How to tackle the Covid-19 travel disruption
Thousands of flight and hotel bookings are being shifted — here’s what to do
By Melissa on March 16, 2020
It’s a stressful time for travellers all over the world. As more and more countries are closing their borders to passengers flying from high-risk Coronavirus (Covid-19) areas, countless trips are being rerouted or cancelled. We understand what a confusing time this is. That’s why we’ve gathered some tips to help guide you. We’ve also asked some of our team members here at Monese to share their recent experiences and advice.
On affected flights
News about the Coronavirus is evolving rapidly. Therefore, it’s important you stay up to date and follow the instructions and advice of official health authorities, government websites, embassies or consulates when it comes to travel restrictions being imposed. There are also many news outlets keeping readers up to date via live blogs. For example, in the UK, you can keep up with the latest information on Covid-19 with The Guardian or BBC.
Aside from keeping up with reports, watch out for any updates from your airline, travel agent or agency. They should be keeping you informed about any cancellations, refunds, vouchers or rebookings. Chances are, though, that they might be overwhelmed right now — so you might want to check their websites, as most of them should have already posted an update (e.g., easyJet, Vueling and Wizz Air).
On hotel reservations
When it comes to hotel bookings, it’s also best to check with them for any updates on their cancellation or refund policy due to the pandemic. Expedia, for example, has posted information regarding how it’s handling cancellations. Airbnb has also posted its response to the outbreak, outlining what they’re doing to help hosts and guests during this time.
And if you have travel insurance, check to see if you’re covered for the money you can’t get back from your airline or hotel. It will depend on the policy you’ve taken out, and if it includes things like cancellation cover, airspace closure cover, travel disruption and so on.
From our own experience
Mihnea from the UK: “I was planning to set off for my stag do in early April. While my airline would’ve still flown me over, the destination country’s borders were closed to anyone flying in from the old continent. It doesn’t look like I’ll get refunded for the flights, but they are offering free rebookings (although I’ll have to pony up the fare difference if there is one). We managed to get a full refund on all our hotel bookings, courtesy of Booking.com’s free cancellation option and Airbnb’s exemplary handling of the global situation”.
Even if your flight hasn’t been cancelled (yet), you may be forced to quarantine upon arrival.
Melissa from Portugal: “My suggestion to travellers right now is to keep up with updates from, not just their residential country, but their destination country as well. Even if your flight hasn’t been cancelled (yet), you may be forced to quarantine upon arrival. And if you’re in quarantine the majority of your trip, it may not be worth it”.
Wait for a cancellation by the travel company or airline. This would likely guarantee a refund.
Tuuli from Estonia: “I was supposed to be travelling at the end of March, but due to the outbreak, it won’t be possible anymore. My advice for anyone who’s made direct bookings is to wait for a cancellation by the travel company or airline. This would likely guarantee a refund”.
It’s still worth it to get in touch with your hotel to see what they can do for you.
Karina from Portugal: “Even if your hotel booking doesn’t include free cancellation, it’s still worth it to get in touch with them to see what they can do for you, given the circumstances. My boyfriend, for example, was offered a 50% refund even though he wasn’t entitled to any reimbursement”.
I don’t think I’ll get compensated for a change of heart.
Michael from Germany: “I ended up deciding to postpone my trip to London, because things are evolving so quickly that I might end up getting locked down away from home. I got in touch with the booking site for a refund or reschedule – but because it wasn’t a flexible booking, I don’t think I’ll be compensated for a change of heart". Tomas from the UK: “I had to change two flights due to the outbreak. In both cases I was able to change them for another date, free of charge. They didn't, however, allow me to get a refund if I wanted to cancel them”.
Remember that if you’re feeling even just a little bit ill, it’s best for you and the protection of others to try and postpone your travel plans. Stay home, rest and if you’re showing symptoms of Covid-19, don’t go to the hospital or pharmacy. Instead, isolate yourself and get in touch with your local health services via telephone and follow their guidance.
We want to take this opportunity to remind you to stay calm and not panic. Continue to take care of yourself and take all the precautionary measures in place outlined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and your local government. And remember: we’re always here to support you.
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