Know Your Rights For Canceling South Asia Travel
Article Originally Published at: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/news/7oys/print_010505_7oys_tsunami_travel.html
Jan. 5 — As tsunami relief efforts continue in Asia, many are having to decide whether to go ahead with planned vacation in those areas.
7 On Your Side's Michael Finney explains your rights as a traveler.
To go or not to go is the question from one of our viewers. Before you decide to cancel that trip of a lifetime, you should know, once you signed on the dotted line, it's not that easy to completely pull out.
The U.S. government has issued a warning to all Americans to avoid non-essential travel to tsunami-affected areas of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. But what about those people who already booked travel months ahead?
Jack Young, Clement Travel: "The phones have been ringing and people coming in asking about health, about drinking water, about devastation about what areas they should or should not travel. Fortunately no one has canceled yet."
If you decide to cancel, there are some things you should know.
Al Anolik, travel rights attorney: "Being uncomfortable because it's a death scene, it's devastating, it's terrible. But that usually is not enough to break a contract that two people have entered into."
According to Anolik, tour operators have the right to maintain the travel contract by modifying the itinerary for more desirable locations.
Some credit card issuers provide travel insurance that may cover certain canceled trips but that depends on the terms of the contract.
Al Anolik: "Very little travel insurance allows you to change your mind. It has to be a medical problem. And anticipating the possibility of a medical problem isn't going to be enough unless statistics are showing there are a lot of sick people there."
Those who haven't purchased travel insurance have another option. Under the fair credit billing act, consumers have 60 days from the time of their statement to cancel the charge if they believed they are not going to get services they paid for.
Major airlines are making it easier for travelers to cancel or postpone their trips to tsunami-affected areas.
Cathay Pacific will waive change fees to all customers with tickets to these areas issued on or before December 26th, as long as the change is made by the end of January.
United Airlines will also waive its change fee. Passengers must make the bookings by February 28th.
Thai Airways will refund certain tickets to Thailand until January 31.
There are available options now to make changes to that planned holiday to Asia. Make sure you make those changes within the deadline window set by the airlines.