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Don't ask for refunds!

I realise this is a provocative statement as there are probably many of you who have paid a lot of money for trips you will not be able to enjoy. But, this situation is a disaster for every company in the travel business. The large airlines and big hotel chains will probably survive one way or the other. But for those of you who have made reservations with smaller companies, ask if you can rebook or get a voucher instead. And if they insist that not refundable means not refundable, don't complain and try to get them to bend their rules since these are extra ordinary times. The times certainly are extraordinary, but smaller companies are fighting for their survival and many can't afford to be generous. I have a friend that runs a guesthouse/B&B/small hotel/whatever you want to call it with her husband and she wrote a very heartfelt post on Facebook a couple of days ago about the situation. So please think twice before you ask for a refund!

And now for a bit of shameless advertising:
I usually don't do this, but desperate times and so on. Have you ever thought it might be nice to visit a charming small town without having to deal with the crowds in Hallstatt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber or Český Krumlov? Then why not visit Vadstena, a small and very charming on the Swedish countryside. It is a popular destination for Swedes but hasn't been discovered by the large international crowds. Located on the eastern shore of Vättern, Sweden's second largest lake, it offers beautiful surroundings. Here you will also find a well preserved old town with among other buildings Sweden's oldest preserved town hall, built in the early 15 century. But the most well known buildings are probably the impressive renaissance castle and the monastery (including the monastery church). So why not stop by next time you are in Europe? And if you want to help my friend, consider staying a night or two at Pensionat Solgården.

Posted by
5648 posts

This situation is clearly having an economic effect on everyone, in addition to medical, emotional, lifestyle, etc.

The destination suggestion sounds wonderful. It’s not going to be doable right now, but Vadstena’s now on the “possibilities” list! Hoping that Norwegian is still in business, flying from Denver. In the meantime, we’ve still got our 15-year-old SAAB as a kind-of Swedish connection. Best of luck to your B&B friend and to everyone there!

Posted by
2333 posts

We need to ask how to work together. I appreciate your pitch. Some will be annoyed. Let's keep our annoyance in check, and allow a little variance in our rules.

Posted by
13701 posts

Vadstena sounds lovely, Badger, and you are a good friend to your friend. :O)

If someone can shift their trip to a different month/year and the hotel/BB agrees to credit that future stay, that's absolutely the best solution. We've seen all sorts of comments on the forum from travelers who've happily been able to do that very thing!

The trouble is that some other travelers are going to be temporarily laid off from their jobs, possibly for quite a long time, or lose them all together. Just like those small businesses, they're going to need the $$ to help make ends meet over an undetermined amount of time, and they won't be able to afford a trip in the foreseeable future. If they'd booked non-refundable rates, then I do think it's fair not to expect a refund (although one could politely ask) but it's understandable that if their booking allows otherwise, people who really NEED the refund should not feel it's miserly to request it.

Unfortunately, this awful situation is going to hurt a whole lot of nice folks in too many ways. So sad... : O(

Posted by
5759 posts

Depends on who you are asking.

I just had to cancel some domestic flights that I booked for my niece (a high school spring break trip for her to come visit us), domestic flights on American Airlines. I had no regrets asking them for a full refund. To their credit, they agreed to a refund rather than future credit (to my surprise). If it were a small local operation, I'd feel differently. And FWIW, Vadstena sounds nice.

Posted by
1 posts

I have empathy for all those people who are ill, for health care workers, for families who have lost loved ones, for retirees whose incomes are eroding and yes for the small buisiness owner. Yes we have paid a lot of money for a trip we will not be able to enjoy. Extend emphathy all around. Individuals are also financially impacted by the Coronoviris as well as tour operators. We have lost 1/3 of our investments to date with more to come and we are retired. That means we have no way to earn new monies. No One person/business is more important than the other.

We booked a tour with a Rick Steves recommened operator "Paris Webservices" . What we bought is refundable. This ticket contain their cacellation policy and details a 5% cancellation fee that we qualify for now. That cancellation fee rises considerably as we get closer to the date until 3 days before the date when the refund is zero. Fine but when I contacted Paris Webservices they say they are closed until the end of April and will not refund until they reopen. At the same time I went on their website and went through the steps to book a tour and they are ready to accept money today. The public needs to know that they will take your money but they are not honoring their refund policy. Paris Webservices 'office' that accepts Euros is open and fully opeational but their 'office' that sends refunds is closed and in my most recent correspondence with them they are not saying how long they will be closed.

The public needs to know that reading the cancellation policy is not enough. Do not book with Paris Webservices.

Posted by
727 posts

When it comes to most airlines, it seems they have done so much to destroy any goodwill they had with the traveling public, that I have zero problem asking for a refund. Between suffocating leg room, ridiculous baggage fees, exorbitant itinerary change fees, tiny bathrooms, loss of food service, unclean planes and a host of other declines in service, the airlines deserve all the pain that's being inflicted on them. But, of course, the federal government will bail them out. That's probably in the long term best interests of the country. But, good lord, can we put some conditions on the bail out such that passengers aren't continually getting screwed by airline management decisions? Passenger Bill of Rights with teeth?

Posted by
10121 posts

I agree 100%. Badger. Non-refundable is, to me, a contract, and I do not expect anything other than for both parties to abide by the terms. And I'd love to get back to Sweden, so the recommendation is bookmarked!

Posted by
3357 posts

Vadstena sounds lovely, Badger, and you are a good friend to your
friend. :O)

Thank you!

I will not blame anyone that asks for a refund, as there are probably many here that have been hit by the situation as well. There are only losers now unfortunately, not even the toilet paper manufacturers are happy. And yes, there is a big difference between asking for a refund from a major airline and from a small family owned hotel.

Between suffocating leg room, ridiculous baggage fees, exorbitant
itinerary change fees, tiny bathrooms, loss of food service, unclean
planes and a host of other declines in service, the airlines deserve
all the pain that's being inflicted on them.

I have to comment on this. While I in general agree with you, it is what people in general are asking for. My experience from this and other fora, as well as real life, is that people in general will book the cheapest tickets and that offering better service or better legroom doesn't make you any money, as few are willing to pay extra for that.

Posted by
727 posts

"While I in general agree with you, it is what people in general are asking for."

Says who? The airlines? Southwest provides a decent alternative, though they too have reduced legroom. And those deadly Max-8's have bathrooms so small you can't turn around. I hope they stay grounded.

Posted by
1019 posts

Says who? The airlines?

Nope, says the flying public as a whole. As has been oft-stated, "we" (the flying public) have repeatedly and loudly told the airlines what we want by how we spend our money with them. If the lowest ticket price wasn't the most important--quite often, sole--decisive factor for most people who buy tickets, the airlines would respond by giving us more space and amenities. We don't have to guess at this...American tried giving more leg room in all their economy cabins and charging a bit more ("more room in coach"). It failed miserably, while the Spirit airlines of the world (worst legroom and amenities) are the most profitable. We can call them big bad businesses or say there has been too much conglomeration, but we could change this if we changed our buying patterns.

Posted by
3083 posts

I agree with Eric from Dana Point. Prior to the current airline catastrophe, Sprint was the fastest growing airline in the US. Spirit's seat pitch is generally 28" -- the lowest in the industry. But they are/were cheap! And people flocked to that.

Posted by
5789 posts

As Eric observes, the airlines are selling us what the flying public wants, cheap seats.

I don't think very many of us would want to go back to the regulated days when knee room was adequate and fares were refundable but prices high. My recollection was transcon non-stop fares were pussing four digits, but were refundable and we could make changes without penalty. If our flight was delayed, we could bring our paper ticket to a competitor that flew the same route and be rebooked on the competitor's flight. Those were the days. Fortunately the company bought the tickets and passed the cost on to our clients. And we had knee room.

Posted by
117 posts

My experience so far... American refunded full fair via online. I didn't buy the cheapest seat and bought through the airline. I cancelled my Southwest flight online with no hassles, just gave me a credit. Tap airlines Portugal, I doubt I will see anything there. Half the hotels said they would give us a refund and half already credited us. The worst news I'm hearing is through Orbitz and Expedia. I've had my turn with Expedia 2 years ago, never again at any price. Back to the point, all the airlines and hotels that treated me well, I will do business with again regardless of competitive price.

Posted by
1959 posts

What about the Average Joe or Jane Blow who has been saving for years for their once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe? Are they supposed to just deal with it? Be understanding? Not everyone has the ability to travel overseas, or anywhere, with any frequency and most of the time not at all.

By not asking for refunds, are we only hurting the businesses, or perhaps denying someone a chance to travel at a later date?

Posted by
99 posts

We had reservations at a small family owned b&b in Italy for mid-March that I cancelled in late Feb. I requested a refund and got it but the owner asked if I would take a credit for a future visit instead.

I wish I had taken the credit. I really wish I could go back and tell her we would still love to stay at her lovely little B&B in the future.

Posted by
13727 posts

I am very much in the get a voucher if you can camp, and in the non refundable means just that camp. If you get a refund anyway, show humility and appreciation.

Posted by
23 posts

Edgar wrote>>>>>>>As Eric observes, the airlines are selling us what the flying public wants, cheap seats.
I don't think very many of us would want to go back to the regulated days when knee room was adequate and fares were refundable but prices high. My recollection was transcon non-stop fares were pussing four digits, but were refundable and we could make changes without penalty. If our flight was delayed, we could bring our paper ticket to a competitor that flew the same route and be rebooked on the competitor's flight. Those were the days. Fortunately the company bought the tickets and passed the cost on to our clients. And we had knee room.

Not to mention, the airline industry has used as much as 96 percent of their free cash flow to engage share buy-back programs. Share buy-back programs are a backdoor scam to inflate the managerial hireracy's wage and compensation packages.

Honestly folks, let the airline industry face down the full furry of the true free market. They truly don't deserve a bailout. I can just about guarantee that many of these bailout programs will be used to reward management with bonuses and excess pay, on the tax payer's dime.

Posted by
13727 posts

Share buy-back programs are a backdoor scam to inflate the managerial
hireracy's wage and compensation packages.

I think it was an attempt to offset annual profit drops (down to 5% more or less in 2019) so they would remain viable.

Posted by
1264 posts

A situation like this is one reason why I always urge people to be careful in booking too far out in advance , especially if booking non refundable. Trust me, I get the excitement and eagerness, especially if it’s a first trip.

I realise a lot of smaller places are going to take a beating and many won’t survive. But letting them hold onto your money with credit towards the futures isn’t the tactic I’d take. If the B&B can’t survive then your credit is worthless. If they go through a formal bankruptcy, they may not even be able to refund the money depending on the laws of that country regarding payment of creditors.

Sorry for being Debbie Downer, but I’d cancel anything coming up soon and get all the refunds you can and I’d be looking to cancel things far off in the future if they’re prepaid.

Posted by
3255 posts

If we expect refundable to mean refundable, we also have to expect nonrefundable to mean nonrefundable. But that's easy for me to say since I only had one nonrefundable hotel night. My heart bleeds for the people who have saved for years for a dream trip and now are losing their money.

Posted by
1240 posts

I have plenty of empathy for B&B and small hotel owners but this crisis will affect most of us financially. If you are flexible with your time and have the financial wherewithal, by all means apply your refund to a future trip. It’s your money and decision, nobody elses.

“smaller companies are fighting for their survival and many can't afford to be generous.” - Unfortunately the same applies to most of the travelling public, the affording to be generous part at least.

Posted by
3083 posts

It's hard to make blanket statements. Everyone is in a unique situation, but to those who have the ability to "help out" small businesses during these difficult times, I say go for it. I offered to pay for the full reservation at one lodging establishment in Berlin where I had to cancel, but the owner declined any cancelation fee. I soon will cancel with a small Bavarian pension and a small Austrian pension for May stays; I booked directly with both, and both have cancellation policies that indicate that I must pay most of the reservation. It's okay. The rooms are inexpensive, and the money is a bigger deal for the owners than for me.

I realize that this is easier for me, a guy who absolutely loves his job and is well compensated for doing it, than it is for someone who has saved a lifetime for their one big trip abroad. I will add that I live a frugal life and am a chronic saver, so I don't throw around money for the sake of throwing around money, but in this case, it's nice to feel like I'm helping the small businesses with which I interact.

Posted by
13727 posts

You know what, my $500 reservation if refunded isnt going to change my life. After all how this affects me is how often I get to travel. How it affects the house keeper in the hotel is if she gets to eat or not. If they offer a refund, thanks, Ill take it. If not, l'm not bothered in the least. Will my contribution do some good? Here the Christians and the Jews agree .... Anyone want to guess?