Having worked in the travel industry for several years, never have we experienced a more difficult and life-altering time as this. With more than 300,000 cases worldwide, COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus), has affected travels plans for many. Over the past several weeks our Travel Advisors have been working around-the-clock to navigate through the rapid changes that have taken place in the travel industry. Cancellations, modifications, insurance claims, and travel bans have encompassed our daily routines.
Every day we receive numerous calls and emails from our clients with questions regarding their future travel plans. While we strive to answer all of your questions as quickly as possible, we thought it might be helpful to go ahead and send out the answers to our most frequently received questions.
- Questions & Answers -
What are you, as my Travel Advisor, doing to help me and what can I do to help you?
This is an unprecedented time for us all. As your Travel Advisor, we are working tirelessly to obtain and pass on any information that we can regarding the options for your travel plans. With phone hold times of 8+ hours and thousands of others reaching out to our travel partners at the same time, please know that we will not stop until everyone is taken care of. We are utilizing every resource and contact person available to us in an effort to address your travel plans as quickly as possible; however, we do appreciate your patience as it may sometimes take days to get through and make modifications and/or confirm cancellations. The best thing you could do for us is remain patient and keep an open line of communication with us. At this time, email may be a quicker route to contact us as we are spending the majority of our day on hold and changing over to answer another call may disconnect us from the queue. With an email, we may be able to reply while we are also navigating those phone calls.
Why can't I just cancel my reservation?
Please understand that while this is a global pandemic, at no fault of yours or the travel partners, all travel plans are bound by the Terms & Conditions in which you accepted with the completion of your Payment Authorization form. While we do understand that you wish to simply cancel until the current issues have resolved, many reservations are non-refundable and/or may fall under penalty fees as outlined in the Terms & Conditions. Legally, the travel partners have no obligation to modify their policies; however, many of them are doing just that. We receive many emails each day from travel partners with new policy modifications for our clients and we will do our best to forward that information to you as quickly as possible.
Who decides if my trip is eligible for a refund or future travel credit?
All policies regarding modifications and/or cancellation of your travel plans come directly from the travel partners in which you are booked. As mentioned above, all travel plans are bound by the Terms & Conditions in which you accepted with the completion of your Payment Authorization form; however, many of our travel partners have taken additional steps to help you with rescheduling and/or canceling your current travel plans. In some cases, penalty fees for cancellation are being waived, while the majority are offering no penalty modifications and additional perks, in the form of a future travel credit (FTC), for rescheduling your travel plans. The options available to you vary by travel partner and are changing daily as the situation is reassessed. We want you to make an informed decision, therefore, we will do our best to obtain and pass on the most current information available to you regarding your specific travel plans.
What is a future travel credit (FTC) and how do I use it?
Many travel partners are offering a future travel credit (FTC) in lieu of charging penalty fees so that you can reschedule your trip to later dates (with the same travel partner) without losing any of the expenses that you have already incurred. The exact Terms & Conditions of an FTC is set by the travel partner and will be sent to you if it is applicable to your travel plans.
Is it true some travel companies are going out of business because of this pandemic?
Unfortunately, yes the Novel Coronavirus pandemic has already begun to put many companies out of business. Thus far, we have seen this primarily affecting third-party and online travel companies with whom we do not work. Most recently we were notified of the company 'BookIt' closing its doors without warning, leaving several travelers stranded without across the globe. While no business is immune to the destruction a pandemic may cause, please know that we only work with reputable companies and do not make reservations for our clients with 'BookIt' or companies of its kind.
Should I dispute the charges with my credit card company?
Very simply stated, NO! The charges that you have incurred were authorized by you when you signed the Payment Authorization form, therefore, this type of dispute is known as "Friendly Fraud." In addition, disputing these charges affects us, your Travel Advisors, as a small business.
As Travel Advisors, we are not paid based on hourly rates. Our small business revenue is based on commission set by the travel partner. In most cases, if you do not travel, we do not get paid. While we provide the service, we do not make the rules. This is why we ask you to acknowledge receipt of and accept the Terms & Conditions when you sign the payment authorization. In doing so, you are agreeing to their policies regarding modifications and cancellations.
Refunds and chargeback credits are NOT the same thing.
During this coronavirus crisis, in general, many companies are not issuing refunds (with a few exceptions); instead, they are offering penalty fee waivers for modifications and future travel credit, with some restrictions, so that you do not lose the expenses you have already incurred. This is fair as they are not legally obligated to alter the Terms & Conditions that you accepted at booking.
We understand that this is a frustrating time for many and while you may be tempted to dispute the charges, we ask you not to. If the dispute is awarded in your favor, you receive the credit back to your card; however, that balance will still be due to the travel partner. Who will pay that balance? Your small business travel advisor. This is not fair. We accept the fact that we will likely not be paid for our time planning your untraveled vacation as this pandemic was unexpected and at no fault of any of us; however, we do not accept the responsibility for charges that you willingly incurred simply because you do not agree with the policy modifications that are being provided to you.
We guarantee that we are doing everything we can to help you and we ask that you to do the same for us.
Is it possible to change my travel destination without penalty?
In some cases, you may be able to use future travel credit for a destination other than one originally booked. This is determined by the travel partner and not all travel partners service multiple destinations. While we can and will make the request for you, we cannot guarantee this as a possibility. If the travel partner is willing to allow this modification, we will let you know their Terms & Conditions for the change so that you can make the best decision for your travel party.
Can you help with reservations that were not booked with you?
As hard as it is for us to say no, we cannot assist with reservations that are not booked through our agency. First and foremost, those reservations are legally "owned" by the website or online booking engine where it was created. Secondly, we believe that our loyal clients reservations deserve our loyalty and attention before anything else. We are not willing to sacrifice the customer service that we provide to you by assisting with reservations that we cannot morally or legally access.
What if I have more questions?
Of all the questions we receive daily, this is the easiest to answer. Simply reach out to us. As we mentioned before, we may not be available via phone at all times, but you can always send us an email with your questions and we will do our best to respond as quickly as possible. You can also click the image below.
We hope that through everything, you and yours stay healthy and that you will remain positive about the future of travel. On the other side of this, small businesses will be relying on loyal clients to keep their doors open. We hope that you will remember all of hard work during this difficult time and continue to support us in the future. We also appreciate referrals, so please share our contact information and social media pages with your friends and family to let them know that we would be happy to assist them in the future as well. Be blessed.
Run With Wanderlust Travel