Amanda Stewart was planning a big Disney World trip for her family this spring, booking flights for her family on Southwest Airlines.
But in recent days, this nervous mom has decided that she would prefer to stay home for now.
“With the coronavirus popping up in the United States, we started to worry,” he said. “So we just wanted to cancel and get a refund.”
But when he called Southwest Airlines, “we couldn’t get a refund.”
The travel agent explains what the airlines offer
Lesley Sawhook is a travel agency that these days is more of a consultant for its clients at Exclusive Travel Partners, an online agency with 30 agents nationwide.
Customers now call continuously asking to postpone cruises, European holidays and even some domestic flights.
“My email exploded, and my phone, with worried guests traveling during the spring break and beyond,” said Sawhook.
“Some of my guests who have young children are genuinely concerned and are trying to get me to cancel those dates.”
Sawhook, however, says it is almost impossible to get a refund on a flight or cruise, even with insurance.
For example, he says, “cancel for any reason“insurance can make you cancel, but typically it only gives you back 75% of your money in the form of a voucher for future travel. Some travel insurance companies do not cover cancellations related to coronavirus unless you are actually hospitalized.
Almost no airline, cruise line or travel company, Sawhook explains, will refund you in cash, unless you have purchased a fully refundable full fare ticket, which almost no pleasure passenger does.
Airlines ease the penalties
But the good news, Sawhook says, is that more airlines and cruise lines will reschedule you later this year, without the usual penalties.
“I had to make a change with Delta airlines and they waived the $ 200 penalty; American Airlines is doing the same,” he said.
As for Amanda Stewart’s next flight, we contacted Southwest, where a spokeswoman said the airline cannot give her a full refund.
However, he said, “unlike most carriers, Southwest never charges change fees and our non-refundable fares can be applied to future travel without penalty.”
In the meantime, travel agents like Sawhook are trying to bring some comfort to nervous travelers at this awkward moment.
“We don’t want to lose all business, so if that means moving things to protect everyone, we will.”
In a time of crisis, having a trusted travel agent can be helpful.
And that way you don’t waste your money.
Don’t Waste Your Money “is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (” Scripps “).
Like “John Matarese Money on Facebook
Follow John on Twitter (@JohnMatarese)
For more consumer news and money-saving tips, visit www.dontwasteyourmoney.com