It’s August, and even those with a stalwart work ethic have planned for a few days away. The family car is gassed up and ready to go. The reservations have been made and confirmed. Maybe you’ve put down a fair amount of cash on that dude ranch the kids have been nagging about, or you’re just plain old sick of staring at the four walls and need to get the heck out of the house. But now you are having second thoughts.
Stay or Chuck it all and Go?
The incessant drumbeat of the news is becoming difficult to ignore. First, there’s COVID. The rapid rise in Delta variant cases is troublesome. Much like a line of perfectly placed dominos, state governors are falling one by one, caving in to pressure and reinstating mask mandates. You ask yourself if you really want to stand at the blackjack table in Las Vegas for a few hours or plunk down a nice chunk of change for that fancy New York City restaurant while wearing a mask.
Still, other solid reasons are giving you pause. Videos of people being beaten unconscious in broad daylight, shootings outside ballparks – yes, the spike in U.S. crime is another factor to consider. If this isn’t enough to give you night sweats, there’s always the instability of the airlines. American and Southwest were in the news this week for canceling hundreds of flights. There are myriad reasons: bad weather, lack of available flight crews, and here’s one announced by Spirit Airlines: “We are experiencing operational challenges in some areas of our network,” whatever that means. According to FlightAware.com, 9% of all American Airlines trips were canceled last Tuesday. Spirit grounded 42% of its aircraft the same day.
Social media was awash with frustrated travelers sitting in airports for three, six, nine, and twelve hours at a clip. Put all this together, and you roll over at 2 a.m. and say to heck with it. Perhaps it would be easier – and a whole lot cheaper – to just cancel, cancel, cancel.
How hard is it to abandon your plans, and how much money will you lose? Great questions. The best course of action is to contact the airline or check its website before buying a ticket. If you’ve already booked the flight, it can be a bit complicated, but rest assure if you are willing to rebook within a certain period, most of the cancellation fees will be waived.
As for hotels, that’s a crapshoot – which is to say the odds are generally not in your favor. It’s doubtful any reason other than COVID is going to result in a refund. And in those cases, you or a member of your party would probably have to have been exposed to the virus.
Just a few days ago, a prominent Washington newspaper claimed that vacation plans were holding steady for this summer:
“’When we look at cancellation rates by trip start date, we can see an uptick in cancellations, but nothing that signals cause for alarm,’ says Kelly Soderlund, a spokeswoman for TripActions. The cancellation rate, which has hovered around 18 percent most of the summer, edged slightly higher, to 20 percent the week ended July 24 and 22 percent the week after, according to the company.”
Some may think, damn the torpedoes, they are going on vacation by hook or by crook. Others may feel it’s not worth the aggravation. But stay or go, the time to decide is sooner rather than later if you want to maximize your chances of getting a refund.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.
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