5 things to do if you've booked a holiday during SA lockdown
Many travellers who booked their holiday during the SA lockdown period, from March 26 to April 16, do not know what to do with their travel plans.
Do they cancel? Do they postpone? Do they ask for a refund? IOL Travel asked the experts about what people who have booked their holiday can do during the Covid-19 lockdown. This is what they said:
Check the small print
Many travellers, excited at the prospect of travelling to another country, fail to read the small print or ask questions about cancellations or refunds.
Association of Southern African travel agents (ASATA) coronavirus FAQs guidelines advise that a traveller has the right to cancel their trip, but receiving a full or partial refund depends on whether they purchased a refundable ticket or package, and their specific insurance policy.
Travellers may be liable to pay cancellation fees.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak, many travel establishments are offering travel credits rather than refunds.
ASATA details on its website that “regular travel insurance may not cover cancellation due to the coronavirus outbreak because it is now considered a known and foreseeable event. However, some insurance providers are making exceptions. Be sure to enquire with your provider about the extent of your coverage during this time.”
Contact your travel agent
If you have booked with a travel agent, find out from them what your options are and what they recommend. For those who booked directly with an airline, hotel or supplier, you should contact them to find out your options.
Queries in these circumstances are dealt from most urgent to general, so expect delays.
ASATA recommends customers book with an ASATA approved travel agent. "At a time when airlines and suppliers are flooded with calls from worried travellers, the value of a travel agent becomes very clear. They will act as an intermediary on your behalf and give you the best options and solutions," the organisation said.
Postpone, don’t cancel
The Flight Centre Travel Group recommends customers postpone travel, rather than cancel their travel plans.
Kim Taylor, Customer Experience Director at the Flight Centre Travel Group, said the best value option is for customers to opt for supplier credits for future travel.
"The majority of suppliers are now offering credits over refunds, so it means your money is set aside to put towards a future travel booking. Instead of cancelling and losing your money, you can still travel at a later stage," she said.
Taylor said some suppliers waivered cancellation penalties during this period to allow customers greater flexibility and peace of mind with regards to booking.
Some cruise lines offered clients future travel credits while some added onboard credit and discounts too.
Big Ambitions, a travel marketing agency in South Africa, believes travellers should remain calm and not panic. Chelsey Hale, a brand owner at Big Ambitions, said travellers should remind themselves not to panic about losing their booking deposit.
"Most travel companies and holiday establishments have been working exceptionally hard to help postpone and refund bookings. If you can't reach them immediately via phone or email, please remember to have patience and adopt empathy,” she said.
She discouraged venting on social media or leaving any negative comments and reviews. "This is a challenging and frustrating time for everyone, and with a high volume of customers getting in touch, travel businesses will need some time to respond to everyone," said Hale.
Keep your travel aspirations alive
Although you may not be able to embark on a new adventure just yet, travellers should keep fuelling their wanderlust. Continue reading up on the destinations and the reviews. Find out what to do and where to eat, or make a Pinterest board to save pictures that you find appealing.