Despite being in the thick of a global pandemic, many people are still thinking about travel. In fact, as we nostalgically look back on a time when a lazy beach vacation or summer trip to Europe was easy, I would argue that society is thinking about future travel plans more than ever.
Some of the questions I’ve heard include: When this is all over, what is going to happen to travel? Will it be cheaper than ever before? And if we have pre-existing travel plans, should we be canceling?
It seems that airlines are now cruise lines are offering incentives for not canceling tickets but what should we know about this?
Remember that airlines want to keep your business – when a flight is cancelled, airline systems usually rebook you on the closest available alternative schedule and assume you accept the changes unless you state otherwise. When that’s not possible (or not acceptable) to the traveler, airlines encourage you to make other free changes to the date or destination, even if that travel is far into the future.
For noncommittal travelers, they’ll offer credit vouchers for future flights. For instance, one report out there says that American Airlines is offering at least some passengers a 20% bonus when they opt for a future travel credit with the airline instead of a cash refund for the flight.
Airlines are also making it easy to change or cancel reservations, with self-service options online and automated voucher issuance. Compared to calling in and sitting on hold for hours, it’s easy to understand why customers settle for these offers. Frontier Airlines previously offered a limited-time waiver policy that incentivized passengers with an extra $50 credit if they voluntarily canceled an itinerary for travel between March 22 and June 17.
This strategy has also become popular in the cruise industry- Cruise lines are offering incentives to passengers to get them to accept travel credits instead of cash refunds, airlines are copying a strategy that has become widespread in the cruise industry. Most major cruise lines in recent weeks have begun offering passengers on canceled sailings a bonus credit of 15% to 25% if they choose a credit instead of a cash refund.
On Royal Caribbean, for instance, passengers on canceled trips can choose between a full refund or a future cruise credit in the amount of 125% of the fare paid for the canceled trip. The credit can be applied to any voyage through Dec. 31, 2021. Royal Caribbean has canceled all departures worldwide through April 10, as have all other major cruise lines. Some lines have canceled sailings even further out.
Other cruise lines offering a 25% bonus credit to passengers who forgo a cash refund include Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Seabourn, Silversea, Viking, Windstar and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. River line AmaWaterways is offering a 15% bonus. Greek Islands cruise specialist Celestyal Cruises is giving out a 20% bonus.
What if you booked through a third party agency? – If you booked through an online travel agency such as Expedia or Priceline, your first point of contact should be the agency. They will process your refund since they were the company who collected your original payment. There are a few exceptions – particularly with air travel- if your flights is operated by a low-cost carrier, the travel agent will redirect you. If your flight qualifies for reimbursement but a refund isn’t offered, customers have another option. The federal Fair Credit Billing Act gives you the right to dispute a charge for services not provided if you purchased the airfare with a credit card. Typically you’re required to make a good-faith effort to resolve a problem directly with the merchant first. Be sure to call the airline before initiating a chargeback and document your efforts.
Overall –Couple main takeaway points – It’s nice to see that at least some airlines are providing an incentive for taking a travel credit instead of refund. However, keep in mind that if you do take an airline up one one of these offers and your new flight gets canceled, the airline will not provide a cash refund down the line. – It’s also important to take note of when your travel credit will expire as ticket credits are often only valid for a year from the date that the ticket was originally issued.
North Lake Tahoe is the kind of place that truly has something for everyone. A place where your soul can wander and your spirits can soar higher. With 12 unique towns and ski resorts, hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, dozens of beaches, exciting gaming, 120+ eateries, and the largest alpine lake in North America, this all-season destination is great for all ages and all members of the family. Recently my family and I got to experience the enchantment, beauty and adventure of North Lake Tahoe for ourselves, and here were some of our favorite spots…
Granlibakken – Located in a peaceful 74 acre wooded valley, Granlibakken offers cozy cabins in a secluded mountain escape with direct access to hiking and biking trails. Additional amenities include yoga classes in the Soul Shelter yoga and meditation space and the onsite Tahoe Treetop Adventure Park. Granlibakken’s Sled Hill is also a great allure, being on site – the historic ski and sled area is split between a beginner and intermediate ski hill and a 300-foot long sled hill, perfect for any family adventure.
Ski at Alpine Meadows – Tucked between Truckee and Tahoe City, Alpine Meadows Ski Resort is a picturesque playground for off-the-radar thrill-seekers. At Alpine Meadows, skiing and riding experiences always come first. From easy-riding progression parks to wide-open bowls, Alpine Meadows brings an exciting challenge to any level of skier or snowboarder and breathtaking views from every chair lift. Not too big and not too small, it’s a great one day or multi day ski stop.
Bridgetender Tavern and Grill – Located at the historic Fanny Bridge, is a great apres-ski scene offering riverfront drinking and dining in a relaxed, rustic tavern. A great spot to grab a Sierra Nevada and pull up a stool after a long day on the slopes.
Chickadee Ridge – This three mile, family-friendly trail offers a great snowshoeing adventure for visitors of all skill levels. But ‘Chickadee’ isn’t just part of the trail’s name – adventurers can say hello to these friendly little birds by offering them birdseed. Keep an eye out for them, specifically the black-capped chickadee (also known as “Cheeseburger birds”), which are some of the most human-friendly birds around.
Commons Beach – Hot or cold out, don’t miss your opportunity to touch the lake at Commons Beach and relax by the water.This four-acre family-friendly beach and park located lakefront on Tahoe’s North Shore. Great for swimming, sunbathing and hosting picnics/BBQs….as well as just walking the docks and enjoying the crystal waters and mountain views.
Tahoe East Shore Trail – Once a dangerous and difficult area of the shoreline to access, the newly-paved multi-use East Shore trail hugs the shoreline and expands for nearly 3 miles down to Sand Harbor. The trail offers some of the most stunning views of the lake. Make sure to take lots of footage!
Sunnyside Reatsuarant and Lodge – Located in Tahoe City, this award-winning restaurant with an expansive dining room, serves a menu full of mouthwatering appetizers and refreshing cocktails, and boasts a stunning outside deck overlooking the West Shore. Be sure to arrive by sunset over the lake, and order up some fried zucchini to start your meal.
Jakes on the Lake in Tahoe City – A lakeside restaurant serving California cuisine and priding itself on treating guests with “mountain aloha” hospitality, this family-owned restaurant features an abundance of fresh seafood, high-quality meats, and seasonal produce. The menu is inspired by Californian & Hawaiian flavors so be sure to try their Ahi Poke Roll or Fish Tacos for a coastal feeling lunch on the lake.
West Shore Cafe & Inn in Homewood, – A next level cuisine stop with with chef-inspired menus that change with the seasons, with the opportunity to sit on the restaurant’s stunning lakefront balcony. Dedicated to sourcing their food from local and organic farms the West Shore Cafe’s menus change with the season and doesn’t disappoint. Every dish here is exceptional and unique – full of flavor. If they are still making it, be sure to order up the House Burrata with grilled seasonal fruit, lavender truffle honey and focaccia.
The Lone Eagle Grille – Enjoy sunset cocktails and light eats by the water at the Lone Eagle Grille lounge. Here you can sit outside by fire pits and and enjoy views of their private beach, while savoring a a warm craft dessert cocktail as you take in the stunning Tahoe sunset. Try the “Almond Joy” – a hot chocolate with coconut rum, amaretto and whipped cream, or the “Grounded Eagle” – Starbucks coffee with Godiva chocolate liqueur, Baileys and Grand Marnier.