Talk about Travel

The Pitons on the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia (AP/Scott Sady).
Apr 13, 2020

Join us to discuss your travel-related questions, comments, suspicions, warnings, gripes, sad tales, etc.!

Hi all, and welcome to Talk About Travel! Hi all, and welcome to Talk About Travel. Before we get started, I want to share the link for the Post's coronavirus FAQ and its coronavirus live blog, which is continuously updated with the latest developments. You can also sign up for our Coronavirus Updates newsletter to track the outbreak. All stories linked in the newsletter are free to access.

In this week's Travel section, longtime contributor John Briley wrote about "adventure deficit disorder" during quarantine. What have you been doing to cope with being housebound? Tell us about it below. Most compelling answer gets a copy of "Paris: A Curious Traveler's Guide," by Eleanor Aldridge. On to your questions!

I have a trip to France scheduled for the middle of August (booked last November!). From what you have seen/ heard/experienced, do you think France will be open for business by then?

I am in France, and it doesn't look like much of anything is going on right now. Word on the street is that the lockdown will last until the end of May and that they will gradually loosen the restrictions. By August, you could be OK, but I wouldn't bet on anything at this point.

So my spring break flight to the UK was not cancelled last week and went as planned. Who exactly is still flying these days, particularly overseas, and why are airlines not cancelling flights?!

There's still demand on many routes. But some airline are required to maintain their service to keep their takeoff and landing slots. If they stop flying, they lose their slots.

I'm not religious, but I enjoy theatrical spectacles, and I had decided that this year I was going to see the once-in-a-decade Oberammergau Passion Play. They just announced that they are delaying the production until 2022 -- TWO YEARS. You think maybe they know something the rest of us don't?

Putting on this event is a huge undertaking: It has a cast of about 2,500. I don't think they wanted to take a chance of rescheduling before a vaccine can be developed. BTW, the play started in response to the  plague in 1633 when  residents of Oberammergau, Germany promised to perform it regularly if their residents were spared. 

I'm trying to have faith that we'll be able to travel again by Christmas. My husband and I are thinking about going to the Carribean for Christmas but I'm not sure how to narrow down our options because there are so many. I'm interested in some place relatively accessible from DC (one connection?) and low key, with good beaches and good snorkeling. I like the look of St. Lucia but I read mixed things online about snorkeling there and I'm wondering if there are other islands with a similar look (mountains, maybe rain forest) that have better snorkeling? The only place I've been in the Carribean is Nassau/Paradise Island, which I didn't like at all. A flat island with nothing besides the ocean and palm trees really bores me. Thanks for the help!

I like your optimism. Jamaica may be a good bet, as it offers decent snorkeling, mountains, etc. Plus, it's easy to get to from here. As for rainforests and mountains, Dominica has that, plus snorkeling, but may be more difficult to get there. Islands known for excellent snorkeling include Bonaire, St. John and the Caymans; of those, St. John may be a good choice for you. I'd also consider Belize, although getting there is more difficult. 

Will the government lift the 30-day ban on travelers from Europe?

We don't know. But 30 days seems optimistic at this point.

Hello, dear Travel writers! Thanks so much for hosting this chat every week. I'm not a seasoned traveler so please forgive me if this question is naive. I was supposed to fly to the midwest on Southwest in May for an event that is now cancelled. Last week, I received an email from Southwest that one leg of my trip had changed. The new flight departure and arrival times were only 10 minutes off, but it is a new flight number. My spouse told me that the airline are permitted to make changes within so many minutes. A friend then told me that if my flight number changed, my original flight was cancelled and therefore I was entitled to a refund no matter whether the departure times were fairly close. Help! Who is right? I'd definitely prefer a refund if possible.

Airlines change flights as well as departure times, especially these days, when they are cutting service and grounding planes. It sounds like Southwest is still operating your flight, just under a different number, which means you are not entitled to a refund. Fortunately, Southwest never charges a cancellation fee, though you will have to pay any difference in fare. You could call the airline and hope for a sympathetic agent. But the airlines are bleeding money, so be prepared for a polite no.

What housebound chatters are doing:

Our 45th wedding anniversary trip to France was wisely canceled. In the meantime, I am rereading our travel books, cooking French dishes (with moderate success), studying Google Earth maps of the areas, and taking deep dives into the free video visits many museums offer. The Chinese say that within every crisis lies an opportunity. This is our opportunity to learn in depth about the wonderful things we will see there. How can it hurt?

What haven't I been doing! I've been cooking the food formerly in my freezer, making pancakes and quick breads to store in the newly found space in my freezer, cleaning and washing everything in sight, calling everyone I know, reading a pile of books I always swore that I would get to one day, watching old movies on TV that I recorded ages ago but never had a chance to watch until nowadays, going online and keeping up to date on current events, plus I just joined Facebook and what with making friends and joining groups, I find that I'm busier than ever!

Have good friends (she is working out of house 6 to 8 hours a day, he is working remotely.) They have elementary age kids). I have "Skype-sat" them a couple of times, asking open-ended questions and make sure that every 15 minutes we stand behind our chairs and do jumping jacks.

In 2018, we booked a tour from Paris to Normandy with Discovery Tours by Gate 1. Shortly before the tour was due to depart, we were notified by Gate 1 that they were canceling the trip because not enough people had signed up for it. We were refunded the full amount of the trip, $12,184, which included two passengers on the tour plus business class air from BWI to Paris. Last fall, we signed up for a Discover Tours by Gate 1 tour of Croatia and Slovenia with business air included, scheduled for May 20-June 3, at a cost of $12,640. Gate 1 canceled this trip on April 2 “due to government advisories and travel restrictions.” Unlike in 2018 when they refunded our full fare including air, Gate 1 this time offered us a future travel credit with the value of the air credit being determined by the airline’s rules. I contacted Turkish Airlines and found that Gate 1 had purchased nonrefundable tickets for us. Our only option is to use the tickets by Feb. 28, 2021, or we will lose the entire value of the business class tickets. Doesn’t Gate 1 bear some liability for this since they bought the nonrefundable tickets? And since we had gotten a full refund from them when they canceled the earlier trip we booked with them, shouldn’t we expect a full refund from them for this trip as well?

I think you should get a full refund. But what I think doesn't matter; it's what's in the terms of your purchase. Have you taken a look at that yet? Gate 1 might be changing the rules as they go in order to conserve cash. You could have a case for a full refund. It's definitely worth a look.

What are your thoughts on booking an all inclusive getaway for the Christmas holiday now? Everything seems so uncertain, but we also don't want to be left scrambling for a last minute deal if/when things open back up. It seems most travel insurance policies do not cover a pandemic (except for cancel for any reason policies) and things like airline flights and deposits may not be refundable.

I would take a conservative wait-and-see approach, but I'm not a gambler. If fantastic deals are being offered for booking now, are you willing to take the risk? Could work out great if the virus is a distant memory then. But I'd be more apt to go with a company or destination that is offering a generous refund policy. 

Hi all-- I just got an email from Frontier offering to let me trade in the dollar credit value from my covid-cancelled flight for a larger amount in miles. The credit would have to be used on a flight booked by late June, and the miles could be used until September. I'm definitely leery about rebooking by June, but I've always been skeptical of miles. Is there anything I should keep in mind to make this decision?

If your flight was cancelled, they owe you a refund. 

Nobody can travel for the foreseeable future, so I'll be checking in to see what you'll have to discuss this afternoon. I'm guessing a lot of "How do I get a refund on the trip I booked?" Something more fun to discuss would be everyone's travel bucket list. Mine would include Hawaii, Iceland, Yellowstone, and Mt. St. Helens, so yeah, I dig volcanoes.

Just this morning, I asked myself: Where do I really want to be right now? Or where do I want to go once the shelter-in-place rule is lifted? My answer is Block Island, R.I.

Chatters, what about you?

I HAVE to drive to NJ this weekend. I plan to drive Thursday afternoon arrive at unoccupied house to pack before closing date. I will take my daughter with me, stay at the house and return back to DMV Saturday or Sunday. I plan to order pizza and have it delivered. When I return to DMV, will I have to quarantine for 14 days?

I am going to refer you to the CDC's section on domestic travel. Hope this answers your question.

With stay-home orders and travel restrictions changing frequently, what will be the best way to know if a particular country is accepting tourists again? If the airline doesn't cancel our flight, we'll be assessing whether or not it's safe to take a planned trip (France at the very end of May, in this case) and wondering the best way to find out whether or not we'd even be allowed in (and not have to quarantine upon arrival)? Thanks so much!

I don't know if you're going to make it to France. I'd consult the State Department page and the French Foreign Affairs page. But as of right now, everything is at a standstill.

Hi, First Time Chatter here. In January my partner and I booked airline tickets for a special European trip in May. Obviously, that trip won't be happening now. Our hotel can be cancelled no cost up to 72 hours before so no problems there. But I have hesitated to cancel my tickets in the hope that the airline will cancel the flight, allowing me to get a monetary refund instead of some sort of a voucher for a future trip that may never happen. My question is, it is April now, and I've heard nothing about the flight being cancelled how long should I wait? How soon before the flight are the airlines cancelling nowadays? How close to the trip can I risk waiting before cutting my losses and cancelling myself? The tickets were "Economy Plus" don't know if that makes a difference. Also, we did get travel insurance for the trip, is there any help to be found there? I know that generally the pandemic is considered "an act of God" so the travel insurance won't pay up, but no one was talking about Coronavirus in January, and I don't know if that helps or hurts insurance-wise.

Airlines are cancelling a lot of flights. If you can wait a few more weeks, you might be able to get that full refund from United. But don't make yourself uncomfortable. In other words, if you need to have some peace of mind about your trip, it's better to just take the credit and rebook your flight. Unless you got a cancel for any reason travel insurance policy, you're probably not covered.

Will people wait to start traveling again until the vaccine is developed or until they recover from coronavirus and get immunity?

Both. I've been talking to people who won't travel until there's a vaccine. Others are already packing their bags. Well, almost.

My flight from DC to CDG in early April was cancelled. I booked the ticket last year through a travel agent who said my cc was charged by his agency directly, and that they then paid the airlines “in bulk.” He said that when the airlines send his agency the refunds, they will send their customers individual checks(!), all of which should take “several weeks.” By using a travel agent, it seems I can’t call the airline directly to get a refund on the spot, as others who booked directly are doing; I am at the mercy of the travel agency. I know that, per DOT rules, airlines are supposed to provide refunds within 7 days, but that times are crazy for the travel industry. So, how long should I wait before contacting my travel agent for the status, and do I have options if he says he still hasn’t received the money from the airline so he can’t send me a refund?

Your agent has 20 business days to pay up, according to the Transportation Department.

Any guesses on how long it might take to see refunds from cancelled travel? I cancelled a Hyatt hotel reservation two weeks ago and haven't heard anything back about a refund. I triple-checked the cancellation policy and I am due a refund under their COVID-19 cancellation policies, even for an advance purchase reservation.

Travel companies are swamped with refund requests. I'd give them at least two weeks, maybe a month. Anything longer than that and they're using your money for a micro-loan.

I had a trip scheduled to Scotland on United, departing June 26. The event I was traveling for, my graduation, has been cancelled. For a variety of reasons, I have no desire to do the trip at this time. United has not announced cancellations that far out. On April 6, United sent out an email offer to cancel by April 30 to "change any flight scheduled between June 1 and December 31, 2020, to a date up to 12 months from your original ticket issue date, or cancel your ticket and retain the credit for future use up to 24 months after your original ticket issue date, both without a change fee.". On Twitter I was told by United that the 24 months starts the day the certificate is issued. They would not tell me what happens the end of the 24 months if i don't use the certificate or if there is a timeline for how far out I can book from that 24 months? Also, i saw at one point on the website that the no change fees policy is only good for 2020? So If I try to use it after the end of this year (but still in the 24 months) is there a change fee? At this point, I can't be sure that what my travel future looks like so really, I just want a refund, but am worried that they might be starting to fly at the end of June and the flight would go, so don't want to miss out on what may be my safest bet. Thank you and apologies for the length of this.

United is trying to persuade as many customers as possible to convert their tickets into vouchers. No one knows what will happen with the ticket validity in the future -- the rules keep changing. I would wait as long as possible before cancelling. There's a fairly good chance your flight will be canceled, which would mean you get an automatic refund.

I have a reservation--but have only paid a $400 deposit so far--for a 10-day river cruise from Basel to Amsterdam, leaving in early October. I don't anticipate a big problem rescheduling with the cruise line, since this is my fifth trip with them, but I'm concerned about the $2000+ nonrefundable plane ticket I've already bought from Delta. Is it likely Delta will be flying to Europe in October?...and how likely it it that the currently generous policies on changing reservations will continue through that point? I know that if the airline cancels my flight they have to refund my ticket (albeit reluctantly, I'm sure), so is the smartest policy to wait till the last minute and hope they cancel? Or should I just assume things will be better in October and go ahead and take the trip?

Wait for now. It's not as if you're trying to decide whether to buy the air ticket. Since that's already done, just wait. I also think that the cruise company may very well agree to you not making more than your $400 deposit till much later than is typically required. 

When all the restrictions fade away, consider the island of Cayman Brac (one of the Cayman Islands). It's small, low-key, has magnificent, easy access snorkeling, and most of the island is a plateau (they call it the "Bluff") that ends with a 140-foot cliff at the island's east end. There's lodging, star-gazing, bird-watching, cave-exploring, and cliff-climbing too. There's an early Saturday morning flight from Reagan National that gets you to Miami in time for the every-Saturday Cayman Airways flight direct from Miami to Cayman Brac. Watch for the chance to travel to this quiet gem of an island in the Caribbean!

Thanks for your thoughts. Flight schedules will likely change, at least initially. 

We're scheduled to fly from Chicago to London on Virgin Atlantic (partnering with Delta, so some legs on each airline), departing late July and returning mid-August, with a domestic layover each way. For now we're riding it out to see if we get to go. Departure is far enough away that I was surprised to get an email from Delta yesterday telling me that they were making changes to our flight and offering us a voucher (but not a refund) if we wanted to cancel. The thing is, as far as I can tell, literally the only thing that has changed is the flight number on our last leg home, from Kennedy to O'Hare. The dates, departure and arrival times are all the same, there's been no switch in which airline is operating which leg. I'm guessing that the change in flight number reflects either a switch to a different kind of aircraft? Or the fact that they've canceled other flights on that route for the foreseeable future and are therefore changing this flight number? Or am I missing something? I'm not inclined to change anything right now, bc we still hope to go and because it doesn't look like anything's actually been canceled. But am I missing something? I don't want to find out later that I should have canceled while I had the chance. Thank you!

Airlines are getting clever in the way they are rescheduling their flights. Remember, they want to keep your money. So they are changing their schedules while also keeping your itinerary as intact as possible. Delta isn't the worst of the offenders. I think you should keep your tickets and see what happens. If things take a turn for the worse, Delta will almost certainly cancel your flight.

I'm planning to go to Argentina in December to see the total eclipse. What's your crystal ball telling you about my chances?

Our crystal ball is in the shop.

I'm getting emails from United Airlines pressuring me to cancel my flights (May 29 - June 15, BWI-Honolulu) by April 30th in order to get their offer of a flight credit. I guess they want passengers to cancel, so they can go ahead and cancel the flight. Is it true that if I cancel now, and they later cancel the flight, I can get a refund instead of a credit?

No, if you cancel now and they later cancel the flight, you are stuck with a credit.

No question - just thanking Chris for a very useful article.

I'm glad you found the article helpful.

My son was supposed to fly from NY to Oregon as an unaccompanied minor last Friday. Clearly I wasn't going to let him go given the pandemic, but I wanted to wait to see if the flight would be cancelled before cancelling myself. Last Monday Alaska called me and left a message for me to call back about his flight. I called back and they explained that the flight had been cancelled and they'd be happy to refund my credit card for the full fare, but it would take about 10 days for it to show up on my card. Imagine my surprise when I found the refund on Friday!

Thank you for sharing your story with us.

When is it safe to take cruises and when will cruise lines start up again?

We have no idea. (Sorry I feel like that is my default answer, but we really can't predict the future.) I know that several cruise lines have revised their re-launch dates.

Anyone knows of a great value, 3.5 or above hotel in or near Mykonos for this summer? Two guys are going and will share a double or have our own singles.

Chatters, any advice for a Mykonos hotel?

If Canada is still banning entry, won't my flight have to be cancelled? United is offering a voucher instead.

When is your flight departing? Don't be pressured into taking a voucher. 

More from housebound chatters:

While I have been including walking on my treadmill as a part of my morning workout routine for many months. I'm lucky enough to have that treadmill pointing directly to a television that is connected to the Internet. Since being homebound, I have found YouTube channels for different walks around the world which I can play on the television. Some of these walks are familiar (such as walking along the ocean in Newport Beach, CA) while other walks I haven't yet done in real life (such as along the beach path in Kauai). It's been a fun way to reminisce about past trips and see some new sights to get ideas about where to go when this is all over.

My newly planted indoor garden is doing well (carrots, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, peppers, and various herbs). I'm just hoping that the weather warms up quickly so I can transplant, as my bean sprouts are already getting nearly too big for the indoor pot. It snowed here yesterday, so... I'm hoping. I never tried gardening before, even the indoor variety. It's oddly rewarding to watch them grow!

Aside from gritting my teeth at the continual mess generated by having all three of us home 24/7 when two are usually at work/school most of the week.....I've wanted to dust off my creative writing skills for years, and have several short stories, essays, and a novel that have been living in my head with no way out. Since my freelance work has dried up and I now have time, I signed up for an online class on character development, and have also been taking advantage of numerous inexpensive but wonderful online writing workshops -- and now I have the framework for chapter one of the novel! Noise canceling headphones are a godsend.....

I was supposed to fly to Boston on May 5, which obviously I'm not doing now. My AA flight has not been cancelled, but the outgoing (nonstop) flight has been changed to a one-stop, different flight number. Is this AA's way of getting around an actual cancellation? I'm not going to cancel the flight myself until the last minute, and I also have "cancel for any reason" trip insurance, purchased in early March before they stopped allowing people to buy it, so I'll at least get 75% of my ticket back, but was curious about AA changing the flight instead of cancelling it. Thanks!

No, that looks like a cancellation. Check American's contract of carriage, the legal agreement between you and the airline. If your arrival time changes significantly, you should get a full refund.

As someone who lives alone, I finally lost it yesterday and am wondering if it's even possible to drive to my family's home in Upstate New York (not even close to the epicenter in NYC) from Maryland. Would I just get constantly pulled over once I hit PA and NY with MD plates? I've been self-isolating in my own home and would go directly to my family's home and self-isolate there as well but am unsure if making the drive is even feasible!

Neither state has driving restrictions for those with out-of-state plates. Think about where you will stop for restrooms. I believe Pennsylvania has reopened its interstate rest stops and New York's are also open. 

Hi. I booked a flight IAD-LHR using membership reward points at American Express. The flight was Air France, operated by Virgin. I submitted all details through Air France. Last week the flight was cancelled. American Express said to get a voucher from Air France, but Air France doesn't recognize my record locator, and tells me to go to American Express. Neither site shows my booking any longer. The cancellation notice came from AmEx by email. I know you have many requests about third party bookings. At this point, I don't care if I get points back, or a voucher, but I am owed about $800 from someone. How to proceed?

Short answer: Amex should step up. But I need to see details. Here's how to reach me. I'll try to help you sort it out. 

I understand why no one wants to work in a National Park with so many risks to their health dealing with so many visitors. But couldn't Yellowstone, Glacier, etc., have just left the gates open? These parks are so huge that getting off on a trail is the definition of social distancing.

I agree. It's too bad they had to close the parks.

Thanks to the travel team, I am now poised to receive a cash refund (credit to Visa) for an airline ticket. I also have a question before I close the matter. A little background…like many other travelers, I was booked for a flight prior to the pandemic. Last month the airline cancelled my flight and rescheduled me on another. I cancelled the new one since it didn’t work for my schedule and asked to have the payment refunded. Was told that only credits were being given. I had resigned myself to this resolution, but saw the advice you gave in the weekly chat that per the US DOT web site, consumers should be able to receive their funds back for cancelled or changed flights. So, I sent a letter stating as such. The following week, I read the WAPO article explaining how to secure a refund with airlines based on the recent DOT enforcement action, so I called my airline. Initially I was again denied my refund, but after I requested a supervisor, the rep. returned and stated that she had been authorized to credit my card and I should receive notice from my card company in 7 business days. My question after all this is whether I should proceed to file a dispute with my card company to preserve my rights. I won’t know if the airline acted as promised until after the statutory 60 day period to make a claim. A friend overheard my conversation where they promised a refund on speakerphone, but should I hedge my bets in case the airline doesn’t follow through?

I'm glad you found our advice helpful. No, I would not file a dispute. The 60 days is required under the Fair Credit Billing Act, but banks can extend it, and in a situation like this, they probably would. A credit card chargeback would really complicate your refund at this point.

Once this is over, travel will pick up fastest in which sectors? Driving destinations? Air travel? Railway? Local day or weekend trips? I truly wonder if cruises will ever come back or will they go thru a radical change to gain the public trust. Thanks.

We can only guess. My thought is that driving may be more popular for a time, and many will prefer staying closer to home. As for cruises, those that love to cruise will return, but not sure how many newbies it will attract in the near future. 

Any idea if and when beach rentals will be available for the summer? Will this pandemic increase or lower prices? I'm can't wait to go to the beach.

We have no idea about a timeline, and my guess is that prices will start low but then skyrocket once the industry is confident that travelers are coming back -- in droves.

I have an ongoing discussion with my partner about all the places we will go once we are allowed out again. We don't sit still well. We like weekend getaways and take them often; we visit family in NYC/NJ and Florida. But we really love planing and taking bigger trips, and we aim to do at least one a year. But this year, we don't know what to expect. Will prices be lower to entice people out, or will prices be higher due to increased costs to operators (of venues, hotels, airlines, rental car agencies). We can see strong arguments for both sides. And what/where is even a safe call now? Since we do not know if the virus threat will truly be over until we have a vaccine, will be have any guidance on when and how to get out and see something new and exciting again. Any predictions?

That's a great question! I'm actually working on a Navigator about this topic now. So far, experts are telling me that prices will be low and the focus will be on domestic travel for the rest of the year. National parks, camping -- anything that gets you away from people. In other words, the whole world is coming to South Dakota. I'll have details soon.

I am a big cruising fan and was hoping to go on vacation. Would you go on one? to the caribbean? or Europe? a large ship? small one? would you get an outside balcony? timing? Welcome your wise counsel.

I'm not sure what the future will bring for the cruise industry. Right now, they are under a no-sail order for 100 days commencing March 14. But according to several reports, cruise bookings for 2021 are doing a brisk business. I would be more apt to go on a river cruise than an ocean cruise. And I also opt for an outside balcony and suite; to me, it's worth the extra money even without the threat of being quarantined. As for destination, nothing sounds very appealing right now, but in better days, Mediterranean cruises are more about the shore excursions, which works for me. 

Doesn't the AirBnB coronavirus policy override their AirBnB host's strict cancellation policy? Last November my friend booked an out-of-state AirBnB last November (on behalf of 11 others) and paid half down. Check in was to be this weekend. Due to the coronavirus and to travel restrictions / non-essential business shutdown orders in both my state and the state of the AirBnB host, my friend canceled the reservation on March 30th and asked for a full refund. The AirBnB host - and AirBnB - refuses to refund all but about 5% of my friend's half-down deposit. The AirBnB host has the AirBnB Strict cancellation policy, but doesn't the AirBnB Coronavirus/Extenuating Circumstances policy require the host to honor my friend's request for a full refund?

Hmm, something looks wrong with that. Please ask your friend to contact me directly. Here's how to reach me. I'll do my best to help.

In Europe airlines have been given a 3 month exemption to the usual 80-20 use or lose rules to stop them having to fly planes just to maintain their slots. Note not evey airport is slot restricted and has the 80-20 rules.

Thank you for clarifying.

I was planning to travel to Greece at the end of May on a tour. I kept watching to see if it would be cancelled because there is a consumer group that will help us get a refund if they don’t deliver what they promised. That is in the terms of the booking. When the final payment for the trip was coming due, my friend (there are four of us on the booking) asked the travel agent AAA if we could cancel because of the pandemic. The agent gave us three options, not including a refund, and said our payment would be due two days early because she wasn’t working on the weekend. I felt pressured, but we decided to take the first option, which was taking a credit in the full amount of the deposits we had already paid. The tour later — maybe a week later — became “suspended”. I checked, and my flights are all cancelled. I have asked for a refund from AAA. Do you think our decision to take the credit means we aren’t entitled to a refund now?

Probably. But everything is negotiable now. Your travel agent should advocate for a full refund on your behalf. Who knows, you might get it?

FYI - I'm housebound here in NJ and wanted to pass along the official state COVID-19 website with the latest rules and proclamations from the Governor and case totals and distribution (scroll to bottom of page). Hopefully you're not headed to the northeast part of the state, but even if you aren't, please stay safe!

Thank you for sharing, Jersey! Stay safe as well.

We traveled to Puerto Rico just when the pandemia was starting develop in the US (March 8) and got a rental car through Expedia to which we added Expedia's Collision Damage Plan for $66.00. Upon picking up our rental car, we were told that they don't accept Expedia's car insurance and asked us to file a claim to have those charges reimbursed. We have called Expedia multiple times to file a claim for the insurance charges in our credit card without success. We tried their chat and also sent an email to the only address we could find: We understand they are experience high call volumes, but it has been a month since we completed this rental purchase and we can't even at least file the claim through their website or by phone call. Are there other means with Expedia for working with these issues that are not related to cancellations and changes due to the Covid-19 pandemic?

I'm sorry to hear about that. Try one of these Expedia executive contacts.

How long should we wait for an airline refund of a cancelled flight? Contacted Lufthansa on 4/5 about refund for cancelled 4/7 flight. No problem, they said, you'll get a refund and we will send you a confirmation email. The email they sent said nothing about a refund. I plan to call Visa about this issue on 4/14. Is that too soon? I'm concerned that their email said nothing about refund. It was just a confirmation of flight cancellation. I'm sorry, I bet you're tired of these questions (my third on this topic). But I need to call Visa before 60 days, which will be May 2. Thanks for any advice.

The Department of Transportation is clear on this issue. The airline has seven days to issue a refund to your credit card. You might want to give Lufthansa a week or two, given the circumstances. But after that, let your credit card know about the problem.

Thanks for your advice about waiting to see if a flight gets cancelled before accepting a voucher. Last week, United actually called me to offer either a voucher or a refund for my April 20 travel to Spain. After telling them how sorry I am for what they are going through, I opted for the refund. The credit appeared on my credit card account about 5 days later. Really appreciate United and you travel journalists.

Nice work! Glad United did the right thing.

My mother is supposed to travel to US from Switzerland. Technically, 30 days travel ban imposed by the US government on March 13 ended last night. Have you heard/seen anything about extension of this travel ban?

You are so right! I can't find any info about whether the ban has been extended. But if your mom is a U.S. citizen, she should be permitted to return to the country.  The State Dept. has some helpful info on the country and its restrictions.

We have a trip (through a tour company) planned for late September. I haven't heard much about the impact of the virus in Ireland and Scotland. What are our odds of making the trip. What should we be thinking about in terms of refunds? We have trip insurance but have heard it does not apply to a pandemic (we did not buy the "for any reason" insurance, unfortunately).

I just did an Airbnb Online Experience with sheep in Scotland (story to come!) and both countries have ordered lockdowns. (One of the other Zoom guests was from Dublin. She said they have to stay within two kilometers of their homes.) The only way to recoup some of your costs is to have purchased Cancel For Any Reason. Hopefully, the tour company will ease its cancellation policy if the virus prevents you from traveling abroad.

A dear friend, an American expat living in France, got caught here in the US visiting family of origin when the pandemic was declared. Her trip back to France in late March was cancelled. Do you know when she might be able to return to her family in France?

We have no idea, but you can stay abreast of the situation through the US Embassy in France. Here is the latest.

Hello, United significantly changed an upcoming flight of mine. I want a refund, did not accept schedule change. Is this appropriate way to ask them to refund? Sorry for all the challenges United is facing. I am requesting United refund my flight based on terms at time of booking (2/12/2020-terms at the time allowed for a refund if the flight scheduled changed by 2 hours). I do not accept the changes in schedule, particularly the addition of a connection in the heavily impacted New York area, an an extra flight increases the chance of getting stuck. I am requesting that United refund my flight based on terms at booking. I hope a refund is issued as I strongly prefer not to involve Capital One/Visa or Department of Transportation. Both my original booking showing routing and your policy on changes/refunds are attached. Thank you

Yes, you can either call or request a refund online in writing. If necessary, cite the DOT policy I mentioned earlier.

First, Trump made entry to the parks free and the crowds came and did not abide by the social distancing. Second, towns surrounding the parks are fearful about an increase in medical needs, etc. Third, the last time parks were closed during a government shutdown, parks got damaged since no one was around doing security. The Park Service needs to use drones as our jurisdiction is doing.

Exactly -- Travel covered this last month, as did the Post last year during the government shutdown.

Looks like our hour is up -- thanks for chatting, everyone! Treadmill chatter taking walks around the world, please drop us a line at to claim your prize. And join us again next week for more Talk About Travel.


In This Chat
Nicole Arthur
Nicole Arthur is the Travel editor.
Andrea Sachs
Andrea Sachs is a staff writer for Travel.
Christopher Elliott
Christopher Elliott writes The Navigator column. He is also National Geographic Traveler magazine's reader advocate.
Carol Sottili
Carol Sottili is a former Washington Post travel writer, specializing in travel deals.
Helen Carefoot
Helen Carefoot is Travel's editorial assistant.
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