Travel Refund Trouble? What to know.

Written by Chuck Nardozza, Managing Director of Travel Sales at AAA Travel Northeast

For many travelers, online travel sites have always offered clickable vacation packages with desirable display rates. This “self-serve” menu of travel hotspots can make planning your own vacation look as easy as a click and a credit card. But as many travelers are learning, when plans get impacted by misfortune, those glanced at terms and conditions can become a maze of red tape requirements to reimbursements and rescheduling.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought months of delays, cancellations, and reimbursements to the travel industry. No one has been left untouched, from the long hold lines to the infinite fine print. Credit card companies have pointed to website refund policies, and hoteliers have different approaches to refunds based on the various booking websites. It’s left many people wishing they had used a travel agent.

Here is what we can collectively learn from the past 6 months.

Documentation is everything

Unlike print brochures and paper receipts, a website’s terms and conditions can be changed in a moment. When you book travel, be sure to capture the terms and conditions that are applied to your reservation. Screenshots will help you remember, and in some unfortunate instances prove the rules as they were explained to you at the time of purchase.

Understand your Credit Card and Banking features

Banks and credit card companies will often advocate for their customers, but this requires clear communications and an understanding of their policies. Familiarize yourself with the terms of your contract and focus on language covering refunds and disputes.

You’ll need patience and determination

Hundreds of thousands of other travelers are enduring the same obstacles you are. While wait lines and response times are improving since March, with each new restriction or updated travel regulation another trip is impacted.

Getting a hotel refund after the coronavirus pandemic can be complicated. Add an online travel agency, and you may find complexities grow. Hotels have different refund policies. Some charge you upfront for the full amount, while others will bill you when you show up. But who’s refund policy is more important — the hotels or the sites? While the two providers figure that part out, you may be left waiting.

Travel Agents are important.

When you book through a travel agent, you have someone looking out for your behalf. AAA Travel agents are your representative and will review your situation and advocate for the solutions that best meet your expectations. Travel agents will navigate the red tape, hold lines, fine print, and more. AAA has global relationships with key partners and we will leverage those relationships to advocate for you.

When you plan through an agent, your excitement becomes their excitement. Agents may have been to the destination you are booking. Together you share in the wanderlust and come together to plan a trip that exceeds your expectations. But, when things go wrong, and plans fall apart, the stress and disappointment you feel can be overwhelming. Your travel agent is here to help carry that burden too. In good times and bad, your agent is here for you. This is something the “book it myself” crowd has unfortunately come to learn.

The best part of AAA Travel is that our services are part of your membership, so there are no “agent fees” hidden in any service. In fact, AAA works with various partners to offer exclusive AAA Member perks. These special pricing models and additional addons are designed to save you time and money. Our travel team is filled with knowledgeable agents who are travelers too. We can help you in person, over the phone, virtual or in one of our branches.

Whether you have booked plans, need help understanding policies and terms, or looking to learn about what future travel options are available, AAA Travel Agents are here to help. Contact your agent at 1-800-222-7448.