Tag Archives: pandemic

How to get a pandemic-era refund for a flight to Europe — or the many other places Americans can’t travel right now …

My advice: Call the airline (if you booked via the airline) and make your case. Don’t do via an emailed refund request. (My request was denied via the United website  ) But when I called the airline, I was granted a refund surprisingly quickly.

More details: we bought direct tickets from United  last April for an early September flight from Chicago to Paris for $450 each  — knowing  we might not be able to go due to the coronavirus situation – a situation we had no idea would get  THIS BAD). We  bought the tickets because they were ridiculously cheap, we had long-established plans (a house booked with friends in Burgundy, sigh) and we could cancel or change with no fee and get compensation, whether a credit or refund.

Our flights were soon changed by United from direct to connecting via Newark and our outbound flight leaving at 2 p.m. rather than the original  6 p.m.  — both grounds, I thought, for a refund. (We also assume the flights will eventually be cancelled.) We prefer a refund rather than credit, which according to United must be used to book a new flight  “within a year of the original ticket issue date.”  I think that means we have to book the flight by April 2021 but we don’t have to fly by April 2021.  Also I’m assuming we can fly anywhere and are not locked into our original destination. Regardless, we now question whether we’ll be able to fly at all next year – and if so, when.  So just give us our money back, please! e

United’s “Cancel Bot” informed me I could ‘submit a request” for a refund if my flight “wasn’t rebooked within two hours of (the) original departure time.” But I learned that “submit a request” doesn’t automatically mean “receive a request.”  Two weeks later, an email from the “refund desk” denied my submitted request.   But when I called United ( 1-800-UNITED1 ), I barely had to make my case. The agent said I was eligible for a refund for the reasons I presented in the email request. Of course ,I’m sad we can’t go….but relieved to get the refund. We’ll go as soon as we can…and maybe even fly United, since it was reasonable, after all, about all this.

 

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Filed under Airlines, flying

Flying during a possible pandemic

I have flown three times during the past 10 days (Feb 29-March 9) of the coronavirus situation (Des Moines to San Francisco via Vegas on Southwest; San Francisco to Burbank on Southwest; Burbank to DSM via Salt Lake City on Delta) and here’s what I noticed:

– A few people wearing masks, not many.

– A few people wiping their seating area with wet wipes and their hands with hand sanitizer. (Me included by flying day #2 when I found unopened wipes in my travel bag that I bought last fall in Vietnam. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been doing…I couldn’t find wipes in San Francisco or Burbank. We found hand sanitizer only after we asked a shop keeper in San Francisco who let us know he had a secret stash behind the counter. “One per family,” he said. Which seemed wise.)

– Not many people are using their tray tables or tucking things into their seat pocket. I predict a (further?) decline in readership of the in-flight mag, not to mention the safety brochure. One woman I saw using her tray table for her laptop was wearing a mask. Huh?

– My delta flight today (March 9) was delayed for cleaning but only a few minutes (and I welcomed the cleaning.) Southwest attendants wore gloves. But my delta flight attendant didn’t wear gloves while serving but did when picking up empty cups. (But she was very pleasant and offered a wider snack selection including granola bars than the other flights.)

– The occasional sneeze or cough (including by me…allergies. Really!) is more noticeable and noticed.

– My second flight had lots of empty seats. We all took our own aisles and window seats. (Maybe we read the same article saying that window seats exposure you to less germs.) Pleasant surprise for this aisle-flyer: it was fun looking out the window.

– Other flights, including the one I am on now, seem almost full (although I have no neighbor.) Maybe more people would cancel if the airlines (other than always reasonable Southwest) extended their Covid-9-inspired, no-charge-for-changes policy so it includes flights right now (not just those purchased between now and March 31. Thx guys but you could do better. Your self- interest is showing.)

– people are calm and pleasant. Not sure I would know anything was different if I didn’t read the news.

– I noticed new signs (I think) in the bathroom in Des Moines (some that could use copy editing) asking “travellers” (yes, misspelled) to wash their hands.

– I also found myself not holding onto the railing on the escalator, to avoid germs and making use of sanitizer stations.

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Filed under California, flying