I’m getting a lot of questions about airline tickets especially, but also about prepaid hotels. Readers want to know why airlines aren’t being more flexible with customers who do not want to travel at this point.
Your credit card’s coverage isn’t going to be helpful for most trips right now. Everything except ‘cancel for any reason’ travel insurance isn’t either. Generally speaking unless a state of emergency is declared where you’re traveling you aren’t going to be able to cancel fee-free. Most trips that are being cancelled now are being cancelled for your comfort or because of your best judgment and not because they are impossible. As a result coronavirus cancellations are not in most cases force majeure events.
That may change which is why you shouldn’t cancel too early. You may not want to travel to Rome right now, but there are still flights operating to Rome and it isn’t under quarantine the way Milan and surrounding area is.
There’s little benefit to cancelling a trip now that you aren’t going to take versus waiting until much closer to scheduled departure to do it, and there’s an upside to waiting.
- Your airline may cancel the flight or route, in which case you’ll be entitled to a refund.
- Your airline may reduce its schedule, and change the time you’re flying. Right now everyone but United will give refunds under this circumstance. United will at least give you travel credit without a change fee, to be used within 15 months of original ticket purchase.
- If it becomes impossible, or contrary to government recommendations, to travel to a particular area then you’ll probably be able to cancel even prepaid, non-refundable hotel bookings – or, if not, standard travel insurance or credit card insurance may apply.
The point is that facts on the ground are changing. If those facts don’t allow you to cancel with a refund today, wait to cancel. Don’t do it immediately for travel that’s planned in the future. You may be able to get a refund later that you cannot today.