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Trip Cancellation [Lessons Learned]

Bed on the floor
My sleeping stations for the last month

The past month has been a rough one at the ol’ Casa de R & B. I have had some medical issues that have very inconsiderately interrupted a trip we had planned. Due to these unfortunate circumstances, B and I have been forced to do some research into trip cancellation and travel insurance. Here’s what we have learned:

Trip Cancellation: Flight

We booked flights from Boise to Raleigh, North Carolina, using the annual, free companion ticket that I get as part of my American Express card. When we called Delta to find out if B could go without me, we learned that companion fares mean you have to have a companion on the flight. So no dice. When I canceled, B had to cancel.

Fortunately, Delta has a medical emergency clause for tickets. I called and told them I had experienced a medical issue that would prohibit me from flying. The very nice lady told me that when bad things like this happen, Delta wants to help. I supplied her with the name and phone number of my doctor and she took the amount that we had purchased our tickets with and credited my account. We have until next summer to use the credit before it expires. We felt this was a really reasonable compromise on Delta’s part.

Trip Cancellation: Airbnb

We had reserved three different accommodations using Airbnb. Because each place can set its own cancellation policy, we had varying degrees of success with canceling reservations. We also had challenges because of when we wanted to cancel. I didn’t want to call it until the last minute in case I miraculously healed in time. Sadly, that didn’t happen and the time for the first house to cancel was closed so we had to cough up more money for the cancel. We ended up getting partial refunds on most of the places, so that was better than nothing.

Airbnb does have an “extenuating circumstances” policy that includes serious illness. However, the claim has to be submitted within 14 days of the extenuating circumstance. In this situation, we called it too late to take advantage.

Trip Cancellation: Car

We recently discovered some advantages to renting cars using my Costco card, namely that we can have two drivers without additional charges. Since the price for a rental car was comparable, we reserved from Costco. Another advantage of reserving this way is that there is no cancellation fee. I only had to cancel online and we were good to go.

Trip Cancellation: Credit Card Protection

The fine print discussing benefits on credit cards usually are never read by anyone, unless they are in a bad situation. Guess what? B read up on all of her fine print. Sadly, she learned that while most of her cards did have trip cancellation protection, the one she used to book for this trip (an American Express) did not. For future trips, we’ll make sure to book with cards that have this protection, just in case.

Trip Cancellation: Travel Insurance

We’ve talked in the past about how for the most part, we have never purchased travel insurance. When nothing has ever happened, it makes you think nothing ever will. Well, now that something bad has happened, we will probably think more about travel insurance in the future. It would come down to a cost/benefit decision for each trip, as boring as that sounds. Travel insurance is fairly cheap most of the time, so if the trip costs a lot, it is definitely worth looking into.

Conclusion

Bad things happen to everyone, but they are shocking and distressing when it is you (read up on dealing with disappointment while traveling). Luckily, we were able to cancel the Raleigh trip without too much monetary loss (albeit HUGE emotional/fun loss for me). Fortunately, one half of our duo was able to score a good deal on a fun last-minute trip. Half is better than nothing.

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