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Got your shots? Let’s get moving

Photo via Getty Images

With three pandemic vaccines available today and several more waiting for approval, there’s little reason to remain under house arrest. The opportunity has arrived, but you have to take steps to ensure that any arrangements you made before the world shut down are still in the pipeline for you.

Under new CDC guidelines, those who have had their shots and waited two weeks, can get around without a mask. But it is strongly recommended that when flying or in close proximity to others, that masks be work.

Cruises and airlines have a variety of regulations for redeeming prior bookings and not all of them may be in your favor.

Surprise! Why would anyone think that tickets to a resort area made early last year on a cruise ship or flight to somewhere would still be available. Most airlines and cruises favor the companies. But not all. Many airlines, for example, gave vouchers to passengers who would not fly because of COVID-19.

Now that conditions have eased, and you may be safer, don’t simply assume that the vouchers have not disappeared. There were literally millions of passengers who canceled flights out of fear of contracting the virus. In some cases, those numbers took place in a single day, delivering a massive financial blow to travel companies.

And, the government isn’t always on your side. The Department of Transportation determined that people who chose not to fly or were no longer considering it, are eligible for a refund only if the airline either canceled the flight or made significant changes to the itinerary.

But the picture is not totally bleak. Sans a refund, in many cases the airline issued vouchers may still be used for a finite period of time. Airline spokespeople note that with travel on the uptick, the carriers have a massive number of vouchers floating around. And much of the original payments by prospective passengers had already been spent on fixed costs.

Be aware that many, if not all of the vouchers may be expiring in the near future. It’s up to the traveler to immediately contact airlines and cruise firms to find out what the situation may be. In many cases, the travel outfitters will work with you rather than lose future business. But be aware that they will not contact you to see what you want to do. Call them and be persistent. Don’t get overbearing. Don’t threaten. And above all don’t yell at the gatekeeper. In this case sugar will bring about better results than vinegar.

Most travelers don’t realize the power that gatekeepers (those at the podium in an airport or on the phone for the cruise line) have. In most instances they will work with you to reach a reasonable solution. We booked a cruise for April but will not be able to use it until next winter and paid for cancelation insurance. We contacted the booking agent and discussed the problem with him. We informed him that we did not want to cancel, only to postpone. He began to work things out and told us that we could cancel for a full refund less the trip insurance premium. However, if we decided to keep the booking for the later date he would provide an upgrade and an on-board credit of several hundred dollars. Then he thanked us for being understanding.

Understand also that policy varies from airline-to-airline and cruise line to-cruise line. One airline representative commented that her airline has extended the validity of vouchers given during the pandemic and will work with customers to provide flexibility.

The bottom line here is be polite, ask what can be done, explain extenuating circumstances, and let them know you are looking forward to traveling with them in the future.

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