The New York Times penned an article today entitled, Once Again, Travelers Ask: ‘Should I Cancel My Trip?’ “As the fourth wave of the coronavirus swells across the United States, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant, travelers who had booked late summer travel are now facing a familiar quandary: Should they once again cancel their plans?”
I get this question all the time and the truth is, there are so many variables. When the COVID-19 numbers were way down, we took our first family plane trip (my daughter Olivia was born in 2019 and we canceled all of our 2020 and early 2021 trips.) Things were looking up and our Los Angeles to New York trip was a huge success.
When we returned from giving much needed hugs to our friends and family (I grew up in nearby Connecticut) we started planning and booking trips for the remainder of the year. We even went to Catalina Island a few days later and had a marvelous time. But then information about the Delta variant started coming, warning that it would soon be running rampant, like it had in India and the UK.
A few days before a July 4 trip to the east coast, my wife and her mother talked me out of going. They were right as usual, because COVID numbers since then have skyrocketed and even people, like my dad, who has been fully vaccinated, are catching it. Unfortunately, my dad is currently in a CT hospital trying to recover from the virus.
I’m so thankful we canceled our travels because our two little kids are obviously not vaccinated. I canceled all my trips because I felt that, as a parent, it was the responsible thing to do since the long-term COVID effects remain largely unknown. I have a cousin who has long-haul COVID from over a year ago and he’s still messed up with lung problems. Another family member thinks he has long-haul COVID but it hasn’t been confirmed, unlike my cousin’s case.
If my kids were protected, we would be traveling, but only to places with low case numbers and where hospitals aren’t at capacity. It was easy for me to cancel our plane tickets because they were booked with miles and after just a couple of taps on the American Airlines app (or website), the trip was cancelled and my miles and fees were redeposited and refunded.
However, that leads me to another question I’ve been getting a lot lately from readers:
“I have a general question about flight cancellations. Are you able to negotiate full refunds on flights using British Air and American? We [are] beginning to get a “sinking feeling” that our annual fall-winter trip to Portugal, via the UK and Lisbon, will be canceled and I am fully paid into business class…all prepaid. I was wondering if you might have some great tips for me to be able to fully utilize the thousands of US dollars that I will likely have “in voucher form” should the Delta variant shut it all down. Thanks for any advice that you may have for my wife and I.” DJ
I thought I would share with you my answer to DJ:
“You can always try but I doubt it. It’s probably best to wait until the last moment to see if the flight gets severely delayed or canceled. If it does then you can get your money back. Call BA and find out what their cutoff time is for canceling because you don’t want to miss that cutoff and keep in mind the long wait times.”
So, if you purchased airline tickets and decide you don’t want to go, then call the airline and find out what their cancellation policy is. If you’re okay getting a future credit, then take it and change your destination or wait until things calm down again. However, if you don’t want a credit or you purchased a basic economy ticket and the airline is sticking to their ‘use it or lose it’ policy, then follow the advice I gave to DJ.
Johnny, can you comment on CFAR (Cancel for Any Reason) insurance for a VRBO renter? My mother-in-law is looking to do a long-term rental (4-6 weeks) next Feb/March and the stock VRBO insurance options don’t cover for COVID-related cancellation (nor does the renter offer this type of cancellation protection). There appears to be a class of 3rd party insurance (CFAR) that can be purchased, and I would appreciate referrals for providers who write such policies and a sense of the cost.