In the Milesopedia Facebook community, questions about airline ticket and travel cancellation rules come up often.
Specifically: how do you avoid paying a fee when cancelling a trip and how to get a refund?
Where do I start to get a refund after a trip cancellation?
First of all, your reason for cancelling the trip is important.
If the carrier changes your flight and it is no longer suitable, you can cancel the ticket and get a full refund directly with the company.
The refund will be applied to the original method of payment. This applies regardless of how the ticket was paid for (points, cash, travel credit).
However, if you want to cancel a trip because you have changed your mind, the airline is not required to refund you if it is still operating the flight.
Indeed, the sanitary measures and restrictions for COVID-19 can be discouraging in front of a departure, but the carrier is not responsible in this context.
Government restrictions do not prohibit the carrier from operating the flights, as the trips are not outlawed by the state, they are strongly discouraged.
How to cancel a trip will depend on several factors.
A quick reminder of some definitions of travel insurance terms:
|Trip Cancellation Insurance||Cancelled before departure|
|Trip interruption insurance||Interrupted after departure|
Credit cards insurance
A claim can be made to credit card cancellation insurance for the following reasons:
- A medical emergency for an insured person
- A medical emergency for a close family member (family, work associate) of an insured person
- The death of an insured person
- The death of a close family member or business associate of an insured person
- The death of the host at the destination of an insured person
- The news of a pregnancy when the trip was meant to take place after the 32nd week
- The premature birth of a baby if the trip is during the first 32 weeks of pregnancy
- A government warning, after your travel purchase, advising travelers not to go to the intended destination
- Being summoned to court
- Job loss or transfer
- An event that renders an insured person’s principal residence or place of business uninhabitable
- The delay of a private vehicle or carrier due to external conditions (traffic accident, bad weather, roadblock…) preventing a covered person from starting his trip
Insurance specific to COVID-19
What should you do if you test positive for COVID-19, forcing mandatory isolation before departure?
COVID-19 is a known situation so it is not a valid reason to make a claim on standard insurance such as credit cards. It is imperative to have a cancellation insurance that covers this clause.
We do not pay any benefits for a quarantine or self-isolation in Canada as mandated by any government.
While TuGo will accept cancellation due to quarantine for a trip cancellation insurance claim.
This procedure will not be applicable for a refund of the trip in case you change your mind.
Chargeback with the credit card issuer is only for the following situations:
- you paid for a service that was not rendered
- you paid for goods you did not receive or damaged
It is also a measure of last resort. In fact, you must have taken steps to get your money back from the merchant before turning to the chargeback department.
When booking an airline ticket, you must agree to the carrier’s trip cancellation and refund policies.
If you purchased a flight at a non-refundable fare, the chargeback request will be denied since the merchant is entitled to justify itself.
The carrier will send the terms and conditions you agreed to to the credit card company.
How do I cancel a trip paid in cash?
The answer to this question will depend on several elements:
- the company
- the destination
- the tariff class
- the options chosen
- the date of reservation
- the date of cancellation
When you are about to purchase an airline ticket, the fare conditions are clearly indicated during the flight selection.
Basic and standard fare flights are non-refundable with Air Canada.
However, due to the pandemic, cancellation policies may be relaxed depending on the carrier.
For a flight booked with Air Canada, for example, you can currently cancel the trip even at the lowest fare. In this case, Air Canada will give you:
- a travel credit
- the equivalent of the airfare in Aeroplan points with a 65% bonus
At Air Canada Vacations, it is possible to pay for the “All Flexibility” option which allows for a full refund. However, there are specifications on how the reimbursement is to be made.
- up to 21 days before departure, the total price of the package will be refunded in the original form of payment
- up to 3 days before departure, 100% of the total price will be granted as a travel credit
On the Sunwing side, they are currently offering one free change on all reservations. If you want to cancel your trip for any reason, you can do so up to 3 hours before departure by paying an additional fee with the “no worries” option.
However, although you are able to cancel travel up to 3 hours prior to the flight, the method of refund will not necessarily be in cash. It will depend on when you pull the trigger on your vacation.
Similarly, Air Transat also offers a bonus for the flexibility of having a trip refunded.
In short, you have to pay for flexibility and cancellation.
How do I cancel a trip paid with Aeroplan points?
It is possible tocancel or change the itinerary of an airfare at any time up to two hours before departure, even at standard fares! This great flexibility is one of the biggest advantages of paying for the flight with points versus cash.
In the event of cancellation, Aeroplan points will be returned to the account and taxes paid will be refunded in full. The process is very simple.
However, it will not be free. In addition, it should be noted that taking a business class ticket does not exempt you from cancellation fees if the fare is standard.
Here are the details of the cancellation and change fees for award tickets.
Finally, due to the pandemic, Air Canada has changed its award cancellation and change policies. Therefore, depending on the date of booking, it is possible to benefit from a fee waiver.
It is possible to use Aeroplan points for a vacation package in the South. In fact, it is a travel discount that will be deducted from the final amount when you make your reservation.
This way of paying is similar to using rewards points. You purchase the trip first, then apply points for a credit to the account when the expense appears on the statement.
In this example, the number of points to be redeemed is 200,000 Aeroplan points for a discount of $2,000.
Milesopedia gives a current valuation of 2.0¢ to an Aeroplan point. This is a benchmark figure when considering whether to book a flight with cash or with Aeroplan points. So according to the formula for valuation calculation:
2,000 / 200,000 = 1¢ per Aeroplan point
However, although the valuation is lower than what we aim for at Milesopedia, money saved is money saved to be used elsewhere!
Taking the “All Flexibility” option is also required to cancel an all-inclusive trip paid with Aeroplan points.
The conditions of the option are the same as those listed above. Despite the payment in points, it is a travel discount and therefore simply a payment method.
How do I cancel a trip paid with Reward Points?
When used, Reward Points appear as a credit to the account on the credit card statement. The credit is applied in the same manner as a payment from you to the account balance.
Following a cancellation, if you are able to obtain a cash refund, the amount will appear on your credit card statement. Depending on the issuer, points will be restored while some leave the travel credit in place.
To cancel an airline ticket or an all-inclusive paid for in this manner, refer to the section “How do I cancel a trip paid for with cash?”. The procedures are usually the same.
How do I cancel a hotel reservation free of charge?
Finally, getting reimbursed for a hotel room is much easier than for flights and vacation packages.
The terms and conditions are specific to each hotel whether paid in points or in cash.
In times of pandemic, the feeling of wanting to cancel your trip is unavoidable when faced with the restrictions that can sometimes arrive very suddenly.
It is always possible to write off your vacation due to a change of mind, but there will be a fee to pay for a refund.
Unfortunately, this is the price of traveling in times of crisis, but at least it allows us to escape all the same.