What to Do if Coronavirus Cancelled Your Vacation

Written By Sarah Winfrey
Last updated May 4, 2020

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May 4, 2020

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

If you have canceled a vacation due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, you’re not alone. Even when you know you’re making the right choice, it’s frustrating to miss a trip you’ve been counting on and annoying to track down cancellation policies, refunds, and more. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you recoup as many of your costs as possible.

Start by making a list of everyone you’ve paid money to for your trip. Most people think of airlines and hotels right away, but there are some other travel options you might have paid for or at least put down a deposit on. Think about:

  • Airlines
  • Trains
  • Car rentals
  • Bus tickets
  • Scheduled pickups and dropoffs or other transportation
  • Travel cards you’ve purchased, whether for metro systems, bus lines, or trains
  • Tours you’ve booked
  • Hotels
  • Air BnBs or other local accommodations
  • Phone service packages you have purchased or upgraded for your trip

If you’re not sure whether your list is comprehensive, look back through emails to make sure you have everything covered.

Next, you’ll want to check out the Coronavirus or Covid-19 travel compensation plans that each of these entities has in place. These are changing rapidly right now, so you’ll want to look up the policy right before you approach the company so you have the most up-to-date information.

Long Wait Times

When you call the company, get ready for long hold times, especially with airlines. If you scheduled travel on an international carrier, you may have to wait even longer. Some travelers are reporting hold times of more than 18 hours before they were able to get through!

Some companies require you to call within a certain number of hours after the cancelation or before the event (flight, tour, etc.) was scheduled to take place. Make sure you take screenshots of your phone when you’re making the calls so you can prove, if you need to, that you attempted to follow their policy. Even if you don’t get through in the required window, you may be able to use these to still get your refund.

A full refund is probably the best option right now since we don’t know how long Covid-19 will be a factor affecting travel

If you absolutely cannot get a refund, try to get equivalent credit with the company. You may prefer to ask for a dollar-for-dollar credit, so you have the same amount to spend with them later. If you plan to take the same trip at a later date, you may ask if you can simply reschedule the same service at a later date for the price you’ve already paid, no matter how much it costs at the time of rescheduling.


If the company insists on credit rather than a refund, ask them what their policies are if you cannot reschedule within their window due to further Covid-19 outbreaks. Make sure that you will get to use that credit no matter what, even if it takes a couple of years.

Keep Track of Specifics

Make sure you note the specifics of each refund or credit that you get. You may get a refund from the airline within 2 weeks, have 6 months to reschedule a tour, and have to call back about your airport transfer within 2 days of when it was originally supposed to take place. Keep track of all of this so you don’t miss out on anything.

If you can’t get a refund directly from the company you scheduled travel services with and you think they are not acting in good faith, consider approaching your credit card and asking for a chargeback. If this goes through, your card will give you your money back and try to collect it from the other company themselves.

Building a Case

In order to get a chargeback to work, you’ll need to make a case for why they should be giving you a full refund. Depending on the credit card company and your history with them, you may need to say more than, “I had to cancel my trip due to coronavirus and they won’t give me my money back.” Be ready to quote the company’s refund policy or explain the situation and why you believe you should get your money back.

You may also have to wait up to a week to hear back about your chargeback. This can be a long process and some companies are more hesitant to give you your money back than others are.

Canceling trips isn’t fun, but it’s the best option during the Covid-19 crisis. Follow these steps, give the process some time, and you shouldn’t have to lose money on your trip.

About the Author

Sarah Winfrey

Sarah Winfrey is a writer by both passion and trade. She'll tell you she's frugal by nature but she doesn't actually know if that's true. What she does know is that living simply and saving money has paid off in her life, over and over again. When she's not working, she loves reading everything she can get her hands on, stand-up paddleboarding, and teaching her dog to act like a lady.

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