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How to cancel your holiday plans affected by the coronavirus

Follow these six steps to cancel your trip.

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Last updated: 31 March 2020

Australians can no longer travel overseas because of the federal government's travel ban in response to coronavirus (COVID-19).  Domestic travel has also been restricted by the closing of state borders. 

So how should you go about cancelling or rearranging your trip? Follow our six steps.

1. Do you want to reschedule your holiday or cancel it completely?

Arguments for rescheduling:

  • It will be easier and you're more likely to get 'yes' answers. If you want to cancel, you'll hear 'no' a lot more, which will take energy and persistence to overcome.
  • You won't lose as much money as cancelling. If you cancel, your travel insurer may not cover any leftover expenses. If you're relying on your travel insurer to give you money, contact them before you cancel, because if they won't cover you, you may stand to lose less by rescheduling.
  • You'll need a good holiday when this is all over!

Argument for cancelling:

  • Right now, you need money more than you need a holiday, and you're ready to fight for it. Proceed to step 2.

2. Are you due to depart in the next three days?

If yes, go to step three.

If not, sit back, stay calm, and tackle this issue later. Travel service providers such as airlines, travel agents, travel insurers and cruise companies are currently swamped. Wait times on phone lines are many hours and often end in dropouts. Now is not the time.

3. Ask the travel agent or third-party booking site for a refund (skip this step if you booked directly with the provider)

In general, whoever you gave the money to is who you'll need to get it back from. If they refuse to cancel or offer credit vouchers you don't want, be persistent. Keep on asking and escalating your request.

Keep a record of all the actions you've taken and the out-of-pocket costs you're left with.

If you booked with a third party that has since been declared bankrupt, such as Fly365, read our advice on credit card charge backs.

4. Ask the airline for a refund

Most airlines are currently offering credit vouchers instead of refunds. If you're happy to accept a credit voucher, move onto step five. 

If not, persistence, again, is the key. Keep on asking and escalating.

Keep a record of all the actions you've taken and the out-of-pocket costs you're left with.

5. Ask the accommodation, cruise and tour providers for a refund

Again, most will offer you a credit voucher or change of booking instead. If you're happy to accept a credit voucher, move onto step five. 

If not, you guessed it – persistence is the key. Keep on asking. Keep escalating.

Keep a record of all the actions you've taken and the out-of-pocket costs you're left with.

6. Lodge a travel insurance claim

This is the point where you'll need all the records and documentation you've been keeping. Travel insurers want lots of proof. So take all that documentation, total up your out-of-pocket costs, and submit a claim with your travel insurer.

If the travel insurer says no to your claim, ask them to point out the specific clause and page of your product disclosure statement (PDS) they're relying on. 

If you don't agree with the travel insurer's reason for denying your claim, raise an internal dispute with them.

If you're still not satisfied with that outcome, lodge a dispute with the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.