the 14th of March 2020 with a check in date from the 14th – 14th of April can be cancelled and you will recieve a full refund. Be sure to cancel with plenty notice before your arrival date.

Booking.com has implemented its Force Majure/Forced cancellation policy to areas to whom are affected by the Coronavirus. Click here for a wide list of affected areas. If your have a booking with booking.com that has free cancellation then that works great for you. If you booking has come to close to the date of check-in or does not offer free cancellation as an option that it is up to the property on whether they want to waive the fee/refund. In saying this Booking.com expects partners to give refunds on prepayments and cancellation costs and the OTA will cover commission. They have also introduced a simple self-service option to change and cancel dates quickly & easily.

Ok, this is who I booked my trip to New York with and with 2 weeks to go until I am supposed to fly, I have tried calling Expedia twice and stayed on hold for 20-30 minutes with no answer. I haven’t done anything else in regards to cancelling or postponing to change dates. I will chat more as to why below. If you are looking to cancel please see here for a form that can be filled out. This is ONLY for cancellations and does not guarantee a full refund. Customer support link here has a lot of information on refunds and re-booking. Expedia is a broker for hotels and airlines and although booked through Expedia the cancellation policies of their partners still follow. It is like cat and mouse, some ring Expedia and are told ring the accommodation/flight company directly and visa versa so this is where you need to do some digging. If you have a flight booked with a low-cost carrier e.g Aer Lingus Expedia cannot make changes or cancel these bookings you must contact them directly yourself. If you have a package deal booked (flights and accommodation) Expedia will not help you with your flights but will help you with your non-flight items (accommodation). Delta Air/British Airways/Luftansa and many others are airlines that wouldn’t be considered low-cost carries, therefore Expedia may be able to help you more there. If it is a hotel booking you can make changes yourself online through ‘Manage my booking’. My booking itinerary says non-refundable and non-changeable but under the circumstances, I am not paying any attention to that. Expedia is a very tricky one but like booking.com they are the ‘middle man’. If you do get a refund they have stated that refunds may not appear in your bank for up to 30 days. I can’t say exactly that you will get your money back as all policies are different depending on who you fly with, where you are staying and when you are going. I will explain what my plan is to do for my trip to New York below.

If you are staying in a major chain hotel/resort like Hilton/Hyatt/Disney please have a look at this link that explains the closures and cancellation policies in place.

  • CRUISES:

Most Cruise Liners have implemented relaxed cancelation policies or have suspended all sailings through to the end of March – April.

AIRLINES:

  • Before I chat about a few main Airlines that I am familiar with here’s the bottom line; If your flight is cancelled by the Airline you will be eligible for a cash refund. (Stated as Rule 261/2004 on EU passenger rights on the lasted updated policy ‘Communication from the Commission 18/03/2020). If you cancel your plans yourself this is not the case, you may be entitled to a voucher(which must be used within a time frame specified by the carrier) or re-schedule to a later date.

Have waived there no change fee until the 31st of May. If you change your dates around there is usually a fee for this but this is not the cause until the end of May. You can also fill out this form to request a refund. If you follow the Facebook page: Ireland: Tips for travellers, you will see that unfortunately Aer Lingus seem to be very hard to deal with in relation to Coronavirus disruptions.

Cancelled flights are eligable for a refund. They are reducing cabin capacity by 80% in April & May. If you have made travel plans until May 31st you can recieve a voucher for future travel which is valid for 12 months from original departure date.

Have implemented that you can change your flight dates and destination without charge but you will have to pay the flight difference. They have also launched their Winter 2020-2021 flight schedule early to assist moving flight dates.

Have grounded all international flights until 19th of April. Refunds are available for cancelled flights or change your booking dates are available (up to 31st of December 2020) without fee but difference in fare must be paid. They have opened a special flight schedule operating for the following few days which you can view here.

As announced today, Ryanair will severely reduce flights as of Wednesday 25th of March. They are urging anyone that may want to return home to avail of the free flight change available until the 25th of March and they are helping the EU government in the repatriation of citizens but have cancelled a large number of flights. They will be the cutting ‘at least 80% of flights’. They have not ruled out the option of grounding the flights entirely and suspending service

For me and my trips……

I haven’t done much to cancel/postpone my trip and the reason for this is; firstly Expedia and more or less every other travel operator has stated that if you are not travelling with 72 hours then refrain from calling customer service. I can only imagine the volume of calls they are receiving and I am sure they are working around the clock. I also haven’t tried to contact them on social media or try to contact the hotel or airline. Some of you might think this is a crazy move but what I am doing is waiting. I am waiting until it gets a lot closer to my departure date before I do anymore.

The logistics, the news, the rate at which information is changing is uncontrollable. I am waiting for if/when Aer Lingus cancel my flight and therefore I am eligible for a refund and can then contact Expedia about my hotel booking. It feels very weird to wait it out which I really could do without as I love having plans, being organised and knowing what the story is but this just simply is not the case. I will not get through to anyone now and people that could have travel plans for tomorrow need assistance before I do.

I am looking for a full refund if my flight is cancelled and if not I will look into the voucher. Re-scheduling is not an option for me to do so quickly with work commitments etc, as New York is not your typical quick getaway location and I am bringing my mam so I want to do it right. Milan, on the other hand, seeing as I only have the flights booked, we will look at changing for a later date.

I know this is a lot of information but this can be a very uphill battle to tackle when it comes to cancelling trips. I hope you found this helpful and gave you a better understanding about whats entitled to you. It is a strange time but we have to be thankful for this tiny, wild & green island we are on! I know when this is all over I will reschedule my trips and even re-discover this gem we live in. Tourism is an industry that is taking hit after hit but will & hopefully, bounce back stronger!!

Support your county, country and nation after this challenging time.

*** Don’t forget policies may have changed and information may be different by then time you are reading this but keep an eye out for my @meraki__travel instagram for further updates. All information taken from emails, websites of travel companies, news, forbes***

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s