Chances are you have some travel vouchers waiting to be used. With vaccines becoming more readily available to larger groups of eligible people, you may be itching to go somewhere different than your backyard. But what’s the best way to make use of your vouchers?
Travel in general, airlines in particular, and even the government are not the enemy, the virus is. Even in times of war, you don’t fight your own government. Resistance is towards the enemy. For most of us this pandemic may be the closest thing we’ve experienced to an actual war, so a similar analogy applies. Save your resistance for the actual enemy: this virus. As such, travel may not yet be a good idea. As far as we know today, you can only get Covid from other people. So unless you want to get sick, see less (or no) people and stay closer to or at home for the time being.
Meanwhile, instead of leaving negative comments on every airline or government post on social media about “still not having a refund“, lets focus on what you can do, with better results. Here’s 5 ideas. Because we will travel again.
1. Check the validity and terms of your vouchers.
For most airlines the expiry date for your voucher means you’ll have to book travel by the expiry date. You don’t always need to have to travel by that date. This meansing you may be able to secure a flight for up to a year past the expiry of your voucher, as long as you make the booking by that expiry date. Double check the validity of your vouchers, as well as the terms associated with that date. Some airlines, blur the lines and issue different types of vouchers. I’m no fan of United, and it came to no surprise to me that they’re muddying the waters here with different types of expiry dates.
For example: I have several airline vouchers expiring in June, for which I only have to book a new flight by that date for travel up to 12 months from that date. This effectively buys me another year. If you were to book a more flexible ticket option, you may even be able to change the ticket again and keep pushing it back. Especially in these times airlines have been more flexible than previously. Keep in mind most airlines will allow you to book up to 11-12 months from today’s date, which includes the return flight.
2. Extend the validity of your voucher.
You can try asking the airline to extend the validity of your voucher. I’ve had some of mine extended from 12 to 24 months by simply asking. Recently, smaller extensions have happened with a month or so at a time. It never hurts to ask. Then, use the tip above to possibly push it by another year.
3. Check your trip cancellation insurance.
I usually choose to not buy trip cancellation coverage, but if you have any you may be eventually eligible for a refund that way. Keep in mind insurance is legally a transfer of risk which covers potential future damage. Until that damage occurs they won’t pay out. That means that as long as you have a valid voucher you have had no damage, at least not yet, according to most insurers.
The financial damage occurs when your voucher expires. Once that happens, you may be able to file a claim with your insurance company, provided you bought the insurance policy when you booked your trip. Alternatively, coverage may have been included by your premium travel card provider. Check to see what you may qualify for, it never hurts to ask.
4. Contact airlines through private chat.
Don’t like spending time on hold for hours? Forget about calling the airlines, and use their online chat instead. You may have to wait a few days for a response, but it’s more fun than waiting on hold. In my experience, via chat you’ll usually get the same response.
While it may take some time for the initial reply, once an agent responds to the chat they’re fast in following up from that point onward and resolve many issues quickly. I’ve been able to get vouchers extended, and entire itineraries put on hold and eventually rebooked for future travel.
5. Be kind.
Ask for what you want within reason, but be kind. While I don’t tolerate poor service, there’s never an excuse for poor customer behaviour or rudeness either. No matter how much you may dislike the situation, or the lack of options, remember there’s another human being on the other end of the line – whether a phone line or the chat screen.
You’re a guest in their business, not the owner, so you will have to abide by the rules of that business. Of course you can take your money elsewhere, but leave the misplaced sense of entitlement behind that’s been showcased to frequently by the recent increase in “unruly” passengers.
Most airline agents, when asked, are more than willing to help you and are more flexible than they used to be before the pandemic. Refunding your non-refundable bottom price fare may not be an option, but following the guidelines in this post there will be other options to explore.
6. Making better future travel plans
A more exciting option, is to start making some plans for future travel experiences. Throughout 2020, I’ve continually put my travel hacking principles to work. I may have not been able to travel, but I have collected more points and vouchers than I’ll need for years to come. That’s not meant to impress you, but to impress upon you that you can do the same, if you wish.
You can start by checking out the Travel Revolution today. We’re offering a complimentary preview for a limited time. Because we will travel again.Find out more