I haven’t been to Grand Canyon in over a year so needless to say, I was excited to visit the place with my friend. Unfortunately, my friend had to cancel her trip to the US and we had to cancel all the subsequent trips. She had a sudden surgery and was bedridden. She thought about postponing the surgery for the trip but her doctor insisted that the surgery was urgent. She called to ask and of course I told her that her health was more important. It was really hard for her to take time off from work so she was really upset but we decided to push back this trip.
Which meant, we had to cancel all the reservations for tours and hotels. Usually when we plan for vacation/trips, we don’t plan to cancel them. But we cannot plan for unexpected emergencies that come up. This is one of the reasons why I usually try to read all the fine print and book things that can be cancelled before the trip, if need be. With most international trips, I try to book that can be cancelled because you can never be sure what will happen during an international trip. You can plan for A, B, and C but you might need plan Z.
In our case, we had several hotels, rental car, tour and flights booked for the trip. Many companies have 48 hour cancellation policy, which means if you cancel 48 hours in advance, you would get 100% refund. Of course, you would need to check the fine print. They will tell you when you can cancel and what you would get back.
I was able to cancel my hotels, rental car, and the tours. One problem was the flight. These days, flights have gotten harder and harder to cancel. Most of them are non-refundable unless you buy the more expensive ticket(I mean, who buys those tickets?! The fare difference is like $500+). However, if you have an emergency such as surgery or death in the family, you can cancel the flight and get a refund. You would need to send them documentations such as death certificates or doctor’s note.
In our case, the airline we used could not give us the full refund in cash but they were able to give us full credit for future flights. We had to email them about the situation and the agent was able to give us more information on the process. We had to get a doctor’s note about the surgery. Since my friend was getting the surgery in Korea, I asked if the note could be in Korean, and the airline said it was okay. So we sent an email with our flight information and the doctor’s note and the airline gave us the full refund in credit.
One thing to remember is that the agents are human too. They understand that things happen. So if you are lucky, you might find a nice agent who is willing to accept your situation and refund you. However, it will be almost impossible to get the refund back as cash unless it is one of the situation above. They may give you back the funds in form of credit as a courtesy. So please do not demand money back or yell at your agent. They are doing their job and will try to help you as much as they can(whatever their capacity might be).
[Note: In previous trips, I was able to get a full refund due to a death in the family. The process was a bit tedious. When you call the airlines, they make you talk to their claim team and the team sends you a bunch of links where you have to submit documents. I know they will accept the documents in any language as I submitted them in Korean and they took them]
So we were not able to go on our trip this time but there will be a next time! I look forward to planning the trip again with my friend in the near future.