Unexpected travel changes and cancellations. There’ve been many as a result of the global COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Colleges and universities are canceling or postponing trips abroad as a precautionary measure, leaving some people scrambling for alternate plans and refunds.
Aridyan Perez is one student affected. Modern Media Group at Central Connecticut State University was scheduled to go to Italy on March 13. Instead, the trip was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“I am absolutely devastated,” said Perez. “Traveling is something that I’ve always wanted to do and I’ve never been out of the country before and this was like my first to opportunity and to go.”
Perez says her out of pocket expense, about $1,800, was reimbursed. However, $2,000 in scholarship money, specifically tied to the trip, could be in jeopardy of being lost.
She is not the only student feeling financial frustration. Hunter Margotto, was scheduled to visit Italy in April with Conard High School. When the trip was canceled, Margotto says the tour company only offered a voucher and no true refund.
“My family bought the travel insurance,” said Margotto. “You’d think if something like this happened, we would get our money back, there is no money back whatsoever.”
Travel insurance is complicated. AAA Travel says it’s important to know your policy.
“You have to understand what your policy says. What it covers and what it doesn’t cover,” explains AAA spokesperson Amy Parmenter.
The Department of Consumer Protection says if you do have a problem with a previously booked trip, first, contact the school coordinating the event or the tour company organizing travel.
“Companies will often try to get you at least a travel voucher or your money back in some situations because they want to stay in business,” said Lora Rae Anderson of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection
If, after calling the school or tour company, you still feel like you’re not being fairly treated, then it would be appropriate to contact DCP.
People are still planning international travel. AAA Travel is among many organizations monitoring the situation. As airlines, hotels, cruise lines and tour operators alter itineraries and adjust policies in response to the outbreak, AAA advises using a professional travel consultant.
They know those options better than anyone out there,” said Parmenter. “Sometimes those options can be changing from hour to hour.”
For travel guidance in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, AAA offers up to date advisories on its website.