If you’re nervous about the recent swine flu outbreak and want to cancel an upcoming vacation to Mexico, you might want to read this before calling your travel agent.
In the last 24 hours, I’ve received several e-mails like the following one from reader Aaron Kyle.
I have booked a vacation package to Cancun from Phoenix through Travelocity and now need to cancel my trip due to the swine flu outbreak. I contacted Travelocity’s customer service department and they said that they needed to contact the hotel in order to see if a refund is available.
When I tried to contact the hotel myself, the Fiesta Americana Condesa said that I will need to get a refund through Travelocity! I am going around in circles trying to get a straight answer.
They didn’t allow the $100 shuttle fee to be refunded by Olympus Tours, and they said I will have to contact the airlines on my own to make changes.
This is a disaster….can you help?
The United States has imposed no additional constraints or limitations on travel between the United States and Mexico. Travelers are encouraged to comply with suggestions by Mexican public health officials and to be alert to good health and sanitation practices.
Personally, I think it’s too soon to cancel a Mexico vacation unless you’re visiting an area that’s directly affected by swine flu. If the outbreak is contained, a trip to Cancun will probably be infection-free.
Travelocity is listing the airlines with flexible change policies on its site, but it isn’t saying what it would do to help a customer cancel a vacation. In fact, it would be impractical to allow customers to call off their vacations now, because travel agencies would then have to allow customers cancel trips to California, Kansas, New York, Ohio and Texas, where the swine flu has made an appearance.
The next 24 to 48 hours will be interesting. If swine flu is contained, we can all get on with our lives and continue traveling.
If it isn’t, then all bets are off. Everything will come unraveled, and even if you booked your vacation through an online travel agency, it’s hard to imagine a scenario where you won’t be forced to deal directly with each airline, hotel and car rental agency to negotiate a refund or a re-do.