Back home in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, under the same stay at home orders as most of the world, I am working these days on the cancellation process that can be so cumbersome for canceling airline reservations, hotels, cruises, and tours. Fortunately, the Coronavirus has forced many travel companies to allow for these cancellations and changes. However, it seems that refunds are most time consuming and difficult to obtain. Why? They sure charge your credit card instantly, so why does it take them 5 weeks to refund your money? I wish I had the answer except that they have to manually handle them vs. their automated payment systems?
The question of course becomes the offers that are coming from these travel providers by incentivizing your credit so that you do not get the refund, but a travel credit to use in the future. If you plan on rebooking a vacation through that same travel provider, then by all means take advantage of these offers which can be as high as 125% of the original value of your travel. But if you are unsure of your travel plans, then you most likely would just like the full refund, which unfortunately takes a while to complete to show up back on your credit card or bank account.
I had booked a cruise in April 2020 from Singapore to Tokyo and it was of course canceled by the NCL cruise ship company in February 2020. I was able to reapply their 125% credit for another cruise I booked almost immediately for May 2020. Then I was in contact with my airline carriers (ANA-All Nippon Airways) and Aeromar to cancel those flights. Since this was the beginning of the cooperation of travel partners, they shorted me $300 USD from ANA and Aeromar would only let me change dates. I was not too worried about the shortage from ANA because NCL offered a $300 change/cancellation fee if they airline did not work with you.
But I stayed persistent and finally Aeromar agreed to full refunds back at the beginning of April as the coronavirus spread to Mexico. Now, I have received the ANA refund last week and the Aeromar coming in the next 2 weeks. Meanwhile after lots of back and forth with NCL regarding documentation, I have the $300 per ticket refund coming back from them soon as well. Of course I had Visas expenses that no one will reimburse! I am still working on the hotels that were nonrefundable by Expedia and I saw last week that one of them changed to refundable, probably due to the change in Expedia coronavirus policies. I am still working on the last hotel in Mexico City, so I hopefully will get that last one back as well.
Here comes the next part about the cancellation of my May 2020 Scandinavian cruise, which by the way has not been officially canceled by the NCL Cruises yet, even though many cruise ship companies have already extended their cancellations into June 2020. I am being proactive this time and started my cancellations beforehand because at least NCL is giving their customers till 48 hours before departure to cancel. So, I will stay patient and hope to achieve the same results of the 125% future cruise travel credit as happened before on the April 2020 cruise. Otherwise, my airline Iberia already offered a 110% future travel credit, so I canceled the flights and since I had purchased fully refundable rooms reservations, so those were much more easily canceled. The transfer service from Heathrow to Southampton also offered refunds due to coronavirus, so I took advantage of that as well. So everything is canceled now except for the actual cruise…..I will continue wait and see!
My point is being, persistence, persistence is the only way to get it all done! I am sure these travel companies bank on many clients just walking away from the hassles of dealing with all the rules, regulations, and formats required to get your refunds. I am starting to learn a bit myself about booking non-refundable room reservations as well as looking seriously at trip cancellation insurances that are offered by almost every airline, cruise ship company, and even Expedia. Maybe it makes sense in this uncertain world that we now live in?