We've heard from many clients with increasing concern about the spread of the coronavirus around the world. We know that this is scaring a lot of people, and we've been working through the weekends to make sure everyone who has reached out with concerns about how coronavirus will be impacting their travels gets a quick response. We also know that many have concerns 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.
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 spreading quickly. 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 may have a higher mortality rate. Since we won't have a vaccine for some time, it remains a threat.
Isn't it risky for me to travel?
This coronavirus primarily causes respiratory issues. Unless you are elderly or have an elevated respiratory risk (reduced lung capacity, regular smoker, lung disease), traveling in general does not appear to be substantially more risky than it is during the peak of flu season, especially with lower load factors on airlines. There are precautions you can take to protect yourself just as you would from other illnesses.
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 World Health Organization provides.
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Maintain social distancing of at least 3 feet between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.
- 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. 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 that primarily apply for new bookings as well as previous bookings that travel in the near term. If you are eligible for these waivers, we are emailing you as we see them come in. 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.
There are more substantial waivers in place for outbreak hotspots or countries with severe travel restrictions.
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.
What's the deal with Europe?
Though Italy already had restrictions, the President of the US announced that he would ban all foreign nationals (read: not US citizens or permanent residents) who had been in any of the Schengen region countries in Europe during the previous 14 days from entering the US. This will go through April 11 at the very least. While US citizens can continue to travel, they will be subject to additional screenings (details aren't clear) upon return. They can also only return to primary US gateways. Airlines are working hard to figure out their plans right now. We are working through this as quickly as we can, and we are reaching out to clients as soon as we know more.
Can I go to Hawai'i and Florida?
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. For Florida travel, only those in the Tri-State Area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) are currently being asked to self-quarantine.
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 good news in that the outbreak in China appears to have crested. Though it will continue spreading around the world, there is hope that by the time the summer rolls around, this panic will have reason to largely subside.
Of course, you may be concerned about, say, summer travel to Italy now, but it might be another destination that has a great number of cases by the summer while Italy cases may be on the decline. We just don't know how this will play out, but we will be watching.
At this point, if you have summer plans, we would suggest you keep them. If you don't, it's up to you if you want to keep planning, but we are here and happy to plan that trip. Just think, it could be a rare opportunity to see Italy without the crazy crowds! As summer gets closer, we will continue to reach out to those who (if any) are impacted depending upon how this coronavirus spreads.
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
- We'll email clients if they are eligible to make changes under an airline waiver without penalty, otherwise just assume that the regular published rules apply
- 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?