Getting Airline & Hotel Fees Waived In Light Of Recent Events?

Reader Rich asked the following question in the “Ask Lucky” forum:

Has anyone tried to cancel/reschedule/modify award trips (flights/hotels) to Europe due to the current situation?

Right now my biggest concern is Brussels since they are shutting down so many things including the metro (unless I’m mistaken). My trip is supposed to return from Brussels through LHR before getting back to the US.

Would hotels allow cancellation of award nights? I guess I would lose the free night that Club Carlson use to allow but get my points back? Would the airline let me return from another city instead of Brussels?

Just curious. The danger is actually only a secondary concern as opposed to everything getting shut down and making it difficult to do anything touristy.

This is an interesting question I’m guessing a lot of people are facing. I think Rich is taking a very reasonable approach here, since his concern isn’t so much with safety as it is with things being shut down. This is as a result of something outside of his control, but in fairness, also something outside the airlines’ and hotels’ control.

Surely there are plenty of other people less rational than Rich who will want to change their travel plans as well. After seeing what happened on recent Spirit and Southwest flights, something tells me there are people who are scared to leave their homes right now, let alone travel abroad.

TGV-Train-Brussels-Paris-02

With that in mind, what should you expect if you’re trying to change your travel plans?

What travel waivers are in place?

As of now, there are a few travel waivers in place for Paris specifically. Here’s Air France’s change policy, for example:

if you hold a ticket on a flight operated by Air France, issued on or before the November 14th, 2015, to and from continental France – Paris and all domestic airports,
from November 17 to 22, 2015 and if you wish to modify your journey, we propose you the following possibilities, valid until December 15, 2015:

– You may postpone your trip until December 15, 2015 included, at no extra cost in the same booking class.

– To postpone your trip beyond December 2015, to change your origin or destination or if you no longer wish to travel, you can benefit of non-refundable voucher valid one year on Air France or KLM or Hop.

Air-France-A380

Several other airlines have matched with a similar policy, though you’ll want to check with the individual airline for the exact details.

Similarly, we see some hotels waiving cancellation fees in Paris for the coming days and weeks, with the details varying hotel-to-hotel.

But what about beyond Paris and the immediate future?

While some airlines and hotels are waiving fees short term for travel to Paris, what about waiving fees for travel to other destinations? Of course the causes will vary, from fear of getting stuck like Rich above, to fear for safety, etc. I’m not saying I agree or disagree with any of these perspectives, but I’m just pointing out that travel will be a serious fear for some people in the near future.

So can you get airline/hotels fees waived, and if so, how? While there are no official waivers in place, I do think odds are pretty good of getting fees waived in the near future.

Hotels do have some discretion when it comes to cancelling even non-refundable stays, so while I’d by no means expect hotels to be willing to cancel stays, I’d bet some will, as a courtesy. For non-refundable stays I suspect some would be willing to apply the cost as a credit towards a future stay. Again, I wouldn’t count on it, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of hotels being flexible either.

Flights are a bit trickier. Are you likely to get your flight to Mykonos in December refunded because you’re scared to travel? I doubt it. At the same time, I do think you’ll likely have better luck getting the change fees waived on award tickets than getting revenue fares refunded.

It’s not that difficult for an airline agent to waive an award redeposit fee, so if you get a sympathetic agent I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of getting a fee waived. But I also wouldn’t count on it.

Bottom line

I’m going about my travel as usual, and I’m not recommending people cancel their trips. Quite the opposite, actually. There are some legitimate fears, and there’s some paranoia, but ultimately everyone has to decide for themselves what they’re comfortable with (well, there are limits).

While there are no travel waivers issued beyond Paris for the next few days, if you’re not comfortable traveling I wouldn’t be surprised if you can get a sympathetic airline or hotel associate who is willing to waive change or cancellation fees.

Have you changed your travel plans as a result of the events which have unfolded the past couple of weeks?

Comments

  1. Related to touristy things in the “locked-down” Brussels: within 30 minutes from Brussels, you can visit Antwerp, Gent, Leuven, … All nice cities full of beautifull “touristy” things. No need to cancel your visit to Belgium.

  2. I noticed this morning that SPG Paris properties have a cancellation/change waiver in place – it looks like they’re open to being flexible (and that Paris hotels have WIDE availability right now for C&P, point stays, etc.)

  3. I’m flying to Johannesburg from Phoenix over Christmas. Currently scheduled to fly PHX-LAX-CDG-JNB, including AF65. I asked Deta about a change in light of recent events, and they wouldn’t waive anything since it’s still considered a voluntary change.

  4. Yesterday I changed a Delta (on AF) return for the 30th to avoid a change in CDG and the change fee was waived. The fare difference was not. I should have made the change a day sooner as it would have been a bit cheaper with 7 day advane of departure. But I changed to a Delta flight back across the pond so…hello WiFi!!!!

  5. Ben –

    While I personally share your posture with respect to travel, i.e., I wouldn’t cancel trips myself, I think it’s unfair of you to characterize people who decide not to travel as being “less rational.”

    “Rational” is inherently a relative term, and neither you nor I have sufficient knowledge of either (a) the actual security situation in a given destination or (b) another person’s tolerance for risk, to make that sort of judgment.

    Their assessment(s) not to travel may be entirely reasonable because perhaps they were planning on traveling to Sana’a or they are the sole caretaker of a child with a severe disability. We don’t know.

    You and I allocate a relatively high value to travel for the sake of travel. I’m planning a status run to Asia next month, but my wife thinks I’m crazy – in her view the status isn’t worth even the most remote possibility of delay or worse in connection with the renewal of my status. I disagree – we’re still discussing the matter.

    All I’m saying is that it’s not necessarily irrational to cancel travel, but like everything else in life, you have to make a risk/benefit analysis of doing it. Your bottom line says that everyone has to make their own decision, but the prevailing theme of this piece is rather condescending towards people who come out differently than you in that analysis. That’s not fair to them.

    In other words, unless you’ve walked a mile in someone’s shoes…

    Greg

  6. I asked BA about cancelling my OpenSkies ticket to ORY over xmas and the agent basically told me to piss off.

  7. This is absolutely ridiculous to change flight when you’re just connecting in France.

    You guys will be perfectly safe in Paris or anywhere else in France. Let me tell you, that it’s not ISIS best interest to attack Paris yet again.

    The best way to fight terrorism is with no fear and being MORE open minded. If you come to my city (Toulouse-France). I’ll offer you guys chocolates (My business).

    Cheers and be safe 😉

  8. Anyone scared of travelling should be more like me – I booked MH to London after 370 because they were cheap, and I did fly on them. The day after MH17…

  9. People have a right to be concerned. There are organized radical entities (“radical Islamic terrorists”, if you will – sorry Barack & Hillary) who have issued and are issuing threats towards Western targets, including civilians and civilian targets. Today.

    In ostrich, Chamberlain-like fashion, ours and other Western governments have allowed them to flourish and expand with only the occasional bombing run for interruption, rather than extinguish them.

    So, you get situations like 9/11, Mali, and the Paris violence as a result.

    Yet, we really don’t know their plans and we have no idea if flying to Brussels today or tomorrow entails a greater personal risk than attending a sporting event, crowded restaurant, or shopping mall in a local, regional, national, or international destination.

    As a result, I plan to go about my business and not meaningfully alter my plans, including those for travel. Everyone needs to make their own personal assessments of risk and risk tolerance.

    I cannot control the targets of terrorists. However, in my control is my ability to vote for politicians who can admit and understand what the threat is and who pledge to act to eradicate it in a realistic and effective fashion.

  10. BA won’t budge. No changes/cancellations to Brussels unless you cough up the change/cancellation fees. No flexibility at all.

    They won’t change their policy until something happens. I asked them about being proactive and flexible but NO – go away. Eurostar, flexible and willing to waive fees.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *