Booking and Canceling Travel During COVID-19

Advice to Save Money and Stay Healthy from the Better Business Bureau
Updated: Mar. 23, 2020 at 12:58 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Coronavirus is having a heavy impact on the travel industry as many people began rethinking their travel plans. If you’re looking to cancel or reschedule a trip, experts with the Better Business Bureau advise contact the airline or cruise line directly.

“You definitely want to check in with the company directly, or if you have travel insurance, read your policy, find out what the cancellation policies are," Michelle Asaro, VP of Operations for BBB Serving Northeast Florida & The Southeast Atlantic, said. "The cruise industry and the airlines, they’re rapidly changing those policies daily. So definitely check with that and see what your options are and then go from there. Because if you’re in the population that’s higher at risk, cancellation may be your best bet, even if it costs you money.”

Asaro warns that if you have travel insurance, that policy is probably not going to change from what it was when you purchased it. For airlines and cruises, she recommends calling the companies directly rather than checking online because of how frequently they are changing their cancellation policies right now.

“Definitely look to see if there’s any way for you to cancel and receive a full refund outside of travel insurance,” Asaro said. “Ask about time restrictions, such as you know if you cancel within the first 30 days of booking you get that full refund. If it’s after that, there may be a percentage refund as long as it’s canceled prior to so many days in advance. Definitely ask about what their no refunds under any circumstance policy is.”

Prices continue to plummet for flights that are still months away. If you are interested in booking some flights a few months out to score some travel deals, there are some factors Asaro advises you consider first.

“I would definitely start with travel insurance. You pay a little bit for it, but in the event that something like this happens, read the policy because a lot of them offer that full refund, so you would not lose money on those. But definitely check those policies because they’re not the same, and they don’t all have the same coverage," Asaro said. "Find out what their cancellation policies are for the airline you’re going through. And think about hiring a travel agent, because that travel agent will do all of the legwork for you. They’ll find out those cancellation policies.”

If you’re looking for more consumer travel advice during this COVID-19 outbreak, the BBB is updating this list of tips every day.

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