Sep 1, 2021
If you're worried about the latest rise in COVID-19 cases, or the possibility of yet another surge, then you're probably thinking about canceling your next vacation. And you might be wondering: How do the professionals call the whole thing off?
It turns out travel advisers have learned a new set of skills during the pandemic, at least when it comes to canceling a trip. And it's not just how they cancel but when. Along the way, they've also picked up some insights into how to ensure a trip is cancelable in the first place.
Here's one trick the pros learned after COVID-19: Never call to cancel a trip. If you tried, then you already know what happens. A cheerful voice announces that the next available representative will assist you ... in six hours. I've even heard from travelers who had to wait up to half a day to talk to someone.
Travel professionals say it's better to cancel online or by email. It's fast and you'll receive a confirmation by email, which is essential to ensure that the cancellation has been processed. Otherwise, I hope you're patient.
"The best way to cancel an already booked trip is to check the terms and conditions and read the fine print for penalties," says Matthew Kondrup, president of Matty K Travel Group, a travel agency in Wantagh, New York.
He says while many companies are accommodating when a traveler has to cancel a trip because they have COVID-19 or another illness, they're less understanding when your reason for canceling is because you're nervous about traveling. You'll find out about your rights to cancel in the fine print of your purchased policy.
If you cancel planned travel, you normally have to pay some kind of penalty. But if the company cancels your trip, you may be entitled to a full – and fast – refund. A lot of people don't know this and accept a credit when an airline or cruise line cancels.
"Most Americans aren't aware that they can usually get a refund when an airline cancels," says Kunal Sawhney, CEO of the Kalkine Group. Your rights to a refund are spelled out in the airline's contract of carriage or the cruise line's ticket contract. It's definitely worth reading before you try to cancel.
Read more for additional cancellation tips.