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Still on the fence - COVID-19

Our family of 4 is scheduled to leave on the 22nd of March. I am still undecided on whether to cancel or not, seems like the situation changes daily. We are spending approximately 5 days in Bayeux, and 6 days in Paris.

Delta's policy for tickets purchased before March 1, 2020:
Impacted Travel Date(s): March 1, 2020 - March 31, 2020
Ticket Must Be Issued On/Before: May 31, 2020
Rebooked Travel Must Begin No Later Than: May 31, 2020

I don't see this as much of a generous offer; I don't have confidence we'll know more or the virus will be better controlled by May 31.

I haven't looked in to the ancellation fees, if any for 2 AirBNBs, 1 hotel, and the tour guide. My hope is that if we do try to cancel due to COVID 19 concerns, they'd do a full refund, or let us reschedule w/o fees.

Of course, no amount of money is worth the life of my loved ones.

We are all in reasonably good health. Husband and I in our late 50s, but son has Type 1 Diabetes (well managed).

I have 3 major concerns:
1. Someone getting sick in France; my assumption is health care is good in France; but I have no idea how our health insurance will work.

2. Getting stuck in France; I'm not sure I could afford a hotel bill for an extended period of time.
3. The Louvre seems like it is periodically closing for staff concerns. I'd be ok if we couldn't get to the Louvre, but if lots of museums, attractions shops, transportation, local cafes start closing; it kind of defeats the reason to go to France.

A positive I've thought of:
We might have the place to ourselves if they are experiencing a decline in tourism!

Are there other things I should be weighing?

Wish I had a crystal ball.

Thanks, Cindy

Posted by
7808 posts

The health insurance probably would not do any good but now you know instead of paying for it blindly you should read what it covers. Maybe If you are stuck in France you would probably be quarantined not paying for a hotel.

Posted by
14 posts

I am looking at our travel policy, on hold now for a long time with Allianz. But I notice this: in the COVID-19 blurb.

Many travel protection plans exclude losses caused directly or indirectly by an Epidemic.

Posted by
7260 posts

Quote: Of course, no amount of money is worth the life of my loved ones.

You have a sensible list of concerns in your OP. You might wish to reflect on the certainty that there will be tens of thousands (if not many, many more) cases of COVID-19 in the United States of America by the end of March. It doesn't matter who is president or who controls congress. It's a medical certainty. Medical care in France is just as high quality in the US, by some measures, higher quality.

So the safety of your family is not materially different in France than at home. But fear of the unknown is already rampant. You may wish to collect more factual data in planning your decisions.

Posted by
11130 posts

We have had excellent medical care in France several times. And it was inexpensive compared to the US.
With our US medical insurance, I could send the claims for the French medical costs to them.

Posted by
854 posts

Travel is supposed to be fun. Relaxing. An opportunity to share exciting things with your family. I suggest you look at this whole thing as a costly auto accident with everyone healthy but the favorite family car totaled and not fully covered by insurance. You will lose your deductible. You will be covered for a reduced value of the used car, which won't cover the cost of a new one. But you will get a new family car next year.

Posted by
2700 posts

France is experiencing a rapid growth in cases. While health care there is good no country has the resources to deal with some of the worst projections for critical care needs, US included. If those projections play out, I’d much rather be at home to deal with it. Can your son access additional insulin in France if you are quarantined?

Posted by
68 posts

My husband was hospitalized in Paris 15 years ago. American Hospital in Paris, I might add and that was my choice to get him there.
The hospital would not release him until the bill was paid, so make sure you have a large credit limit on your credit card. We had Travel Guard insurance, which covered what our primary health insurance did not cover. Our primary insurance covered 80% of our bill as the hospital was "Out Of Network". Neither insurance companies paid the hospital upon check out, they reimbursed us after much paper work. Also, I had to pay for my additional stay at the hotel including expenses ie food, transportation and phone calls.
My husband's primary care Doctor said "good thing he was in Western Europe"

I would give a call to your health insurance company and find out what they cover out of the country. Please note that the American Hospital in Paris is a private hospital, if I would have sent him to a public hospital the cost difference would have been less, but I would have been at the mercy of someone speaking English.

I like you have a trip scheduled in April for Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Germany and on the fence as well!

Posted by
2542 posts

Heath insurance in France is excellent and not nearly as expensive as it is in the USA. Doctor visits are typically 30€ to 35€, probably not a lot more than what may in the US pay for visits with insurance. For emergencies, SOS Médecins will dispatch a doctor to you at your hotel room for under 100€.

Depending upon why you are there, many hospitals will bill you after you leave. One exception is the American Hospital which has excellent care but is much more expensive than almost anywhere else offering the same services.

You should know what insurance you have and what it covers. Getting sick while travelling presents special concerns but, a potentially more terrifying situation would be a foreigner visiting the USA requiring medical care.

Posted by
1 posts

Cindy -

We were in a similar situation with a trip planned for early April to France and Amsterdam. We considered many of the same things you are thinking of - in the end it is a personal decision.

For us, I wasn't as concerned about catching the virus, but more concerned about the response to the virus and impact on travel, attractions, etc. As a physician, I feel comfortable about the health care in France but the real wild card for us was the uncertainty of the government's response as it spreads. We had no interest in navigating any possible closures of sites or quarantines, etc.

We canceled our trip since it was not worth the risk and felt we would not be able to truly enjoy it if we were spending energy trying to flex to changing situations. Again, we know ourselves and realize rescheduling in the future will allow us to relax during the trip.

Our delta flights will be given back as a credit that can be rebooked with a fee by July 21 (which is a year from the date I originally booked the flight). We will likely use the credit for US trips; and the hotels, etc. were able to be canceled without fees. Overall, a small loss which made the decision even easier.

Good luck!

Posted by
3992 posts

Someone getting sick in France; my assumption is health care is good
in France; but I have no idea how our health insurance will work.

Talked to Allianz. Clear cut. Anything related to COVID-19 is not
covered. Ouch.

Cindy, call back your insurance company and speak with a supervisor. Reading your thread, I just called mine about my trip to Switzerland next month. I recommend a supervisor because when I spoke with an agent at my insurance company, she said of course they have to cover the coronavirus. Just double check.

You may find that there is coverage. For me, if I am found to have coronavirus and I am in a hospital isolated for how many weeks it takes, I will have to pay the entire bill but then when I get home, I will submit the bill to my insurance company and they will reimburse me entirely and just charge me as if it were an emergency plus isolation at an in-network hospital at home which is just 2 small copayments with no deductibles and no coinsurance. The agent also reassured me that the hospital bill won’t nearly be as expensive as it is in the US.

Posted by
14 posts

I will call back thank you.

My health insurer said they will reimburse at 40%, no out of pocket maximum. I will ask for a supervisor because I was surprised the out of pocket maximum won't kick in.

Posted by
14 posts

Thank you! I called my health insurer carrier again, and was told that the out of pocket maximum does in fact kick in, and then it's covered at 100%. And like you said, for life saving emergencies the coverage is at a much higher rate.

OK, that gives me more information so we can make a risk/reward decision.


Posted by
8 posts

My family has plans to leave next weekend for England and France for a total of 10 days. As of now, I’m still planning on going. The odds of me getting the virus, when combined with the odds of having a severe case, mean that I’m not worried about contracting it. I am, as others have said, concerned about governmental reaction shutting down places I want to visit. If by next Wednesday (the last day I can cancel my Airbnb and get some refund), the governments of the UK or France have shut down tourism, I’ll bail. As of now, I don’t think that’s likely.

I also recognize that after I get to England that things could shut down France, so I have an alternative plan if things don't go as expected. Biggest inconvenience would definitely be putting put under quarantine. That's a risk, but one that I'm willing to deal with right now. My family doesn't have much flexibility on time because of work schedules and is a trip we've been working towards for several years. If we don't go now, we won't go. So again, unless everything will be shut down, I'm planning on going. But it's definitely a personal decision that you should make and evaluate the risks of going with the rewards of going.

Posted by
3961 posts

Hi Cindy,
First of all thanks for your thread and helpful resources that followed. This will help many of us. As a healthcare provider I would also agree with the valid points presented by Rich. Coming from a health perspective that you mentioned have you considered consulting with your son's provider for risk assessment? It's a tough decision and we may need to make some difficult choices soon as well. As others remarked, it is a personal decision and being well informed will bring your best decision for your family. I wish you all the best.

Posted by
2073 posts

I don’t have specifics, but saw a chyron pop up on cable that Lufthansa grounded planes ( don’t know where) and United is canceling some domestic flights.

Posted by
16 posts

We are in a similar situation, leaving for Budapest on 3/20 and then a few days in Paris on 3/25. We need to cancel next week if we want to recoup any of our Airbnb cost in Hungary. Flights will most likely be a loss. At this point we're planning to go, enjoy Budapest, and make an on the ground decision for Paris. We'll come up with a Plan B if Paris is mostly shut down or unsafe. Of course this could all change over the next two weeks, and that's what is so frustrating.

Posted by
6 posts

Diane, I saw the news about cancelled flights. My understanding was that the flights you mentioned were cancelled due to lack of travelers. My co-worker left DC for Europe today. He sent a picture of the plane with about 70% of the seats empty.

I also saw a video on YouTube filmed on Wednesday at the Louvre. It was so empty that the person making a film had to ask a security guard if they were open. The Louvre in fact was open, but it was deserted.

Posted by
2073 posts

Steve, I’ve seen nothing since the quick blip across the screen this morning. I’m nursing a terrible cold I contracted while on vacation in Mexico. I’m isolated to a bedroom in my house with instructions from hubby to not come out. I imagine more flights will be canceled once more testing is done resulting in more confirmed cases.
Did you see the reasons for Lufthansa?

Posted by
10176 posts

We’re in Paris now. Everything is open. We went to the Louvre last night. Crowds are fewer. Life is continuing as usual. Our precautions: hand washing and avoiding crowded restaurants in favor of ones with a lot of open tables.

Airlines are reducing the number of flights to most countries due to the lack of demand.
I had three seats to stretch out and sleep, which hasn’t happened since right after 9/11.

If we rely only on media reports, we won’t leave the house for the next few years.

Here’s a quote I picked up from the NYTimes “ The primary way we think about risk is through our gut feelings,” said Paul Slovic, professor of psychology at the University of Oregon who is also president of Decision Research. “The modern way to deal with risk is through science and statistics. We can think that way, but it’s hard to do.”

Posted by
1335 posts

Bets, enjoy Paris and her splendeur. Tell her I’ll be there the 27th.

Posted by
10176 posts

Thanks Alexander. But I don't want to paint a totally rosey picture. After 3 days, I can say the metro had fewer riders than usual. Also,right now I'm sitting in the waiting area at Orly waiting for a air-controller-strike-delayed plane to board. Planes are leaving for Rome and Naples, Italy, a country we are discouraged from entering. We're lucky to be seated almost six feet from others, but in a crowded situation, it's stressful. People walk around each other, there's one N95 mask and a few paper masks. But not being in control of the space is stressful. Keep that in mind, too.

Posted by
1335 posts

Bets, in that case do you recommend that I not go? I am also scheduled to be in Paris in June. I have been considering going to Quebec City instead - my other favorite city .

Posted by
10176 posts

I suggest avoiding crowded transport: for example, renting a car unless you are taking a TER (train) during low volume hours. You can control or avoid a lot of overcrowded spaces but not a TGV or small crowded plane on a Friday or Sunday. Just something to consider.

Edit: BTW, we’ve decided to return a bit earlier than planned. Although we’re French citizens, we need to wait this out in our own house and not a rental.

Posted by
693 posts

Cindy, we had a trip scheduled to England and Spain departing April 18. My son is medically high risk for travel right now.

I called Delta this afternoon to reschedule our flights to end of summer when things will hopefully be calmer and safer. Even though we don’t qualify for the listed change fee waiver situations (we are not traveling to Italy, we are not traveling in March), the Delta agent promptly gave me a travel voucher equal to the entire original price of our tickets, no change fees subtracted, because of the medical necessity of rescheduling. The voucher is good for travel 1 year from the date of purchase of the original ticket. Meaning, in my case, we could have rescheduled our flights to as late as December 2020.

I was asked to provide a physician contact for Delta’s records; I did not need to provide documentation. The whole phone call was about 10 minutes.

If your son’s health care provider feels that he would be safer not traveling this month, you might be able to reschedule your flights to a later date than May.

Just giving you some other options as you make your decision.

Good luck, and I hope it all works out for you.

Posted by
9549 posts

Glad that Delta did the right thing for you, Deb. That has to be a huge weight off your shoulders.

Posted by
1335 posts

I made the mistake of booking a package deal through Priceline which is great when the trip goes forward but a pain when it doesn't. My airfare funds (only about 400$ fortunately) are still tied up but hotel is being returned.