Many of us are facing big disruption to our upcoming travel plans, as countries around the world close their borders or place severe limitations on tourists and travellers.
Personally speaking, I was due to travel today from the UK to India, to celebrate one of my parent’s 70th birthday - a big trip that was months in the planning and cost many thousands of pounds.
This week’s sudden announcement from the Indian government that already issued tourist visas would be cancelled with almost immediate effect brought our holiday to a dramatic and sudden halt.
Until the Indian government reverses its decision, its practically impossible for us to travel to India anytime soon (it is possible to approach your nearest Indian embassy if you have an urgent need for travel, though incoming passengers are now subject to quarantine on arrival in India).
Time to cancel...
After the initial disappointment came the task of cancelling our many hotel, flight and other travel bookings.
My first port of call was to Swiss, with whom we had booked our long-haul flights, and I was relieved that they immediately agreed to cancel our ticket, with a refund to follow.
A number of our hotel bookings were made with hotels.com with free cancellation, so it was straight forward to go on the website and cancel the stays without penalty.
Many travel plans, however, involve some kind of non-refundable reservations, which creates a lot of stress at times like this.
Recovering your losses
It may be possible to recover your losses via your travel insurance (I’ve been impressed with the service offered by my provider, American Express, in the past) but it’s always a good idea to first reach out to non-refundable service providers to see if they will show flexibility in allowing you to cancel.
I really appreciated the speedy response from Jude at the Old Harbour Hotel in Cochin, where we had planned to spend a night next weekend. Jude immediately responded to my email to request a refund and authorised booking.com to release the hold on my card, even though my booking was non-refundable.
Service like that in times of major disruption is impressive. Not only will we definitely return when we are able, but we now have a really great impression of the Old Harbour Hotel (an elegant old bungalow built in 1808) and the service it provides.
Similarly understanding was Sumeet Taneja and his team at the Taj Swarna in Amritsar, who allowed us to cancel our two-night stay.
Our biggest worry is about the Taj Palace & Tower in Mumbai, where we have more than £1,400 tied up in non-refundable bookings.
So far, we’ve been really grateful for the kindness and understanding shown by some of India’s top hotel brands, and we look forward to rescheduling as soon as possible.
How has coronavirus affected your travel plans and which brands have impressed you with their customer service during this stressful period?