Millions of people have had their travel plans ruined by the Covid-19 pandemic.
People have had weddings cancelled, family reunions ruined, holidays of a lifetime postponed and gap years turned into a lockdown at home.
Many are still waiting for refunds from trips scheduled for summer 2020 as the travel industry, from airlines and hotels to travel agents, struggles to cope with the surge for repayments.
Although we were lucky to travel just before the pandemic really took hold, we are not immune to travel disruption here at Flyingdog Travel.
Back in June, still full of optimism, we booked a trip to Vietnam next February.
At the time cases in many parts of the world were falling. There was talk of the world returning almost to normal by the Autumn or Christmas at the latest. We forgot to check which Autumn or Christmas they were talking about.
We did our research. We checked all the assurances that part of the travel industry were giving at the time. We decided that it was the wrong time for independent travel and the added protections given by a travel agent was the way to go. We got a good price and we paid our deposit.
Recently we had a decision to make.
The balance was due but the likelihood of the trip taking place seemed to be very low.
We had flights from Manchester (UK) on Singapore Airlines to Singapore and then onward to Ho Chi Minh City. We then had flights to Da Nang on VietJet before return flights from Dan Nang on Singapore Airlines.
On the plus side the UK had dropped the requirement to quarantine on return from Vietnam and Singapore. Vietjet Air were flying between HCMC and Da Nang and, as far as we could tell, all our hotels were open.
The negatives however was a much tougher list.
Flights from Manchester on Singapore had not yet started. In fact with a bit of research we found that they were not scheduled up to December – the furthest they were planning at the time. They had initially increased prices to over £1,200 during August / September before taking them off sale altogether. It did not look promising that they would be running by February.
Even worse, Vietnam were not only not allowing anyone into the country, there were indications that they were not even planning for an early return for tourists.
We were given a number of choices by our travel agent:
- Cancel all holiday plans and lose our deposit
- Carry our deposit over and use it on a multi-centre holiday later in 2021.
- Pay the balance and if it would need to be cancelled, receive a full refund. However it was likely that it would be a number of months before a full refund was received due to the number of companies involved and the rate that they were refunding claims. There was the possibility, that if Vietnam was letting people in, we could transfer our flights to and from London on Singapore.
It seemed to be a simple choice. Although we were getting guarantees that our money was safe if we paid the balance, the delay in getting it all back could delay our options in booking an alternative.
Option 2 it was then.
We now have a deposit sat on the books of our travel agent just waiting for us to be able to start being more confident making another booking.
The plan is to look at our options in January in the hope that we can travel early in 2021. If not we may need to wait until later in the year and widen our search for locations outside of Southeast Asia.
Watch this space.
Picture credit Jack Young on Unsplash
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