I am certain everyone is fed up, depressed and maybe to a certain degree confused with what is happening to us all. Well, you have a right to feel this way.
Never in our lifetimes have we experienced a serious outbreak of this magnitude globally. The number of deaths around the world is devastating and we all have loved ones that are incredibly vulnerable to the virus this is an extremely frightening time. I also want to offer condolences to all that have already experienced losses and for everyone else, take precaution and follow the guidelines being offered to us, more importantly stay strong!
Our country leaders are discussing the move forward daily and taking all necessary action to slow the spread of the virus. Do you feel your country has taken the correct steps to prevent further outbreak? Let me know your comments and thoughts.
Many major companies face losses, except perhaps supermarkets, toilet tissue companies and hand wash/ sanitiser businesses. Travel is also facing a large amount of job losses however we have all been put in situations where we are unable to offer solutions due to lack of support from various country governments or foreign travel advise. A prime example is happening as we speak. There are several travel bans being enforced whilst passengers are in the visited country. This is a drastic and massive step offering people a few hours to get on a flight before the border closes and airlines stop their flights. As soon as countries, FCO ban travel and close borders the airlines who rely heavily on FCO advise will start cancelling routes. South Americas border closures were so quick, and airlines cancelled their routes almost with immediate effect, leaving 1000s of tourists stranded. To be in a position where we have no solution does not sit well with me. Without an option of another flight my only advice for this would be speak to the team in the hotel you are staying in, see if you can negotiate a heavily reduced rate for your stay, also contact your travel insurance immediately and check if they can cover the costs. If you booked with a tour operator, get in touch as they more than likely work with a local ground team who can possibly assist. Going forward, emergency rescue funds to stranded tourists should be set aside by the government to enable the industry to help bring our passengers home safely, especially when our embassy within the country also close their doors. What are your thoughts on this? Leave me a comment
Whilst I am not an expert on the virus on how to prevent the spread. I would like to offer my advise as best as I can to those with travel disruptions/ cancellations. What you don’t want is to be out of pocket for something that is totally out of your control!
Airlines – They will do what they can to keep your business so the first options they may offer is free changes to a new date, this is restrictive as you can only rebook to the destination you have booked. Whilst this option works it is not always the best solution. Particularly now, with a lot of uncertainty of when to travel again. The second option offered is for you to have a credit to the value of the flights you had originally booked valid for 1 year. This is a new option and a very good offer as this allows you flexibility with destination so you can rebook somewhere completely new.
You can also wait it out and then cancel flights a couple of days before departure. You can wait to hear the government announcements as it is changing daily with the rapid pace of the virus. As soon as the government offer travel bans the airlines then must cancel and honour a full refund to your flight.
Hotels – Most hotels can be booked on 2 rates, flexible and non-refundable or can be known as advanced purchase rates. Both options are quite self-explanatory, the flexible generally allow free cancellations from 14 days prior to departure or some cases even 1 day before arrival, this is a great option and sometimes not too much more than the non-refundable rate. Advanced purchase usually has a percentage off the flex rate, requires full payment up front and would be 100% cancellation charges immediately when booked. The only way again to avoid the non-refundable rate being overturned would be to wait for government advise confirming for you not to travel to the destination and then the hotel will usually waiver their policy.
Any where you plan for the future, make sure you have good insurance cover, check websites for travel guidance and safety, try and have a flexible booking with hotels. Work on your trip with a knowledgeable tour operator who in these scenarios will liaise with the airlines and hotels to make sure you do not suffer any losses. I encourage you to not just cancel but consider rebooking something else for the new year and help save tourism. I would strongly follow all travel ban advise, wait for some time for all countries to get back to normal which will take several months. Based on the situation travelling within the next month or two is unwise and would be a huge risk. Think of rebooking for the new year and allow 2020 to settle.
I would like to show my love and support for all of the travel industry. You all do an amazing job and I hope you all remain strong through this time.