These expert tips will help you get a coronavirus refund

coronavirus refund

No one wants to travel after the coronavirus outbreak. But getting a full refund for your trip — ah, that’s another issue. I have a few expert tips that will help you get a coronavirus refund.

But should you cancel? Most travel companies now offer incentives to reschedule. Princess Cruises, for instance, is throwing in a generous cruise credit if you rebook your vacation.

That’s not the only reason to hold on to your travel plans. If everyone stays home, there might not be much of a travel industry left. And that’s not hyperbole. I’ve been hearing from people in the industry that if their customers stop traveling, they’ll be out of business soon. The airline industry is hitting up the government for $50 billion in grants, loans and tax relief.

Do you really want a coronavirus refund?

My 76-year-old mother, who canceled her trip to Europe last week, turned down a full refund. She said it was morally wrong to ask for her money back. The refund rules were clear when she purchased her tickets and tour, she said.

“Besides,” she added, “they need the money.”

Mom, if you’re reading this, please stop here.

I specialize in helping consumers get refunds for all kinds of travel products. If you’re not planning to travel, there are ways to get your money back, from negotiating strategies to card tricks.

Here are some of the most effective coronavirus refund tips:

Negotiate politely

That’s the advice of Laurie Guest, an author who specializes in travel and customer service. Focus on maintaining a relationship with the travel company. “Consider the depth of the relationship,” she says. “You might say, ‘After years of working together, I hope we can find a compromise that works for both of us.’ ” Guest is also a proponent of postponing, but not canceling, a trip.

Cite their own rules

Often, you don’t need a special waiver to secure a full coronavirus refund. Airlines give refunds when they make a significant schedule change. If a hotel isn’t open, you get all your money back. And if a cruise line cancels your itinerary to avoid a coronavirus outbreak and tries to rebook you on another sailing, you have the option of canceling. The terms of purchase outline when you’re eligible for a refund. It pays to read your ticket contract or the terms of purchase.

Hail them on all frequencies

Last week and over the weekend, a lot of readers were complaining about Expedia being unreachable by phone because of “technical difficulties.” Of course, there were technical difficulties; everyone was trying to call Expedia at the same time. But companies also have email addresses and online chat. They have Facebook pages and Twitter handles. No one wants to use them because they don’t get instant results, but those channels are often more effective.

Invoke your loyalty

Frequent-flier and hotel loyalty programs have become increasingly convoluted and irrelevant, but this is one of those times when the color of your card might make a real difference. A business can see how much your business is worth. “Members of hotel and airline loyalty programs can press the service providers to reward their past and likely future loyalty,” says Marcia Flicker, an associate professor at Fordham University.

Negotiate a little less politely

No, I’m not talking about throwing a tantrum — although I’ve seen plenty of those recently. If a travel company tells you to take a credit or leave it, you have options. A favored response is a little light social media pressure. Salila Sukumaran, a travel adviser based in Mountain View, Calif., says you need to be diplomatic. A friendly note on Twitter or Facebook may nudge the company into offering a refund. “If done tactfully and respectfully, such an act may get the money back,” she says. “However, if done poorly, you may be blacklisted by a small or medium-sized facility. People will remember the incident.”

Leverage your credit card

When Rachel Sheerin had to cancel a trip and obtain a coronavirus refund, that’s what she did. She called American Express Platinum and asked for help. A representative stayed on the line while Sheerin negotiated a refund. “The Amex concierge is a game-changer and has saved me lots of money,” says Sheerin, a frequent traveler and motivational speaker from Charlotte. Another benefit of making a credit-card purchase: If the company won’t offer a refund, you can dispute the charges.

Be patient when you ask for a coronavirus refund

A lot of travelers demand fast results, but that’s not always possible. In a few cases, flights left before travelers had a chance to cancel them. The airline wasn’t answering its phones. “Patience is key here,” says Philip Weiss, a frequent traveler who writes a travel blog about the nomadic lifestyle. If you want a refund for a canceled resort stay or cruise, put your request in writing as soon as possible and then wait. It could take a while, but eventually you’ll get your money back.

Don’t forget, if they cancel, you get a quick refund

For example, if the airline stops flying to your destination, the U.S. Transportation Department requires that the airline process your refund within seven business days if you paid by credit card and 20 business days if you paid by cash or check. You don’t have to accept a credit if you don’t want to.

None of these coronavirus refund tips should be necessary. That’s because it shouldn’t take much to move a company in the right direction, particularly now.

“This crisis is a real opportunity for companies to show empathy and prove to customers that they are willing to go above and beyond,” says Evan Nierman, who runs Red Banyan, an international-crisis public relations firm based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “Companies should not be focused on today’s crisis and responding in the moment. They should be focused on keeping their customers long term.”

But just in case you need to secure a full refund, now you have the means. What you do with this information is up to you. And I agree with my expert sources, including my mother. You might want to consider rescheduling your trip. You could save a whole lot more than your vacation.

Posted in The Navigator Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Global Rescue

Global Rescue is the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services. Founded in 2004, Global Rescue has exclusive relationships with the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations and Elite Medical Group. Global Rescue provides best-in-class services that identify, monitor and respond to client medical and security crises. Learn more about Global Rescue.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

%d bloggers like this: