INDIANAPOLIS – Local travel agencies claim they are seeing more and more people looking to book trips.
“People have piled on their desires to travel,” Victoria Fricke of Vic’s Vacations told CBS4. “Everyone wants to travel.”
But many have said that they are not yet sure whether it is safe to book a trip. Others wonder if it’s financially sound, not knowing what the pandemic will bring.
Things to consider before booking a flight
Hire a travel agency!
“A travel agent is going to make sure you don’t get the pitfalls of unfortunately showing up at the ticket counter at the Indy airport and not having the right documentation or right test and so on,” Fricke said.
Fricke often said that agents have relationships with each of the resorts they work with. They know in detail their travel requirements and restrictions.
“Each resort has a different policy, so you have to understand the policy,” explains Fricke. “Some offer you quarantine; it’s covered for free, you don’t have to pay for it. Others, you have to pay for it. You have to know what you’re getting into, what the resorts offer, should something go wrong.”
Some cities and resorts require their visitors to be vaccinated. Others ask tourists to show proof of a negative COVID test prior to their stay.
What happens if I test positive or have to quarantine last minute before or during my trip?
If you test positive or need to quarantine prior to your flight, an advisor can rearrange your flights for you.
“We just put it off,” said Alex Kutin of Travel Leaders Indy. “We will help change the flights and inform the resort that the customer will be a few days late.”
Kutin often said that travelers will not receive financial sanctions because of this.
Some airlines offer more flexibility than others. For example, Delta requires you to pay extra for a refundable ticket. Southwest offers “no cancellation, no change fees” as long as it is more than 10 minutes prior to a flight. United offers a 24-hour “flexible booking policy”, which allows customers to change or cancel their reservation and still get their money back in most cases.
“I’d recommend pre-testing, even if you don’t have to, to make sure you’re not bringing a little friend on this flight,” Fricke said.
What if I test positive during my vacation?
Overseas tourists will be required to pass a COVID test before returning to the United States. If a person tests positive while on vacation, agents have seen it in a number of ways. For example, Fricke said the individual would test again that same day and then again three to five days later. Kutin has seen people test every day until they were negative.
“What will happen is that the resorts themselves will help extend the airfare,” he explained. “They test the customers every day until they test negative so they can come back.”
In some cases, but not all, tourists have to pay an additional $100 per person per night to stay longer and quarantine. That includes board and lodging and room service.
“But he’s not on the beach either. You’re locked in your room,” Kutin said.
Fricke has had two such cases. She said she and her clients were able to sort things out quickly. Her advice? Bring the necessary medicines, just in case, and bring your computer and charger so you can work remotely.
Do I need to take out travel insurance?
Every agent we spoke to answered with a resounding “yes”.
“If someone goes to a destination and misses a flight and has to go to a hotel, who is going to pay? If you have travel insurance, the travel insurance pays for it,” Kutin said. “Lost your luggage or if you are somewhere at a destination and you get hurt, injured or sick, the travel insurance covers that too.”
“Travel insurance is always worth it,” Fricke agreed. “It always costs so much less.”
According to the Department of Financial Services, whether travel insurance will cover the cost of COVID-related issues depends on policies. Now that we are two years into the pandemic, many companies have started offering such coverage. Travelers often need a doctor’s note confirming illness in order to make a claim.
Regardless of what type of illness a person has, the DFS encourages customers to read the fine print and shop for policies that include a “cancel for any reason” protection. It suggests that you look for policies that specifically exclude pandemics, COVID, and all related variants.
Data shows that insurance plans can cost up to 10 percent of the person’s prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses. For example, if a family were to book a trip that cost $5,000, their travel insurance would likely cost between $250 and $500. Travel insurance companies usually weigh the age of those traveling, the number of people traveling and the length of the trip before providing a quote.
Travel agents confirm they get busy. Because so many places operate with limited capacity, many cruises, hotels and resorts fill up faster than usual. They suggest that people book their vacation at least ten months in advance.
“We’re seeing things get stuck because if I canceled my spring break when the world came to a standstill, I shifted it to next spring break and now maybe next spring break,” Fricke noted. “The supply and demand will only hurt consumer prices, so you want to get in before it gets too high.”
Suggest a correction