COVID travel refunds

Maria’s bank has told her that credit card insurance won’t cover the pandemic. Is she still entitled to a refund?

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Q. Maria
I paid nearly $9000 in early November 2019, for my trip and my sister’s to Italy, Spain, France and Malta, for travel on 8/11/2020. As the countries we are visiting (package deal including: fares, cruise, land/bus tours, accommodations, etc), were, and still are, high-risk COVID-19 countries, my sister and I do not want to even leave Sydney for a couple of years. I have contacted my bank as my credit card came with complimentary travel insurance, but apparently pandemic cover is NOT included. What are my other options of getting a refund? As I paid in full way before COVID-19 was ever mentioned, and if the travel is cancelled, will I be able to get my funds back? I do not want the credit option, seeing that I will not be travelling any sooner.

A. Maria, I found myself in a similar situation this year. I had European travel booked before the news of the pandemic broke and was meant to have travelled in June.

Unfortunately, we booked with a combined method of using a travel agent for some parts of the trip and accommodation and direct with hotels for other parts of it.

It sounds like you might have booked all of your package deal through a travel agent, which is very good news when it comes to getting a full refund, because it means that you won’t have to do all of the legwork.

You will be entitled to a full refund, but the travel agent will have to chase all of the individual vendors and will not be able to process it until the money is returned to their accounts. This can take some time and can depend on the legislation regarding refunds that applies in each of the countries you were planning to visit.

The airlines have been making their way through the refund list at a pretty good pace, given the demand, so chances are you may see that money returned first.

Accommodation providers are probably the ones providing the biggest hold-up when it comes to refunds, but the benefit of using a travel agent and booking a package is that they have more power than you would in trying to renegotiate the refund yourself.

The good news is that you should be able to get a full refund for your travel, but you may have to be patient on how long it will take for the money to be back in your account.

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Written by Ben

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