|Planning a trip or vacation requires quite a bit of advanced planning. Most consumers know that certain arrangements or deposits paid in advance are non-refundable or charges may be incurred for making changes. Due to the current swine flu outbreak people scheduled to travel to, from or through Mexico may be offered more lenient treatment from certain groups within the travel industry.
The health and safety of travelers and those they come in contact with should be the first priority of all parties. Airlines and various tour operators have waived or at least reduced penalties normally incurred when changing travel plans. This may not signify a cash refund, rather the ability to change destinations or dates of travel which normally would cost extra money or higher fares. For example under normal circumstances consumers who purchased non-refundable airline tickets are subject to $150-$250 itinerary change penalties in addition to paying more for the new flight. Some tickets paid in advance offer zero refunds when canceled or changed, which makes even a small amount of leeway appreciated by many travelers who have been forced to alter their travel plans.
Unfortunately a health warning from the government does not negate your contractual obligation which means travelers have little protection if the travel industry decides to NOT offer refunds or exceptions to the contract. If that is the case, the following tips may help consumers recover money from a canceled trip.
If all else fails and you are unable to secure a refund or exchange for a trip paid in advance you will be forced to decide if you are willing to risk your health or take the loss financially.
- When looking for refunds consumers should contact the same agencies or organizations that were paid in the first place. For example, if you booked and paid through a third party (travel agent, travel website) you must seek a refund from the same location. Contacting the hotel or airline directly will likely result in a run-around as they were not paid directly from you and therefore cannot issue the refund.
- If a government warning changes to a government action preventing you from traveling to your destination, you have the right to break your contract without penalty.
- Negotiate- In some cases you may not be able to receive a full refund however this should not dissuade you from trying to negotiate a deal. The travel and airline industry which are suffering from the recession and consumers who are traveling less may be willing to work on a deal that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved.