Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire world’s travel plans have been cancelled. While most airlines and travel websites are sending in newsletters, it might be confusing and overwhelming for you to understand how to get refunds against cancelled travel plans.
First things first, most credit cards and travel insurance companies do not cover pandemics. So, it gets trickier to try to get your money back in such circumstances.
To help you out, we did some research and provide relevant tips on getting refunds against cancelled travel plans due to COVID-19.
Try postponing, not cancelling your plans
One way to go about this situation is considering postponing your travel plans instead of altogether cancelling everything. However, given the global lockdowns and continued extensions, we understand that it might be difficult to pin a later date. We suggest going for as late in the year as possible when postponing your travel plans to stay on the safe side.
In fact, many airlines are offering flexibility to help postpone your plans! Here are some examples:
If you booked your tickets directly with Singapore Airlines, you can fill out this COVID-19 assistance form to avail flexibility and other leverages under their travel waiver policy as shown in the image below:
Some other airlines are also encouraging flyers to postpone their plans rather than entirely cancelling them.
Air Asia has come up with a credit account option where travellers can credit the entire amount of the affected bookings to redeem a new flight booking with a year’s span. Another option is that you can change your travel dates without any additional charges.
Another such airline where you can save your money by postponing your plans is Cathay Pacific. While there is a provision to cancel your tickets, the airline encourages travellers to consider postponing.
Korean Air is allowing travellers to reschedule their plans on or before February 28th, 2021, regardless of ticket validity.
Scoot is offering travel vouchers against refunds for bookings made on or before March 15th for travel till May end.
Know the right communication channels
Another important aspect of this process is knowing the right channels of communication. Most hotlines and customer care numbers have long wait hours, and rightly so, after all, this is a global situation. However, airlines have come up with dedicated hotlines and channels to help expedite the process and answers the queries of flyers.
Here’s a list of airlines and the channels to reach them:
Singapore Airlines offers a two-way online request form where either you can contact them or you can share your details for them to contact you. See the online form here.
On the other hand, Air Asia encourages travellers to connect with them using the email id with which the booking was made. For more details on how to submit a request form online on AirAsia’s support page, read the instructions here.
Air Asia’s bot assistant AVA has also been upgraded to handle COVID-19 related queries. She answers to queries such as:
- My flight is cancelled by AirAsia
- I want to change/cancel my flight
Cathay Pacific allows you to manage your bookings by yourself on this online portal.
And, Korean Air suggests you follow the following channels depending on how/from where you made your bookings in the first place.
Did you book with an agency?
Most of us use travel apps and sites for booking our tickets. Now, this is where things get a little complicated. While some companies offer refunds in “special scenarios”, most don’t. Here are some key examples:
Expedia is offering a 100 per cent refund for travel dates until May 31st. You can check out the details on their COVID-10 support page here.
Speaking from personal experience, I lucked out by booking my trip via Travelocity. Travelocity refunded all my money with no penalties. You can find out about their refund process here.
For the booking agency Priceline, the outcome is dynamic. Priceline allows you to cancel your trip online using this portal, however, the outcome is not fixed and may be refunded via vouchers or cash.
Chans World Holidays
Local travel agency, Chans World Holidays, are offering postponed tour arrangements for affected customers. You can check out the latest updates here.
Play the loyalty card, literally
This is just the right time to flex your loyalty to an airline or travel agency. If you have been using a certain travel app for a dedicated couple of years or if there is an airline that you always fly with, now is the right time to play that card. Go ahead and ask for priority assistance, refunds, vouchers and flexibility with your itinerary in lieu of your loyalty.
In some cases, people have managed to claim refunds against non-refundable tickets in the past, owing to their loyalty status. There is definitely no harm in applying this hack to get your money back.
We hope these tips will help you out with getting refunds against your bookings. In the worst-case scenario, if you are unable to get any refunds, try asking for discount vouchers! In fact, some cruise lines and local tourism companies are offering this option. With some good discount vouchers, you might be able to afford a luxury trip in a post-pandemic world.
This article was first published on YP SG.