My holiday has been cancelled and I am trying to get my money back at the moment. Do you find yourself in the same situation?
Are you getting your refunds or vouchers for your cancelled holiday due to Covid – 19?
The tourism industry is being hit pretty hard right now and companies struggle to survive.
Lots of people, including me, had holiday plans for right now or in the next few weeks that are not going ahead anymore.
We are all contacting or trying to contact companies to see alternatives, request refunds, vouchers, change travel dates etc.
So, how are companies dealing with this situation and are they really keeping their customers informed and are delivering a good customer experience?
Here is my experience and review of the companies I dealt and am dealing with right now to get my money back: British Airways, Expedia and Carnival.
I was supposed to go home to Germany for Easter to visit my family.
While Covid – 19 started to spread in Europe, I received a few emails from British Airways informing me that my flight was still scheduled and supposed to go ahead. This was around the beginning of March.
At that point I was happy as there were no restrictions in Germany or the UK yet and of course I really wanted to see my family.
However, Germany and the UK went into lockdown and British Airways emailed me to say that one leg of my flight, my inbound/coming back flight, was cancelled due to Covid – 19. This was expected of course.
The email directed me to the “My Booking” portal and outlined my options:
- Reschedule the flight
- Cancel the flight and get a flight credit voucher
- Cancel the flight and get 100% refund
I called British Airways straight away, although they advised to call closer to the original travel date, and only had to wait 5 min or so on the line.
I was pleasantly surprised how quickly my call was answered.
I spoke to a lady, who was very polite and asked her to cancel my booking and requested a refund. She processed my request straight away and I did not have to argue for anything.
I was advised it would take up to 14 days for my refund to be processed due to the high level of refund requests, which I thought was perfectly reasonable.
Overall, I had a very pleasant experience. I cannot fault it.
And to my delight my refund came through faster than I was advised. I actually got my money back within a week.
Expedia: Marriott Hotel Group and United Airlines
I have booked my flight and hotel through Expedia as it was cheaper to book them together as a package deal and because I have made several bookings through Expedia in the past and was always happy with their prices and service.
However, this time I feel let down by Expedia.
There is no relevant information at all in my opinion, the website crashes all the time and does not load relevant pages and you have to wait 72 hours before you can speak to anyone from the company.
When you call Expedia you are asked to enter your booking reference number. The system then analyses if you are travelling within 72 hours or not. If you are not, you get disconnected automatically. So no chance to reach out to them more than 3 days before your holiday.
If you send them an email, no one replies to you.
If you want to speak to an agent through their chat system, it cannot connect you to a real person.
We have booked a Marriott Hotel and flight with United Airlines through Expedia as a package.
Marriott, depending on the hotel, allows cancellations and full refunds up to 24 hours before your stay, according to their own website.
I contacted Marriott to see if we can cancel the hotel already and get the refund, but they advised this needs to be requested and dealt with through Expedia. What a bummer for us.
United Airlines on the other hand is currently not providing the 100% refund option to customers at all. The options United Airlines offer is an air credit voucher or rescheduling your flight. Of course this is illegal according to the US Department of Transport. They should also offer you to cancel your flight free of charge just as British Airways does.
My flight got already cancelled, which I can see on Expedia’s customer portal, but I have received no email about this. I have not received any communication about cancellation or rebooking options for the flight or the hotel.
The only email I received was to inform me the a flight credit voucher would be issued to me automatically, which is ridiculous. I have not been informed that my holiday was cancelled (flight + hotel) and I have not requested a voucher. Nothing has been mentioned about the hotel at all.
If it was up to Marriott, we would be able to cancel the hotel already, but because we cannot get through to Expedia we are not allowed to do so. This means we have to wait a long time to get our refund.
Overall, the experience has been really disappointing.
Expedia is not providing any sufficient information and customers cannot reach out to them properly.
I am within the 72 hours period now, but I can still not contact them.
To be honest, I am not sure what to do as all means of communication are not working.
How do you reach out to them?
We booked a cruise to Hawaii through Carnival. We have sailed with them numerous times and always had a fantastic time with them.
When Carnival first announced it was going to cancel some of its cruises in March, this only applied to cruises up to 9th April 2020. Our cruise was after this date and we had all our fingers crossed for it to still go ahead.
We were even offered $200 OBC if we were still planning on going ahead with the cruise as many people wanted to cancel their holiday at that time already. We still wanted to go so this was a great gesture and added bonus.
Carnival has been posting updates on their website, Twitter account and so on for the past weeks continuously to keep people up to date and informed.
I also received emails with updates about health and safety and enhanced screening practices that were implemented on ships and in ports.
However, as we know all cruises in April and into May are cancelled now by all cruise lines and the entire situation across the world changed.
Carnival send out an email to inform me that my cruise was now cancelled and offered the following cancellation options:
- Cancel the cruise and get 100% refund
- Cancel the cruise and get a Future Cruise Credit (FCC) + x amount of Onboard Credit (OBC)
I chose to cancel my cruise and request a refund as this was the most expensive cruise I ever booked. Moreover, there are only a number of Hawaii itineraries and the next season which is in Winter is almost fully booked. Hence the cost of our holiday would rise even more.
To make it easy for customers, Carnival allows you to cancel your cruise and request the refund through their website. You just needed to complete a form and send it of. The only bad part is that you do not get any confirmation stating your request has been submitted or anything like that.
There was no need to call or email them, which in my opinion is in the best interest of both parties. They do not get flooded with calls and emails and I did not have to spend my entire afternoon on the phone.
I waited over a week for my refund, but still had not received it. I decided to contact Carnival.
They emailed back within 24 hours. I thought this was super fast, informing me that my refund was processed, but they would not know when my refund would come through.
It has been over two weeks now and I still have not received my money back.
It is worth mentioning as well that I bought some OBC for this trip and am not sure what is going to happen with it. I requested for the OBC to be refunded as well in an email, but have not received a reply to my request.
These are uncertain and unusual times and I believe we need to cut companies some slack.
They are dealing with thousands or even millions of bookings and they are overwhelmed.
Therefore, things will take longer and I can accept that.
But, I cannot accept some of the practices that have been put in place or not been put in place.
I cannot accept that I cannot get through to Expedia to discuss my booking. I was meant to travel today and cannot reach them at all. Email addresses were removed, the phone system disconnects you every time you call them and the chat function only has a robot on the other side and cannot connect you with a human to resolve your problem.
Expedia is really letting me and other customers down. How can you get your money back if you cannot contact them?
British Airways on the other hand completely surprised me in a very positive way. I managed to speak to someone and managed to get my money back within a week. What else can I ask for?! They managed the situation perfectly.
And Carnival started out to be the leader in customer service. I was very happy at the beginning with how they handled this situation and how they kept me informed. I really liked the OBC gesture and thought it was great that they allowed you to request the refund online yourself after the cruise was cancelled.
However, since my refund request more than two weeks have past and I still have not received my money back and I have not had an update on my OBC refund request neither. So my feelings are mixed now.
They started out to be the leader in customer service for me, but are falling off the throne.
What are your experiences?