For the next 4 weeks, I was supposed to be traveling back to Malaysia, spend 2 weeks home, attend a wedding, then meet up with hubby for a week-long trip in Japan. Obviously, all these are not happening. When I published this post in March, I was still hopeful that things would get better by now but obviously nope. The borders for most countries are still closed and international travel is still very much restricted. As of now, we have already cancelled/postponed two planned trips. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the world will figure out a way to get back to some sort of normalcy over the next few months. Or else, 2020 will officially be the "cancelled" year.
Fortunately, I booked all our trips with points and miles and they can be changed/cancelled fairly easily. The travel waivers issued by airlines and hotels in the last 3 months have also been helpful. Kudos to all these companies for doing the right thing during such difficult times. The following are my experiences dealing with multiple changes/cancellations for two separate trips.
Carolinas Road Trip - Cancelled
This was an impromptu trip booked in early March, just before the whole stay-at-home situation started in the US. I decided to book this road trip mainly because of the following factors:
I was quite happy with the itinerary I pieced together to fully utilize all the 'free' travel perks instead of forfeiting them. However, after considering the fact that we will be visiting families with elderly and toddlers, we decided to cancel this trip. Better to be safe than sorry. We can always plan for another road trip in the future. This decision turned out to be a blessing in disguise...
Southwest LUV voucher/Travel fund extension:
National One Two Free extension:
Malaysia/Japan - Postponed
We booked this trip last November and as usual, the destination/timing was decided by yet another 'expiry date'...my Marriott 7-night travel package that was expiring on 18 June 2020. After our Japan trip in 2017, we concluded that Japan would be our preferred destination to use the travel package because Japan has so much to offer, and we don't mind spending a full week staying at the same place.
Since we are already traveling all the way to that part of the world, it made sense for me to tag on my annual home trip and coincide the timing with my friends' wedding, Yes, I'm efficient like that...lol! After some intense trip planning, I managed to piece together a perfect itinerary (in my opinion) that involved 7 separate flights and 2 hotel bookings, all with points and miles.
Well, since Japan is still requiring all visitors to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, we decided to postpone our trip, especially while airlines and hotels are providing travel waivers and more flexibility. We decided to postpone the trip to the end of the year because I still need to use the travel package before the extended expiry date of 31 Jan 2021, and my cousin's wedding is planned for December.
As you can see above, my perfect itinerary means lots of 'fun' cancelling each individual bookings. I was dreading having to call the airlines/hotels but surprisingly, it was much easier than I expected. We were able to cancel/change everything with no fees, and only forfeited $12.50. Here's my experience dealing with each airline/hotel:
We had 3 separate award bookings using United miles. United was one of the easiest one to cancel because I was able to do everything online without calling. I was able to log into our accounts to cancel the flights without any fees. The miles were redeposited immediately, and all taxes and fees were credited to our credit card within 2-3 days. I chose to cancel instead of changing our existing flights mainly because I would have more flexibility by rebooking now (by June 30).
We had 2 separate award bookings using Alaska miles. Technically, I should have been able to cancel the flights online but because we had a schedule change in our flights, the system wouldn't allow me to make any changes/cancellations online. These two flights were the ones I wanted to book asap. Once I found availability online, I called and was able to get through to a customer rep almost immediately. She offered to help change our flights to the new dates. When I asked if our new flights will be eligible for free changes/cancellations in accordance with the travel waiver, she said that the old ticket rules will still apply and any subsequent changes/cancellations will be subject to fees. The free changes/cancellations only apply for new bookings. Glad I asked before she made the changes, so I asked her to cancel both tickets instead. The miles were redeposited almost instantly and I was able to book the new flights immediately online.
Honestly this was a ridiculous one to even put any effort into changing or cancelling because I paid only $3 (RM 12) for this domestic flight. However, since Airasia is giving me the option to cancel the flight and get a credit for future use, I decided to explore how the process works. Everything was done through the AI chat system (AVA). I provided the booking reference and my personal information, clicked on the option for Credit, and all done. The flight was cancelled and I received the credit within 2 days. Simple enough!
Of all the airlines, Scoot's Covid policy is the least flexible one, as the flexible option is only applicable if Scoot cancels your flight. Fortunately, my flight was cancelled by Scoot so I'm eligible for a credit or refund. Since I used Krisflyer miles to redeem for my flight, I decided to call to request for a redeposit of my Krisflyer miles. The customer rep emailed me a refund form to complete which I've completed and emailed back 2.5 weeks ago, but my miles are yet to be redeposited. I will call again in the next 2 weeks to make sure that my flight is cancelled before the flight date.
This was another one that I had to call because I don't want to mess up my travel package by making any changes/cancellations online. Fortunately, the customer rep knew what she was doing and was able to detach my travel package from the original booking, extended the expiry date, and attached it to a new booking with the new dates.
This was a normal award booking so I was able to easily cancel it online as we no longer need it.
Overall, I'd say that my experiences changing/cancelling our travels have been very pleasant. No doubt, it's disappointing that our travel plans need to be postponed for now, but there are many people dealing with bigger issues and facing hardships during these challenging times. We are both very thankful to still have our jobs and have not been adversely impacted by this whole situation. I'll stay positive and hope that the 2nd half of the 2020 will be better. Till we travel again.
"Soon, we will step out from behind our screens.
We will look each other in the eye - instead of the camera.
We will clink glasses.
We will exchange hugs.
We will travel again.
Until then, stay healthy, stay positive.
We'll be waiting."
- Marriott Bonvoy
January 2021 December 2019