How To Cancel A Trip Due To COVID-19

Here is an introduction on what to do if you want to cancel a trip. We’ll have a detailed article Thursday.

The steps to follow depend on these 3 very simple situations:

 

If You Are Abroad Now

Contact your booking site or airline. It always helps to be prepared and to have looked at your situation on your own. You’ll have plenty of wait time on the line to do so anyway, because Karen, whose flight is in April, is clogging the call center for no reason instead of waiting a few weeks (apologies to all Karens; you get the point of the example).

Being prepared means taking responsibility: research your airline’s flight options to get back home, and have the flight numbers ready. Make sure the transit options are countries that haven’t closed their borders, etc. Make it easy for the employee to help you; it will be quicker.

Airlines are all very flexible due to this highly unusual situation, so this should all be done at no cost to you—don’t worry.

Don’t want the hassle of calling the airline? Your credit card’s trip interruption insurance might help you.

That’s why we keep telling you, since the very moment we launched in 2017, that paying for a flight with anything other than a good travel credit card is the biggest mistake you can make, and getting one is the easiest way to make your travels smoother. There are some for all levels of income.

Not only do these cards give you hundreds worth of free travel when you get them, but many of the good ones also offer plenty of free insurance coverage. I use the various insurance benefits every year and save hundreds of dollars! We’ll have more content about how cards work during this forced travel break so you can put this time to good use.

Best Cards For Trip Cancelation / Trip Interruption Insurance

Scotia Passport Visa Infinite

Best for incomes over $60k
$171 in free travel (simple points)
Get 6 lounge passes & no FX Fee

Scotiabank Gold

Simplest for incomes below $60k
$90 in free travel (simple points)
5x earn on groceries & no FX fee

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite

Best for cashback ($60k income)
$200 in free credit (10% on $2K)
4% earn on groceries & 2% on gas

American Express Gold Rewards

Best for incomes below $60k
$240 in free travel (airline points)
Trip interruption insurance only

*conditions apply

Call your card insurance (in this case, the one you used to pay for the flight), and since a government advisory has been issued, you are likely covered to buy a one-way flight back home, often up to $1,500.

If you get their authorization, simply buy a flight and keep the documents they ask for, and voila. You get back home, and as an added bonus, you get to earn points for the purchase! Send them the documents and let the insurers deal with the details and deal with talking to the airline.

It’s one of the only types of credit card insurance I haven’t tried yet, and maybe I’ll get to do so now since Air Canada’s Aeroplan does not answer the phone, which is not surprising since sadly they didn’t really answer the phone before COVID-19 anyway.

We’ll have a post to try and help if you are stuck. Leave a comment below.

If you need emergency consular assistance, here is the contact information:

  • Email: sos@international.gc.ca
  • Telephone: 613-996-8885
  • SMS: 613-209-1233

Thursday morning, I’ll share a post with tips on how to find flights depending on where you’re stuck. Please comment below to let us know where you are stuck so we can try and help you if you’re in this situation.

 

If Your Trip Is In The Next 3 Days

Again, contact your booking site or airline. We’ll share a post with every airline’s policy very soon, but almost all of them have instituted flexible change policies for travel in March.

So you might get a full refund in cash. If they only offer a voucher or a credit for future use, which they often try to do, you can often negotiate to get cash if they’ve canceled your original flight.

You can check to see if you can do the refund/changes online on your own. Some allow this.

But to make sure to get cash, call your card insurer and use your trip cancelation insurance instead.

If you skipped the previous section because you’re not traveling now, I’ll repost these 2 paragraphs.

That’s why we keep telling you, since the very moment we launched in 2017, that paying for a flight with anything other than a good travel credit card is the biggest mistake you can make, and getting one is the easiest way to make your travels smoother. There are some for all levels of income. 

Not only do these cards give you hundreds worth of free travel when you get them, but many of the good ones also offer plenty of free insurance coverage. I use the various insurance benefits every year and save hundreds of dollars! We’ll have more content about how cards work during this forced travel break so you can put this time to good use.

Best Cards For Trip Cancelation / Trip Interruption Insurance

Scotia Passport Visa Infinite

Best for incomes over $60k
$171 in free travel (simple points)
Get 6 lounge passes & no FX Fee

Scotiabank Gold

Simplest for incomes below $60k
$90 in free travel (simple points)
5x earn on groceries & no FX fee

Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite

Best for cashback ($60k income)
$200 in free credit (10% on $2K)
4% earn on groceries & 2% on gas

American Express Gold Rewards

Best for incomes below $60k
$240 in free travel (airline points)
Trip interruption insurance only

*conditions apply

Yes, again, if you paid with a good travel credit card, it’s preferable to use that. Not only will they likely answer the phone more quickly than airlines will, but they will also refund you in cash, instead of having a voucher that is much more restrictive. Cash is king.

Your trip cancelation insurance will refund any nonrefundable travel expense, now that the government has issued a travel advisory. I’ve used this before, and it’s very painless; I’ll share a detailed post soon.

 

If Your Trip Is In More Than 3 Days

Keep calm. Wait. And most importantly, do not call.

Thank you, it’s that simple. Thousands of people are trying to fix urgent travel plans; there is no need to make life harder for them. And there’s no benefit to you either, so just wait it out a bit.

If your trip is in March, call 3 days ahead or check to see if you can do the refund/changes online on your own. Some allow this.

If your trip is further away, it’s too early to know what the situation will be like. Take a step back—more details in tomorrow’s post.

 

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Summary

What a nightmare situation this is for us travelers. To cancel, you should try to contact your airline or booking site, but the best shortcut is through your credit card (or regular) travel insurance. But not if your trip is weeks away. In that case, wait a bit, please.

Andrew D'Amours

Andrew is the co-founder of Flytrippers. He is passionate about traveling the world but also, as a former management consultant, about the travel industry itself. He shares his experiences to help you save money on travel. As a very cost-conscious traveler, he loves finding deals and getting free travel thanks to travel rewards points... to help him visit every country in the world (current count: 61/193 Countries, 46/50 US States & 9/10 Canadian Provinces).

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