Hurricane Harvey and more recently Hurricane Irma have wreaked havoc in the US. Thousands of people have suffered losses of life and property, and more are uncertain of their safety in face of two of the deadliest storms in the history. A general sense of confusion prevails, and one of the parties to get most affected is the travellers with holiday plans to the affected regions.
If you too are among the aggrieved, here’s some advice you might find of relevance and interest:
Dealing with Airlines
The first thing you need to worry about while cancelling a travel plan is your flight tickets. Most airlines have a common policy in emergency situations for travellers flying to impact zones i.e. subject to availability; they allow passengers to book the same seat, in the same cabin with no extra cost up to a specified date. The downside of this ‘no-fee, short-term rebooking’ option is that the window given by most airlines for rebooking is rather small (usually a couple of weeks) and travellers are still wary of flying to the destinations only recently been hit by a disaster. The best thing to do for travellers, therefore, is to ask for a full cash refund from airlines and get flexibility back to manage their travel plans. However, it is wise to take the rebooking option for travellers who need to urgently fly to their destination and for those who had got great deals on their original flight tickets.
Dealing with Hotels
Unfortunately, a majority of hotels and other holiday home rental services are far more rigid than airlines when it comes to cancellation/refund, even during major natural calamities. While, most of accommodation providers will remind you of the ‘terms and conditions’ you signed at the time of booking and cut a sorry figure, there might be a few willing to negotiate. Depending upon how severe the natural calamity is, how committed a customer is to that hotel and how dedicated a hotel chain is to its CSR, some people may be able to extract a deal; nothing is guaranteed though. It mostly, however, helps to approach brands (especially renowned brands) on their social media platforms to motivate them toward taking a decision in your favour.
Dealing with Your Travel Insurance Company
Travel Insurance is your best bet to recovering maximum financial losses in the event of natural disasters like hurricanes. Since most policies to disaster-prone areas naturally cover losses incurred in cases of non-payment by airlines and vacation rentals, travel delays, medical evacuations, trip interruptions, and trip cancellations, should a natural calamity strike; it is best to take one to lessen the financial burden on you. An important thing to keep in mind is that travel insurance company only covers losses for ‘unforeseen’ natural calamities. In case of a hurricane, as soon as a hurricane gets named, it may stop being covered by the policy. Therefore, it makes sense to buy travel insurance as soon as you make a non-refundable travel related-payment or to opt for “cancel for any reason” policy for the least amount of risk.