Mistakes people make when they cancel a trip

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With all the unforeseen ebb and flow of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel plans are rarely set in stone these days. Having to cancel a trip is a much more common experience than before, and many companies have updated their policies to offer more flexible booking options.

However, the cancellation process is not always as straightforward as we would like it to be, and sometimes potential travelers end up losing money when their vacation plans derail. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

HuffPost asked travel experts to share common mistakes people make when canceling a trip, and their tips for avoiding those mistakes when changing your plans.

Taking an airline voucher

When you cancel a refundable booking or the airline cancels your flight, you may find that the easiest course is to get a credit from the airline for the amount you paid. But this is not your only option.

Airline vouchers can be great if you’re loyal to a specific carrier, but you can’t use them to pay your rent or your electric bill. Therefore, depending on your financial situation and your travel plans, it may be a mistake to accept this credit instead of requesting a cash refund.

“Under federal law, if the airline cancels or significantly modifies your trip for any reason and you decide not to travel with them, you will be charged a full refund in the original form of payment,” said Willis Orlando, senior specialist. of Scott’s product operations. Cheap flights. Therefore, if your situation meets the requirements, he added, “contact customer service for a cash refund instead of a voucher.”

Flight cancellation too early

“If you plan to cancel a flight voluntarily, you could pay to wait until the last minute,” said Zach Griff, a senior journalist for The Points Guy.

Since airlines are required to offer refunds to all passengers in the event of a significant delay or cancellation, you can also wait to see if your itinerary is affected in advance of the scheduled trip. When you know you won’t be taking a flight, set a calendar reminder to cancel it closer to your departure date.

“In the meantime, you should regularly check the status of your flight on the airline’s website to see if any changes have been made,” Orlando said. “These days, airlines are constantly changing their schedules, which means that flights are modified or canceled quite regularly.”

This is good news if you booked a non-refundable low rate option that could result in a cancellation penalty.

“When irregular transactions occur, you are entitled to a refund, even if you purchased a non-refundable ticket,” Griff said. “If you cancel your flight a week before departure and it is delayed for a few hours, you will be left with a future travel credit.”

Do not save your confirmation numbers

When canceling your flight, be sure to keep the booking and cancellation records until the entire process is complete.

This means that if you decide to accept a voucher for future travel, you will want to keep the information you need to use for a later flight. Loss of this data could result in long customer service retention times.

“Whenever you cancel a flight, save the confirmation number and 13-digit ticket number for future reference when you are ready to book your trip again,” Griff said. “It will save you a lot of time and make it easier for you to find your credit in the future.”

Save yourself a headache later by saving all your confirmation numbers, even after you cancel.

MoMo Productions via Getty Images

Save yourself a headache later by saving all your confirmation numbers, even after you cancel.

Do not review policies

Hopefully, when booking your trip, you pay attention to change or cancellation policies, as this can help you make decisions when travel plans are interrupted. But even if you didn’t do it at the time, it’s crucial to do it in the middle of the interruption.

Before you cancel a flight, accommodation, restaurant reservation, tour, or any other activity, take the time to read the policies. You may avoid commissions if you change your reservation instead of canceling it. Or you can transfer your reservation to someone else.

Bottom line: Whether you’re reviewing travel insurance, airline rules, or hotel policies, always read the fine print.

Canceling accommodation too late

Unlike flights, hotels and holiday rentals still have cancellation periods that travelers have to respect. Therefore, it is important to take care of your accommodation as soon as you know that your trip is underway to avoid losing money.

But even if you miss this window, you don’t lose all hope.

“When canceling a hotel reservation, always try to call the front desk, not the general 800 number, to see if the property can extend any courtesy,” Griff advised. “Sometimes you will find a manager or receptionist who can waive your cancellation fees or allow you to reschedule your stay at no extra cost.”

Not being prepared for cancellation

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s the importance of flexibility. Therefore, booking a trip without cancellation options without penalty is a mistake that you should strive to avoid in the planning process.

“I recommend buying airfare with no exchange rates and booking hotels that you can cancel without penalty 24 to 72 hours in advance,” said Laurie Garrow, a professor of civil engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. and president of the aerial research organization AGIFORS. “If you’re the type of person who cares about having COVID during a trip, I recommend buying travel insurance to help calm your mind.”

Don’t plan a new trip.

Canceling plans can be disappointing, especially if it’s a big vacation you’ve been waiting for.

But you can help deal with these emotions by thinking or even booking a trip for another time. Research in psychology over the years has suggested that the simple act of planning a trip can increase your mental health.

So take a moment to research other travel options and prepare the itinerary of your dreams. Also, if you’re just rescheduling your trip, this means you’ll have time to pick up some of these harder-to-get reservations that may not have been available with a shorter notice.

“I personally recommend at least planning,” Brian Kelly, founder and CEO of The Points Guy, told HuffPost earlier. “Just planning a trip releases endorphins, at least for me.”

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