Few things are as disappointing as having to cancel your honeymoon or vacation. But if you need to cancel, take these steps to ensure that you don't lose more money on your reservations than absolutely necessary.
Unless your trip is fully insured for cancellation, you may still have to pay for non-refundable parts of it. Follow these steps to cancel your trip before the vacation is scheduled to take place, rather than waiting till after the dates you intended to travel.
Keep your spirits up. Just because you had to cancel this particular vacation doesn't mean you won't be able to take one in the future.
If You Have a Travel Agent
Having to cancel a vacation is one of those circumstances when travelers who worked with a travel agent will be glad they did. In that case, all you need do is make one call to the agent, and she can handle the rest as long as you have travel insurance.
If you bought a vacation through Expedia or Travelocity, call their toll-free number to request assistance. However, due to COVID-19, those scheduled to travel through April 30 may change or cancel their trip online.
If You Have Travel Insurance
Travel insurance can come in handy when you have to cancel a vacation—as long as you meet the policy's requirements for cancellation. Clarifying the terms beforehand will help you know how much you can expect to be reimbursed.
Because of coronavirus, travelers who booked their insurance policy before January 2020 may be covered when cancelling their trip. A "cancel for any reason" plan (CFAR) would also enable you to recoup most of your losses.
How to Cancel Your Hotel Reservation
Hotel reservations tend to be the easiest to cancel without a penalty, as long as you a) didn't opt for a non-refundable rate and b) cancel your visit in time. So go online or call the hotel's toll-free number if you need to cancel and have your confirmation number available.
How to Cancel Your Airline Reservation
Airline reservations are not easy to cancel, especially if you've bought lowest-fare tickets to afford your vacation. American Airlines, which allows customers to request a refund online, states, "Many tickets contain fare restrictions that limit their refundable value and require fees and/or penalties to be deducted from any refund of the original ticket." That said, "death of the passenger, immediate family member, or traveling companion" are considered extenuating circumstances that will entitle a ticket holder who can present proof to a refund.
If you are unable to request a flight refund online, contact the airline by phone. Be prepared to spend time on hold.
That said, many airlines are waiving change and cancellation fees due to the recent coronavirus outbreak. Check your airline's website for more information on travel waivers.
How to Cancel Your Car Rental Reservation
Remember to cancel car rental reservations. If you are unable to do so on the rental company's website and have your confirmation number, call its toll-free customer service number.
If you need to cancel your reservation because of COVID-19, car rental companies like Enterprise and Alamo are offering free cancellations. Check the company's website for more information.
How to Cancel Admission and Tour Tickets
Vacation plans often include more than air, hotel, and car reservations. You may also have bought admission and tour tickets in advance. Here, once again, your reading of the Terms & Conditions before you clicked "buy" makes you an informed consumer. Not all travel products can be canceled at no cost, but it's certainly worth the effort to try. Broadway show tickets, for instance, are not refundable. But you may be able to recoup some of the loss by selling them on eBay or deducting the cost of the tickets from your taxes by donating them to a charity that accepts such items (remember to get a receipt). However, those who booked their tickets for shows through April 12, 2020 will get automatic refunds.
Some Helpful Tips
- Did you read the small print before you committed to airline or hotel reservations? If you're like most travelers, you skipped over them. Go to the company's website and acquaint yourself with their rules.
- If you haven't yet joined your airline and hotel's free frequent traveler clubs, do so before you start making cancellations. That identifies you as a loyal customer. Some companies offer members preferential treatment and expedited handling of phone calls to customer service. It may also save you waiting time on the phone.
- Know in advance whether you want to request a cancellation or postponement.
- Keep track of all the calls you make, and write down the names of the people you speak to.
- Ask for a cancellation number each time. Then keep an eye on your credit card changes. It may take a few weeks before your refund shows up. Should you find a charge after you cancelled, immediately call both your credit card company and the company that levied the change to reverse the mistake.
- Accept the fact that you may have to take a loss on some components of the vacation.