Have you had to change/cancel travel due to COVID-19 (involuntarily or voluntarily)?

robtemt

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I thought I would start a thread as a resource for AFFers who have changed or cancelled travel plans directly or indirectly due to 2019 n-CoV.
  • Did the airline/cruise company cancelling or change your flight/cruise? Or, did you proactively or reactively cancel or change it on your own (and why?).
  • Did they notify you directly, or did you discover it on your own?
  • What was your original plan, and what was the revised plan?
  • What was your experience like?
  • Did you go through any travel insurance claim process, and how was that part of it?

For the record, part of my role at work is to monitor medical related issues, filter out mis/disinformation, and brief other staff using only verified facts from trusted sources, so I am not one to buy into sensationalism or hysteria. BUT, I am also an advocate of forward planning and monitoring situations that could affect travel plans.
Post automatically merged:

To start it off…. We have begun voluntarily changing (or making back up plans for) our upcoming holiday SYD-(+/- SIN)-LAX-SJO-LAX-HNL-LNY-HNL-SYD

We are booked to the USA via SIN on SQ in a few weeks (F Saver Reward Booking). A few things caused us to start making contingency plans on getting to the USA including:
  • Reading posts from Buttermilk Chicken regarding her RTW flight being disrupted between HKK and CEB
  • Member Pushka raising a good point if Singapore will be next.
  • Monitoring the World Health Organisations surveillance on n-CoV (as part of my responsibilities at work). Singapore confirmed infections were 28 on 5 Feb, 40 on 8 Feb, and 43 on 9 Feb. Several of these cases were human-to-human contact, with no recent travel to China.
  • Bloomberg’s article this morning HERE, which discussed the spread of the virus from a conference attendee in Singapore, via a resort in France, to people in France, Spain, and the UK.

We contacted SQ, to discuss the options of alternative carriers, to which there were no available flights. The agent was very friendly, and said she understood the desire to rebook and avoid an Asia transit, but she said until official bans are in place, there were no options, but “we will offer options if Singapore becomes affected by travel bans”.

We began searching other options. We contacted VFF, who found one seat on DL SYD-LAX in W, and one seat on VA in J SYD-BNE-LAX. No other business or premium reward seats (except any seat) were available +/- 1 day of our desired travel (with pre-booked hotels, cars, and other flights to South America, and Hawaii). We will keep looking for another J seat on same day, and hopefully two on the same flight to free up closer to the date.

We have left our SQ bookings as is for now, and will cancel either that booking of the DL/VA booking closer to the date as thing develop.

Overall Experience:
  • Wait times on the phone are obviously a bit longer, but I’ve not been on hold longer than 15 minutes with either VA or SQ.
  • Staff at both SQ and VA call centres have been friendly, empathetic, and helpful in searching, but have no/limited availability and flexibility in voluntary changes so far.
 

get me outta here

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I think some people are thinking that isolation would be a holiday in itself. 😊
None of those in isolation I’ve seen on television have looked particularly happy.
 

JennyMG

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An Insurance Industry expert was just on Channel 10. I should say "expert". He just stated that travellers should get insurance for the corona virus now because once it is declared a pandemic it will be too late. Does this guy ever read any travel insurance websites?
TRAVEL INSURANCE INFORMATION
What an idiot.
Each insurance policy is all IN THE WORDS. ALL travel insurance policies will have Covid19 clauses in them now.
Prior to Jan 31 (or whenever it was) many DID cover endemics, some even pandemics, but have the ability to change their wording at any time, and of course they all have.
The difference between endemic and pandemic is beside the point if they have Covid19 clauses;. What an idiot, and Channel 10 should set the viewers straight, that is and out & out untruth.

As a person who worked 14 years in the insurance industry, i can say with absolute certainty that nothing is certain. Certainly not the certainty of cover. ;)
In fact, I have a 10 month old policy with Insure & Go, to cover my upcoming European holiday, June and July.
I bought the best cover possible. Unlimited Cancellation. This, in itself is a misnomer, not unlimited cancellation but unlimited $$ cancellation. The onus is on the buyer to read the pdf.
In almost 100% of cases, buyers will find a corona virus clause, as I did when I looked up the 'new' I&G policy to see how it compares to mine, "Excluded - any claims relating in any way to the Novel Coronavirus Covid19.'
In MY case, the conditions are much more complex. Here are some of the questions I asked and some of the answers I received. The first part of his/I&G's response:

"We are currently receiving overwhelming queries about this recent world-known health scare and the recent change in advice from the Australian government for CHINA. As such, we are only covering for trip cancellations which are directly/solely traveling to that country as mandated by the government."

(
I'm guessing as of very recently they would incude Iran, South Korea, etc...)

"With this, please note that any decision to change your travel plans/cancellation to countries which does not have a "Do not travel" ban from the government is not coverable. This will fall under fear of travel/change of mind which we do not deemed coverable on the policy."


My questions: 1) Please confirm that this policy does, indeed cover us for cancellation for any reason,
"**No, only if due to government restrictions, please see response above"

2) and that 'any reason' includes this viral epidemic that may envelope us? (We don't want to cancel, and indeed will not cancel until the last minute, if it's truly dreadful,...)
**Yes, you can only claim if there will government restrictions from Australian government thru smarttraveler.gov.au website which will advise DO NOT TRAVEL ban to the countries you are travelling to.

3) That if i
t DOES include the above, does it include cancellation MID-trip? or
**If you are already overseas and a DO NOT TRAVEL ban will be imposed to the country you are travelling to, you may cut your trip/skip portion of the trip pertaining to the excluded area.

4) does it also include medical help during the trip if we were to require it, due to the coronavirus? (because I bought my policy July 2019)
**Yes,as your policy was bought on such period that the Corona Virus scare is not yet known, we hope not but in the case of virus contraction, note that the policy will cover you subject to terms and conditions of the policy."

I don't fully understand the last #4 answer, as I think a few typos.

So basically - if you have a previous policy (pre-covid19)
You ARE covered if you are already in a banned country - for cancellation, medical, et al.
You are NOT covered if you travel NOW to a banned country, for anything related to covid19, and or any complications or cancellations or other occurences relating to it.
You ARE NOT covered if you just 'change your mind' about travelling, for fear of the virus, or for whatever reason you don't want to travel there any more - even if you had a policy like mine, 'unlimited cancellation'.
(the difference would be if you had a 'cancel for ANY REASON')
You ARE covered in all non-banned countries, for any OTHER medical / travel issues, and in non banned countries for Covid19 issues as well. AT least I THINK SO...as the last clause of that answer #4, is somewhat unclear - as befits the typical Insurance agent. :rolleyes:
Furthermore, I can cancel whatever I want, but can only 'claim' cancellations that are non-refundable from any other source (ie credit card, paypal, booking.com or hotels themselves....and that would take some time.), AND in conjunction with that, can only claim for cancellations that are FORCEDon me, such as airline cancellations, where I can't make other arrangments, or accommodation cancellations where I am forced to cancel through the Govt. ban.

Oh. Joy.
 

Denali

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Our May trip to South Africa. My 1st tour (private photography tour) said they can delay our tour so Ive built a 3 day buffer into getting to South Africa if when SQ cancel our flights. If SQ do not cancel our flights, then I will use those 2 extra nights and visit a different camp at Kruger or just relax and get into the new timezone.

Now to move a couple of domestic flights to/from Victoria Falls, no idea whats the penalty or cheaper to just buy new at this stage.
 
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Pushka

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I'm currently liaising with Luxury Escapes re our trip to Bali in 3 weeks. Maybe they will defer but goodness knows when this issue will resolve. And then there's the wait for Qantas to refund.
I’m keen to hear how you go with Luxury Escapes.
I too have a LE holiday booked in Thailand.
I spoke with my insurer on Saturday and they told me unless the level is raised by Australian Government to 3 or higher than I am not covered for cancelling!

I have an update. And success. However I did have to negotiate past the first T&Cs refusal by explaining we had booked several trips through them and we didn't ask for any consideration when we travelled around 18 months ago during the Bali Volcano threat. There was an earthquake while we were there but no volcano.
The Hotel have allowed us to extend the booking frame up to December 2021 which we think is very generous and will likely go in November when hopefully this will have settled as much as it's going to.

I haven't cancelled flights yet. I'm trying to avoid the $600 pp penalty and am waiting for this to proceed for a few more days. We don't need the money to pay for another trip this month coz we are staying home now. Maybe Bali might ban Australians!
 

OATEK

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Just heard that the Palestinian Authority has closed access to the Church of the Navity in Bethlehem because of Covid-19. So that is one leg of our Israeli shore excursion gone. Bit by bit the noose is tightening.
 
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dmgale1960

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Planned trip to London and Lake Garda in Northern Italy and Singapore is looking shaky. Italy is off the table and we are trying to get a refund from the hotel as they can't open (only open April to October). While the London leg looks OK the family member we are visiting is elderly so there are other concerns. Travel insurance has the exclusion on epidemics so we are f*cked there too. Question: Ii took out an annual policy which commences in May. Given I haven't travelled anywhere as yet - and probably won't at all - what are my chance of getting my premium back?
 

Vic

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Well, interesting situation for me. Conference in South Korea, Seoul. Most all of the infections in South Korea as in a couple of towns among some sort of christian sect that I've heard described as some kind of doomsday cult. SK government spending $14.8 billion on measures to control the virus.

So Jetstar cancels the flight from Gold coast to seoul first - that's great, free refund. But no 250 status credits for the return business flight.
Work has just banned travel for Professional Development in line with Smarttraveller - so no PD leave to South Korea. I could go on "holiday", and I'm not even bothered about the risk of catching this thing. But then I'd have to take 14 days isolation on return.
The conference organisers, feel sorry for them, are still reviewing the situation with an answer towards the end of March.

My Qantas business fare, D, to the Gold Coast is on a separate booking. Changing that to a weekend in NZ is an option, but I assume as it's currently a D fare, I'm not going to be able to grab the business sale fares that are available now. A point of negotiation with Qantas.
 

Denali

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So Ive made my pre-emtptive changes to my May trip to Sth Africa so now I wait....

Given myself 4 days to get to my 1st tour via SIN. If no cancellations/delays then we will spend the extra time relaxing at nearby camp but If flights cancelled/delayed, we shouldnt miss the 1st day of the week long private tour.

Domestic flight changes were $118AUD so happy to pay for that, especially considering the cost so far of this trip. Did ask for waiver but I doubt I will get a response/thats OK.

I think Cape Town shark diving is off the table for hubby but shark sightings are down anyways plus they use cattle boats so maybe Steward Island off NZ next year for his 60th instead.
 

amaroo

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So Ive made my pre-emtptive changes to my May trip to Sth Africa so now I wait....

Given myself 4 days to get to my 1st tour via SIN. If no cancellations/delays then we will spend the extra time relaxing at nearby camp but If flights cancelled/delayed, we shouldnt miss the 1st day of the week long private tour.

Domestic flight changes were $118AUD so happy to pay for that, especially considering the cost so far of this trip. Did ask for waiver but I doubt I will get a response/thats OK.

I think Cape Town shark diving is off the table for hubby but shark sightings are down anyways plus they use cattle boats so maybe Steward Island off NZ next year for his 60th instead.

Assuming your TI is solid?
 

Melburnian1

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So quiet at Sydney airport. Flying Y to Fiji today and checked in and security in 30 min...

It'll be even quieter soon as QF has just announced it's cutting frequencies (QFi/JQ) to/from Japan until end of March (at least.)

Being discussed in another AFF thread but exact cancellation days not yet publicised. I bet some AFFers' flights are affected.
 

JennyMG

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Planned trip to London and Lake Garda in Northern Italy and Singapore is looking shaky. Italy is off the table and we are trying to get a refund from the hotel as they can't open (only open April to October). While the London leg looks OK the family member we are visiting is elderly so there are other concerns. Travel insurance has the exclusion on epidemics so we are f*cked there too. Question: Ii took out an annual policy which commences in May. Given I haven't travelled anywhere as yet - and probably won't at all - what are my chance of getting my premium back?
Very good I imagine. If you aren't going to use the policy to claim, (to claim cancellation fees etc), AND you have not travelled, then usually, just like car insurance, (if you were going to buy a car, bought a policy, and then did not buy the car) you can be refunded almost the full policy amount, sometimes with a small admin fee, for the unused policy. It must be UNUSED. as you say, not YET travelled, no claims.
 

JennyMG

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Just read every boring word of my Insure and Go policy taken out on 13 Jan. No mention of Pandemic. I have emailed them to check all sections are OK for Pandemic.
Yours is the same as mine then. Some mention of epidemic. No pandemic.
Have a look at my previous post (page 11 I think) about what I asked and what they responded.
There's so much confusing regarding insurance at the moment, but it's quite clear in some respects.

What's not clear...certain grey areas...such as if you are in a country which THEN get's banned, or travel through a banned country,(imagine a banned Singapore,) without a stopover, but just a layover, Or if you were in a country and didn't KNOW it was banned(because you were out of contact)...lots of grey areas. But the main ones are pretty straight forward.

For me...I'm between a rock and a hard place.
at least half my holiday is not cancellable (I took the cheaper booking option for some.)
Can't cancel - because the insurance is not Cancel for Any Reason. (change of mind doesn't count)
Don't really want to go to Italy, but HAVE to because of above. You almost have to wait for the Govt to ban ALL your countries,to get any claimable situations.
 

Melburnian1

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...There's so much confusing regarding insurance at the moment, but it's quite clear in some respects.
What's not clear...certain grey areas...such as if you are in a country which THEN get's banned, or travel through a banned country,(imagine a banned Singapore,) without a stopover, but just a layover, Or if you were in a country and didn't KNOW it was banned(because you were out of contact)...lots of grey areas. But the main ones are pretty straight forward.

Some grey areas could be the subject of complaints by consumers to the industry Ombudsman. That's what I'd be inclined to do, post-arrival back in Oz.
 

amaroo

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We've got a QBE policy, no wording on epidemic or pandemic, but it does have this clause under general exclusions....

A loss caused by, arising directly or indirectly from or in any way connected with any Government intervention, prohibition, or regulation.

That pretty much covers all their bases IMHO.
 

get me outta here

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Insure and Go only says re epidemic, "you cannot travel because of government restrictions after an epidemic." The "after" is ambiguous. 🤨
 

MollyJones

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Well, interesting situation for me. Conference in South Korea, Seoul. Most all of the infections in South Korea as in a couple of towns among some sort of christian sect that I've heard described as some kind of doomsday cult. SK government spending $14.8 billion on measures to control the virus.

So Jetstar cancels the flight from Gold coast to seoul first - that's great, free refund. But no 250 status credits for the return business flight.
Work has just banned travel for Professional Development in line with Smarttraveller - so no PD leave to South Korea. I could go on "holiday", and I'm not even bothered about the risk of catching this thing. But then I'd have to take 14 days isolation on return.
The conference organisers, feel sorry for them, are still reviewing the situation with an answer towards the end of March.

My Qantas business fare, D, to the Gold Coast is on a separate booking. Changing that to a weekend in NZ is an option, but I assume as it's currently a D fare, I'm not going to be able to grab the business sale fares that are available now. A point of negotiation with Qantas.

Hmm not so sure about that. Schools in Seoul have been closed for 2 weeks already and the government there have extended the school closure until 23/3.
 

Pushka

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Insure and Go only says re epidemic, "you cannot travel because of government restrictions after an epidemic." The "after" is ambiguous. 🤨
Maybe it's because they can't say before an epidemic? I agree. It's ambiguous. I do have this in an an email:
If the Smart Traveller government site changes their official advice to " DO NOT TRAVEL" you will be covered under section A to cancel your trip before departure.

While my query was in relation to Covid I expect the conditions to be the same whatever the DNT was issued for.
 
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