9 tips to minimize travel related loss due to Corona Virus scare

If you have an upcoming travel but now want to cancel because of Corona Virus scare, what are the ways to minimize your loss? How to get maximum refunds?
If you had booked a more flexible tickets you will probably get a cheaper cancellation options, but those who have booked cheapest tickets that come with maximum restrictions will have to face a higher risk. I don't have any magic pill to get you 100% refund but following tips will help you salvage the situation and minimize losses.

Tip 01: Do not rush to cancel flight tickets- Wait till travel date comes closer.
Cancellation fee of airlines will be same irrespective of how early you cancel. There is no point in cancelling months in advance. Wait till travel date comes closer. Cancel 2-3 days prior to departure date.

Wait for any of the following scenarios:
1. If airline itself cancels the flight you will get full refund.
2. Airline may announce a policy offering full refund or free rescheduling which you may avail.
3. In case situation improves before your travel date, you might still be able to travel as per plan.

Tip 02: Book only "free cancellation" hotels or Pay at property hotels so that you have high flexibility in case you've to cancel your plans. Else you will lose money unnecessarily. Booking.com has huge collection of such Free to cancel and pay at property hotels.

Tip 03: Day tours, activities can be booked after reaching destination.
Do not fall for marketing trap saying "things are getting sold out"- it will be cheaper, convenient and risk free to book day tours, activities at the destination, than booking online in advance.

Tip 04: Watch out how your airline responds to the situation.
Some airlines like Indigo are offering only "Free rescheduling" and not full refund. Some airlines may give full refund while other airlines may stick to their regular cancellation policy. This decision need to be made from top management- no point fighting with customer care executives or airline's twitter handle.

Tip 05: Remember to file for refund of airport taxes and fees
Even if your ticket is non refundable, airlines are required to refund airport taxes and fees. Different airlines have different process for this- be sure to apply and get it back- you will get back few hundred to few thousand rupees depending on domestic/international, which airport etc

Tip 06: Rescheduling is usually better than cancelling
You can postpone your trip by 6-9 months and hope things get better by then. If airline is expecting you to pay fare difference, wait for a sale or identify dates in future for which fares are same or cheaper than what you have already paid.

Tip 07: Travel insurance
Travel insurance doesn't cover your loss if you decide to cancel yourself. But it may come handy if you travel to a destination and return flight is cancelled or if you fall ill etc. Check the fine print carefully, if you feel a travel insurance policy will provide some compensation in case of risks/uncertainties, go for it.

Tip 08: Track what's happening on twitter
Follow airline's handle, check what other passengers are complaining about and how they are being serviced. This gives you an idea what to expect when you want to cancel.

Tip 09: Watch out for any rescheduling
If airlines reschedule your flights more than 2-2.5 hours, you can use that as an excuse to claim full refund. This probability is very high if your travel date is few months from now and also involves a connecting flight. As airlines try to cut loss making routes, your flight may get some kind of rescheduling if not cancellation, which you can use for your advantage.

To be fair to airlines, corona virus is not their fault. They are not required to take entire loss and give full refund to passengers as long as they are operating the flight. Most of them are already running in loss flying half empty. But at the same time, they need to retain the trust and loyalty of their customers because acting too strict will make passengers book with some other airline once situation improves. So it will be interesting to see how airlines manage this phase.

Aware of any more tips?

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