In 2020, the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission received a total of 126,412 complaints. Of these, there are more than 26,000 on travel companies and airlines as Australians are forced to abandon the itinerary they have paid for.
Words to look for
Offers are popping up, enticing consumers to re-book flights, accommodations and more, but before you commit, you really need to read the terms and conditions.
There are several shortcuts to finding essential items, according to the Consumer Options group.
“When you read the terms and conditions, look for words like cancel, refund, credit, force majeure, contract frustration, “Choice campaign director Erin Turner told the ABC.
“If you have a digital copy of the terms and conditions, use the search function as a shortcut.”
Problems with prepayment
During the pandemic, many travelers told the ABC they had paid for their trips well in advance.
In some cases, people have paid in full for flights or tours for months, or even years, before they leave.
If you paid this far in advance, you will need to have all your paperwork to apply for a refund.
Choice’s top tip for booking travel in 2021 is, “document it all.”
Consider booking options that don’t require you to pay up front and providers that offer quiet periods.
Dive deeper into the company first
In our digital world, it is easier than ever to check a review from an airline, hotel or travel provider.
Looking specifically at reviews from customers whose trips were canceled can help you decide who to book with.
Choice also recommends getting a COVID-19 policy in writing – whether you book with a large international hotel chain or a small caravan park.
Think twice before using a third party
Using a third party could mean a second set of T&C.
Is travel insurance valid during COVID-19?
There are several policies out there available to cover travel during a pandemic, but again, you really need to read the T&C carefully. The advice from the Australian Insurance Council is to check the policy product disclosure statement to make sure it will cover you for the specific type of travel you book.
“There are domestic and international policies available, but you have to adapt them to your needs and make sure they fit the journey you are booking,” a spokesman for the council told the ABC.
Reporting by Amy Bainbridge and Emily Clark