We've heard from many clients about their concerns surrounding the spread of the coronavirus around the world. We know that this is scaring a lot of people, and we've made it top priority to get quick respones to all of our clients with factual, timely, and accurate information. We also know that many have concerns about future travel even though you haven't reached out, and we want to help you too.
Our service exists to provide peace of mind through your travels, so with that charge, we're posting some of the more frequently-asked questions we've seen regarding coronavirus. If you aren't a client and have a trip you're concerned about, you can always sign up for service here at crankyconcierge.com. And if you've purchased travel from another source and aren't getting the answers you need regarding refunds, take a look at our new Refund Hunter service.
As you undoubtedly know from the wall-to-wall news coverage, this coronavirus (now named COVID-19) outbreak began in the Hubei province in China. It has since spread worldwide with cases in the US rapidly surpassing the rest of the world. Here are some answers to frequent questions.
Is the world ending?
Probably not for billions of years, but it might seem that way thanks to the incessant news coverage, dire government warnings, and images of people wearing masks in public. This coronavirus is more infectious than the average flu and it like has a higher mortality rate, currently estimated to be 7x or 8x the regular seasonal flu. Since we won't have a vaccine for some time, it remains a threat for travel.
Isn't it risky for me to travel right now?
This coronavirus primarily kills via respiratory issues. Certainly if you are elderly or have an elevated respiratory risk (reduced lung capacity, regular smoker, lung disease), traveling is not a good idea. For everyone else, you should be sure to obey your local stay-at-home orders. If you need to travel, there are things you can do to keep yourself safer.
How can I protect myself from getting coronavirus while traveling?
Since this virus appears to be flu-like in many ways, the regular precautions you would take during flu season apply here and will be effective in lowering your chances of getting coronavirus, the flu, or even a common cold. Here is the advice that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet between you and others.
- Wear a cloth face mask if you have no symptoms and a medical face mask if you are showing symptoms.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze if you have no mask on. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
- Clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces. TSA now allows you to bring on a 12 oz container of hand sanitizer when you fly.
- Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.
I'm still anxious. Can I cancel my trip?
You can always cancel your trip, but there will likely be costs involved unless you have a fully refundable ticket or your flight was canceled/changed by the airline. Some airlines aren't allowing refunds at all even if canceled. Just assume that regular fare rules apply for our clients unless you hear from us. That means that if you have a non-refundable ticket, you can't get your money back.
If you aren't yet a client, you can sign up for our new Refund Hunter service to track waivers and refund options.
Are there any waivers in place so I don't have to pay the fees?
There are many change fee waivers in the market, and if you'd like more detail for your trip, just let your team know. This would allow you to not pay the change fee, but any fare difference would apply. There are very few waivers in place for refunds, but if you are signed up for our service and are impacted, we will email you.
How do I know if I can get a refund without penalty?
In short, if you have a trip we're monitoring already, we'll tell you. We are spending most of our time monitoring airline waiver policies and communicating with those who fall under the waiver guidelines. You can always email your team if you have questions.
If you aren't yet signed up, you can sign up for our new Refund Hunter service to track waivers and refund options.
Can I go to Hawai'i?
You can, but you may be sitting inside for awhile. For travel to Hawai'i between now and May 20, everyone coming from outside the islands will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. Other states in the US may have similar quarantines required for specific areas.
I'm traveling this summer, and I'm wondering, should I reconsider?
We would suggest not making any changes right now. It is early, and there is hope that summer travel can again happen. Airlines have started modifying their schedules, so even if you don't cancel, the airlines might. We will let you know when that happens, if it's for a trip booked under our services or for Refund Hunter clients.
Should I get travel insurance?
Unless you actually get sick, it's unlikely that travel insurance is going to help you much here. Insurance policies will not allow you to get a refund just because of fears about potentially catching a sickness. The only exception would be if you have a "Cancel for Any Reason" policy which allows you to, well, cancel for any reason. You should check with your insurance provider to be sure.
That being said, we always strongly recommend travel insurance in case you do get any kind of illness before or during a trip. We've found that InsureMyTrip is great for comparing options and costs across multiple providers. We've set up an affiliate link with them, so you can start searching here.
I want to stay updated, but the news is scaring me. What's the best way to get information?
If you'd like to keep tabs on what's happening, the World Heath Organization puts out daily Situation Reports that give a full rundown. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also regularly updates a Situation Summary that has more of a US focus.
Do you mind if I email you?
Of course not! That's why we're here. If you are feeling concerned, just send a note to your team, and we'll be happy to respond. If you don't have a team, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. As mentioned, we are working through the weekends to try to get timely responses, but worst case you'll hear from us during regular business hours of 7am to 5pm Pacific Time Monday through Friday excluding major holidays.
Can you sum this up?
Sure can. Here are some highlights. For more info, scroll up to learn the details.
- Don't panic
- Take normal precautions like you would for the flu to prevent from getting sick plus common sense moves like wearing a mask when outside your home
- We'll email you if airlines have changed your plans or if refunds are available
- Don't change your summer plans; it's too early to know what's going to happen
- Email your Cranky team (or email@example.com if you have none) if you have questions
- Did we mention not to panic?