canceling vacations en-US Booking Got Bumped? Your Vacation Cancellation Recourse <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/booking-got-bumped-your-vacation-cancellation-recourse" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="" alt="sleeping on airport floor" title="sleeping on airport floor" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Any savvy traveler knows to check the fine print before making travel plans. We generally know that <a title="hotel deals" href="">hotels require notice if we cancel our stay</a>, and that <a title="airfare deals" href="">airlines won't let us switch departure dates</a> without paying a fee. But what happens if the vendors, and not you, are the ones who change your plans? (See also: <a title="How to Book an Amazing Cheap Vacation Package" href="">How to Book an Amazing Cheap Vacation Package</a>)</p> <p>Unfortunately, most online travel vendors are mum on the topic, using their FAQs and Terms and Conditions to lecture us about <em>our</em> limitations, but say little about what happens if the itinerary changes come from their end; travelers then almost always have to consult customer service reps directly and are often met with case-by-case conditions. So, to make sense of some of your travel plan's fine print, we've complied some guidelines for understanding your course of action when a vacation packager changes your itinerary after you've booked.</p> <h3>How Vacation Packages Work</h3> <p>To understand where responsibility lies, you need to be aware that there are several types of vacation package-selling websites. There are aggregator sites like <a title="BookingBuddy" href="">BookingBuddy</a> and <a title="Cheapflights" href="">Cheapflights</a> that search the web for package deals; when it comes time to book, these sites usually send you to the actual travel site where the package was found. These travel metasearch sites collect a commission but don't actually handle your reservation. In that vein, you shouldn't expect these vendors to take an active part in customer service matters.</p> <p>Another kind of online vacation package vendor cobbles together getaway elements (<a title="40 Most Useful Travel Websites That Can Save You a Fortune" href="">flight and hotel deals</a>) itself and sells them under its own banner. The vacation package arms of airlines (i.e., <a title="Southwest Airlines Vacations" href="">Southwest Airlines Vacations</a>), <a title="Expedia guarantee" href="">Expedia</a>, <a title="Travelocity deals" href="">Travelocity</a>, and flash sale sites like <a title="Groupon deals" href="">Groupon Getaways</a> fit into this category. These sites act as intermediaries between you and the original vendors. They also have vested interests in their deals, and typically require their vendors to meet certain standards and offer quality products and services.</p> <p>And a third &mdash; and more rare &mdash; type of vacation package seller is the charter packager. Sellers like <a title="Funjet" href="">Funjet</a> and Chicago's giant <a title="Costa Rica package" href="">Apple Vacations</a> often combine their own non-scheduled <a title="travel deals" href="">flights with hotel stays</a>, which they have a heavy hand in vetting. These companies often take the most responsibility for your satisfaction and have customer representatives on the ground at the destinations they serve, thus making them the easiest travel agents to deal with should your agreed-upon package change.</p> <h3>Who's Responsible?</h3> <p>At least on paper, most of the major vacation sellers wash their hands of a lot of responsibility when it comes to snafus in your travel plans. Hotwire, in its FAQ, informs you that it is &quot;<a title="Hotwire agreement" href="">acting solely as an intermediary</a>&quot; by assembling vacation packages. The terms go on: &quot;Airline tickets available through this Site are subject to the published conditions of carriage and rules of the applicable airline.&quot; The same applies to hotel rooms, which are &quot;subject to the published conditions of carriage and rules of the applicable hotel.&quot;</p> <p>If your itinerary changes, you can bet that just about every travel site and agency will tell you the same thing: Talk to the specific airline or the hotel you reserved a seat or room with. Initiating complaints, once you know where to start, is the easy part, and it's best to remember that you're not on your own, despite what your vacation planning customer service rep might say.</p> <p>Here's a simple chain-of-command to keep in mind; your air ticket is ruled by the company from whence it came &mdash; the airline. And if you've booked a commercial flight, you've agreed to the airline's FAA-mandated Contracts (or Conditions) of Carriage. These terms contain rules that require the airline to commit to certain services. In the old days, these policies were printed in microscopic type on the back of paper tickets, but now, you can always find this info on airline websites, or behind the link next to the little checkbox reading &quot;I agree&quot; just before you buy.</p> <p>More specifically, this contract binds the airline to transporting you to your destination any way it can; and if it can't do so on the day you contracted for, it will pay for your overnight hotel if you are stranded. For example, American Airlines promises that if it can't send you on the flight you were sold, &quot;<a title="American Airlines agreement" href="">you will be rerouted on [the] next flight with available seats</a>.&quot; If the delay or cancellation was caused by events within their control and they do not get you to your final destination on the expected arrival day, they will provide reasonable overnight accommodations, subject to availability. <a title="Delta agreement" href="">Delta's agreement is similar</a> (PDF).</p> <p>You may arrive later than you want or you may not have a direct flight, but the terms of this contract only require the airline to get you to your destination, not to deliver quick travel or convenience. If that means you miss 10 hours of your vacation because your air arrangements changed, legally speaking, the airline has still fulfilled its obligation. However, some airlines agree to grant a full refund if the flight changes and you reject the new routing. American Airlines Vacations, for example, has explained that &quot;the passenger is always entitled to a full refund for an AA schedule change if the ticket has been paid for.&quot; But for cancellations other than flight schedule changes, the airline still falls back on its published Contract of Carriage, which may delay your flight significantly &mdash; but legally.</p> <p>If you think an airline has broken its Contract of Carriage, you can file a complaint with the government's <a title="Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement" href="">Aviation Consumer Protection and Enforcement agency</a>, which tightly regulates the airline industry.</p> <h3>What to Do When a Vendor Changes a Reservation</h3> <p>While the airline industry is bound by federal laws to fulfill their Contract of Carriage, hotel booking regulations are more of a free-for-all. Sometimes, hotels bump reservations and claim they're overbooked or that they're under renovation, effectively shunting customers to another property across town.</p> <p>What's more, a gap in consumer protection laws means that legally, hotels can essentially do what they want with your reservation. Christopher Elliott reminds us that <a title="hotel cancellation regulations" href="">states have differing regulations</a>, and that most hotels have the authority to change your reservation before you check in, which can leave you without a roof over your head. If this ever happens, here's what you'll want to do:</p> <p>First, contact the airline or the hotel property directly and try to work it out with them. You'll want to be open to accepting alternative accommodations if necessary. But if the hotel won't budge, some customers opt to file a lawsuit against the hotel for not holding up its end of the agreement, though this is both a time- and money- consuming option.</p> <p>So, if you lack the time, energy, and resources to sue, it may make you feel better knowing that even airlines often have trouble dealing with properties. &quot;Hotels do not care what happens to the air [tickets] and are not compassionate,&quot; complained one airline vacation package executive, who asked to remain anonymous. She adds that when bookings are bumped, &quot;the hotel portion is refunded [to the customer] and we try to get money back from the vendor, [but] many times this does not happen.&quot;</p> <p>However, if you had booked your getaway through a powerful vacation packager, you've now got a powerful alliance. Although their legalese will tell you it's not their responsibility to ensure that your hotel accommodations are in place, they can exert pressure on the establishment to set things straight. With market competition and reputations on the line, even a shifty hotel wouldn't want to lose the referrals that come from a mighty <a title="Priceline" href="">Priceline</a> or Expedia. So, if you can't come to terms with the property itself, appeal to the company that sold you the package to begin with. The booking company has a reputation to uphold, and in many cases, as mentioned, will eat the cost of hotel reservation to make you happy.</p> <p>In this regard, a Priceline representative said the following: &quot;Of course we'd speak to the supplier on the customer's behalf if there's an issue.&quot; Hotwire also stated that it works with the hotel to make sure that its customers are rebooked in a same or higher quality hotel at no extra cost. Even BookingBuddy, one of the sites that merely serves as a third-party matchmaker between travel sites and customers, says it only &quot;rarely&quot; needs to get involved &mdash; which means it does if necessary.</p> <p>Although it's not promised up front as part of a purchase, the airline-run packagers, including <a title="Southwest Airlines vacations" href="">Southwest Airlines Vacations</a>, will also go to bat for the consumer. Says a spokesman at <a title="American Airlines vacations" href="">American Airlines Vacations</a>: &quot;In the case of a hotel being overbooked and the vendor advises us in advance, we contact the customer [and] advise the alternative, which normally is the same star rating or higher. If the customer does not approve, a refund is given in full, paid for by the vendor.&quot;</p> <h3>Tips on How to Minimize the Chances of a Vacation Package Predicament</h3> <ul> <li>Always read the Terms and Conditions for each element of travel (air, hotel, etc.) before purchasing.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you don't know your vendor's policy for involuntary substitutions, ask before buying.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Choose larger hotels with more rooms because they have less potential for overbooking.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Choose a brand (i.e., Starwood, Marriott, Hilton) that has an established customer service culture and runs other properties in your destination location in case you are bumped.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Book with a charter packager such as Funjet Vacations, which explicitly <a title="Funjet bill of rights" href="">promises full refunds</a> (PDF) if fights are delayed more than two days or if your agreed-upon hotel changes.</li> </ul> <p>If someone else changes your vacation package plans, it's up to you to sort it out with the businesses that handle each component of your trip. If that doesn't work, the major vendors will usually try to help you if you have indeed been wronged, despite the fact that this role isn't officially part of their top-line policies. Which means that although the web may have made buying travel easier, actually getting what you pay for remains as big a muddle as ever.</p> <p><em>This is a guest post by </em><a href=""><em>Dealnews</em></a><em>.</em></p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> What happens if the vendors of your vacation package change your plans? Here are some guidelines for what you can do. </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Dealnews</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">5 Money Saving Travel Gadgets</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">5 Fun Ways the Sharing Economy Helps You Save on Vacation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">4 Ways to Take a Frugal Grownup Spring Break</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">The 6 Best Vacation Deal Websites</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">7 Ways That Anyone Can Travel for Free</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Travel booking flights canceling vacations vacation Mon, 23 Apr 2012 09:48:08 +0000 Dealnews 915074 at Taco Tuesday: The Inner Mechanics of Budgeting on Vacation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/taco-tuesday-the-inner-mechanics-of-budgeting-on-vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src=" to budget on vacation.JPG" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoPlainText">I recently found myself sitting around a dinner table in <st1:state><st1:place>Hawaii</st1:place></st1:state> with a number of new traveling acquaintances. We met at the place of accommodation we were staying at, and enjoyed each other&rsquo;s company, sharing travel tales of adventure and misadventure alike. So when &ldquo;Taco Tuesday&rdquo; presented itself as a way to get super cheap beers and tacos, we jumped at the opportunity to enjoy a night on the town all together. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Interestingly, Taco Tuesday became a fascinating study in the spending patterns of people on vacation. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">John and Wendy, having nipped over to <st1:state><st1:place>Hawaii</st1:place></st1:state> for a quick break before embarking on a major move across the country, didn&rsquo;t have huge money concerns, but were trying to be frugal knowing that their upcoming move would cost them dearly. Dave and Angie were finishing off a trip around the world, having been on the road for eight months already through countries both expensive and inexpensive. They played hard during their trip, but their stash of cash was predictably dwindling (an expected bi-product of good budgeting through their long trip). Julie was a very young headstrong woman figuring out where she belonged in the world, and <st1:city><st1:place>Wayne</st1:place></st1:city> was an older gentleman on an extended vacation. Rounding out the group (in addition to myself) was Phil, who was something of a nomad, living and working in <st1:state><st1:place>Hawaii</st1:place></st1:state> for a bit before moving on to the next locale that tickled his fancy. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">I describe each friend&rsquo;s background in an effort to paint the picture; one of a group of people, all originally from <st1:place>North America</st1:place>, but bringing an entirely different set of experiences, finances, and travel values to the table. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Where things got interesting was in how people indulged on Taco Tuesday. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">John &amp; Wendy decided that cheap beer was more appealing than cheap tacos, and so they engineered their budget for the night to partake of the beer (at $2/bottle), and prepared their own full dinner at the house we were staying in prior to going out. Dave &amp; Angie being well-seasoned travelers chose to fill up on some home-made appetizers prior to going out, and each nursed one beer and a taco or two. Julie simply had Coke (not only was she young, but she was broke and underage), and Wayne (who had gads of money) flew under the radar with one beer and two tacos. And then there&rsquo;s Phil. Poor Phil. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Phil was definitely out for the party and camaraderie, but didn&rsquo;t have much money to spare given his lifestyle. This didn&rsquo;t seem to stop him from indulging though; he managed to order seven tacos, and four beers &ndash; not the beers on special though &ndash; premium beers. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Phil&rsquo;s tab ended up being more than everybody else&rsquo;s tab &ndash; combined. No wonder he was broke and working during his trip. He listened to tales of faraway and exotic destinations with drooling enthusiasm &ndash; and a bit of melancholy, as he wished he had the ability to travel to these places, but couldn&rsquo;t scrape together even the airfare if he had to. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Here&rsquo;s the rub: <strong>The amount of money spent on this night was in no way correlated to how much fun each person had.</strong> Everybody laughed, shared stories, enjoyed the leisurely walk along the ocean to and from the bar, and came away with great memories. If anybody, Phil seemed the least enthused about the night, spending much of the walk home doing the math about how many hours he would have to work to pay for his tab. At least he had a good buzz on to dull the financial pain. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Despite a range of financial backgrounds and intrinsic values, the people who had the <a href="" target="_blank">ability to spend a wad of dough</a> that night chose not to. Most people ate something at home prior to going out, so they wouldn&rsquo;t be starving and end up over-eating at the bar. The tacos were cheap &ndash; but they weren&rsquo;t cheaper than a healthy homemade snack or meal. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">So how do you budget on vacation and still have a good time? In short, <strong>make your vacation and having fun in general a state of mind, not a set of criteria or a checklist of experiences that must happen. </strong><o:p></o:p><o:p></o:p></p> <ul> <li>You don&rsquo;t have to eat at all the finest restaurants in order for it to be a special vacation. <o:p></o:p></li> <li>You don&rsquo;t have to splurge on <a href="" target="_blank">souvenirs</a> for all your friends and family at home to prove you had a good time. <o:p></o:p></li> <li>You don&rsquo;t have to spend extra for the helicopter tour just because you&rsquo;re on vacation and &ldquo;why not&rdquo;. The bus tour at a fraction of the cost can be just as much &ndash; if not more &ndash; fun. <o:p></o:p></li> <li>You DO have to focus on the people. Enjoy the company of others without needing to spend money. Go to the grocery store and buy a bunch of different cheeses, a bottle or two of wine, and sit in the park (assuming you can drink wine in the park). It&rsquo;s cheap (when you split the cost across the group) and cheerful. <o:p></o:p></li> <li>You DO have to focus on your surroundings. Forget splurging &ndash; you&rsquo;re already on vacation; that&rsquo;s the splurge! You&rsquo;re already abroad and seeing, smelling, touching, and listening to foreign and refreshing things. Soak it all in. <o:p></o:p></li> </ul> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">If you have a ton of cash and insist on spending luxuriously whilst on vacation because that is what defines a vacation for you, then that is fine. You will (hopefully) be spending within your means and having a good time. Kudos. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">But <strong>if you don&rsquo;t have a lot of money</strong>, and are even considering canceling this year&rsquo;s vacation because you aren&rsquo;t sure you can afford it, maybe this is an opportunity to re-evaluate how you spend your money on vacation. <strong>Where can you compromise?</strong> <o:p></o:p><o:p></o:p></p> <ul> <li>Would you accept a lower standard of accommodation (maybe you have to walk further to see the sights, or contend with a shared bathroom and kitchen) than you are used to? <o:p></o:p></li> <li>Could you eat more home-cooked meals (provided you stay somewhere with a kitchen) despite the fact that cooking is a chore, in order to enjoy everything else your destination has to offer? <o:p></o:p></li> <li>Is it feasible to drive instead of fly? Maybe even to camp along the way, and even at your destination? (A family I know drove &ndash; and camped &ndash; all the way to <st1:state><st1:place>Alaska</st1:place></st1:state> and back from <st1:state><st1:place>Alberta</st1:place></st1:state>. The journey was one that created a lifetime of memories for everybody). <o:p></o:p></li> <li>Will your vacation still be complete if you don&rsquo;t do all the organized tours available, and instead soak in the culture with long walks and just a few key tours? <o:p></o:p></li> <li>Can you sit at a restaurant or caf&eacute; and enjoy the culture without ordering the expensive <a href="" target="_blank">lattes</a> or entrees? <o:p></o:p></li> </ul> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Check out <a href="" target="_blank">this article</a> for a few more ideas on how to enjoy a frugal vacation by making innocuous compromises. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><strong>Here is a little exercise for you to define your vacation needs:</strong><o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Pull out a blank piece of paper and a pen. Now start writing down words that you associate with vacation. Don&rsquo;t worry about sentences or specific locations or even making sense; just write down words that for you define &ldquo;vacation&rdquo;. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Is it &ldquo;<em>sun, sand, ocean, palm trees, pina coladas</em>&rdquo; or &ldquo;<em>foreign languages, art, music, museums</em>&rdquo;? How about &ldquo;<em>animal life, markets, nature, new friends</em>&rdquo;? <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">What are your vacation words? And how many of these terms that define your vacation directly correlate to spending a lot of money? I would argue that very few people define their vacations with &ldquo;<em>fancy restaurants, limos, expensive tours, and red carpets</em>&rdquo; unless they already have the financial capacity to enjoy these things at home. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText"><o:p>&nbsp;</o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">By defining your vacation desires, and reframing your vacation needs, and <a href="" target="_blank">being creative</a> where you can, you just may find that you can budget on vacation and not feel like you have sacrificed a thing. <o:p></o:p></p> <p class="MsoPlainText">Happy travels!<o:p></o:p></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">6 Luxe Travel Destinations That Are Cheaper in Winter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">7 Secret Tips to Make Your London Vacation Cheaper and Easier</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">40 Most Useful Travel Websites That Can Save You a Fortune</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">9 Things You Should Never Skimp on When Traveling</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="">How to Book an Amazing Cheap Vacation Package</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Art and Leisure budget vacations canceling vacations excursions frugal vacations lavish vacations trips vacations Fri, 12 Dec 2008 21:12:10 +0000 Nora Dunn 2644 at