Travel deals are abundant right now, but is it crazy to book them?
Since Coronavirus shut down virtually all travel, the vacation industry is trying hard to get you to book a trip for the future. To do this, they are changing some of their long-held policies regarding fees and cancellations to get you to commit now.
Today’s show talks about how to take advantage of the great deals now, while still protecting your investment and making sure you can stay safe.
Show Notes & Timestamps
- Should you be booking travel for after Coronavirus? 00:00:42
- What you need to watch out for when booking for later 00:01:23
- Important reminder about your rights with canceled flights 00:02:13
- How hotels and homeshares are changing policies 00:02:51
- Summary 00:04:27
Hello and welcome to the Safe Travels podcast. My name is Damian. This is the show that helps you get rid of those travel worries so that you can sit back, relax, have a good time, and not worry so much.
Today we’re going to be talking about booking travel in light of a Coronavirus. That might sound crazy, but it might be less risky than you actually think.
Even just a few months ago, we had the good old days of travel…you would pick a place to go, look at your calendar and try to find the right days, book the trip, and off you go.
But those days are gone for a little while. With the pandemic happening, essentially all travel is on hold and we’re in a holding pattern. We’re waiting to see what will happen.
However, at the same time, we see all of these travel suppliers reaching out with emails and advertisements showing all of their wonderful deals. They’re all trying to get people to spend some money on travel.
So should you be planning future travel now? The short answer is yes.
But there’s an asterix there. You can start planning now, but it depends on a few things.
You need to be a little bit flexible. You need to have a decent risk tolerance. And, you need to be willing to do some homework and keep track of some travel supplier information.
And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
I see a lot of reports of people booking travel for Midsummer and afterwards. In fact, prices are about as cheap as they’ve been since 2001. And once things start to clear up, they’re going to increase pretty sharply and pretty quickly.
And the deals are pretty ridiculous. For peak times, like summer travel for New Year’s Eve, for Christmas time, you can see flights to Europe, to South America for just a few hundred dollars round trip.
And there are people booking those trips.
So the deals are certainly there, but here’s what to watch out for.
Typically when you want to cancel a flight or change a flight, you could expect to pay a few hundred dollars and any change in airfare, but now a lot of the major US carriers are offering free change fees and cancellations.
Now each airline is a little bit different…they have different windows where you need to be booking or different travel dates.
This really varies from airline to airline, so with each one you would need to look at the different dates that they’re stating. There’s either booking windows or travel windows, but if you’re within those guidelines, they’re offering free cancellations or free changes.
If you do change a flight, they just require that you pay any sort of difference in airfare, but it gives you a lot of flexibility, lets you book a trip now that you think you might be able to take, that you hope you might be able to take, but you also know that you can change it if you need to.
And in most cases, that change window gives you through 2021.
And just as a side note, it’s important to remember that if a flight is canceled and there’s no reasonable rebooking option for you, airlines are required by law to issue you a refund. You don’t need to take a voucher or a credit when you’re actually entitled to get your money back. A lot of airlines might try to entice you to take the credit, maybe by offering bonuses, but the choice is yours. So remember, if the flight is canceled outside of your control and there is no reasonable rebooking option, they do need to give you your money back.
So basically, airlines are being pretty flexible with a lot of their booking options, with rebooking options, with cancellations.
So that’s where some of the homework comes in. Each airline is a little bit different, but if you’re willing to do the work, you can find some really good deals with a lot of flexibility.
As far as hotels and homestays like Airbnb, they’re getting a lot more flexible as well.
Hotels are loosening up on their strict cancellation and rebooking policies.
For example, the CEO of Marriott international emailed customers on April 8th: “for guests making new reservations for any future arrival date, including reservations with prepaid rates between March 13th and June 30th, 2020 we will allow the reservation to be changed or canceled at no charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival date”.
What’s kind of funny is that a lot of hotels are just going back to the way things used to be, where you can make a reservation and if you cancel it 24 hours ahead of time, there is no charge. Over the past several years that’s gone away…now it’s an upcharge to buy a room that is cancelable.
And then I mentioned Airbnb as well with home shares. They’ve been in the news because of their initial Coronavirus response…they had some restrictions and it did not cover bookings that weren’t in countries that were on lockdown, and they got a lot of bad press about that, but they’re trying to change things.
They’ve since expanded their extenuating circumstances policy include bookings that were made before March 14th for travel through May 31st
So in short, there are a lot of great deals out there.
I know airfare is dirt cheap. We take an annual trip to visit my parents in South Dakota, and we fly there from Boston, and we’re usually happy to pay $500-$600 for that plane…and I’ve been getting alerts that that flight is as low as $170 recently.
I think you’ll see the same thing with package trips. You might see some really great deals, and more importantly, you’re going to see companies being more flexible with changing those plans or canceling those plans.
They’re trying to make travelers feel comfortable enough to buy travel, but also know that they can cancel the trip if they need to because of the situation.
So if you’re thinking about booking travel now for future trips and that you might be a little bit crazy, it seems overwhelming, but it might be less risky than you think.
Take a look at the various companies’ policies. See how they’ve changed their policies for rebooking and cancellations. You can probably find some great deals, still protect yourself from financial loss, still stay safe if you want to stay home…but the opportunities out there.
Thanks for listening. I hope this has been helpful. Please share it if you can, and Safe Travels!