Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

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fortfun
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Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by fortfun » Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:25 pm

We had a 31 day trip through central/eastern Europe planned for this summer starting June 28. I think we will begin the cancellation process soon but wanted to get a second opinion. We are not in the high risk age group but aren't spring chickens either. I'm assuming the virus will still be going strong by then.

Also, we purchased travel insurance for this trip--way before the corona virus even started. This further complicates the decision as I'm not sure whether we should just get credits from the airline or start pursuing other options (refund) with the travel insurance. Curious to hear other's thoughts on which option to pursue. I'm not even sure if the travel insurance covers a pandemic.

The only thing that makes this a bit urgent is the possibility of re-scheduling a more remote vacation here in the states. I really don't want to start planning a second vacation before the first one is cancelled.

Thanks for any suggestions!
Fort Fun

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JonnyDVM
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by JonnyDVM » Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:54 pm

There is no way it will be a good idea to go to Central Europe in late June. I would definitely bag it.

I would go through the airline first. Most carriers have been reasonable about offering credits.

I have a trip to Mexico end of May planned through Costco. That’s not happening either. They seem to focusing on more immediate travel plans so I’m just waiting to cancel at this point. Sorry about your trip.
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mchampse
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by mchampse » Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:01 pm

I would first see if you can get refunds from the airline/hotels. If not all of them will give a refund, inquire with the travel insurance. If you don't get made whole between those avenues, I would wait and try again in a couple of weeks and then keep trying until you can get a full refund for everything.

student
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by student » Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:17 pm

fortfun wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:25 pm
I'm not even sure if the travel insurance covers a pandemic.
My understanding is that it does not unless you have one that let you cancel for any reason. https://www.aarp.org/travel/travel-tips ... erage.html

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JonnyDVM
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by JonnyDVM » Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:25 pm

student wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:17 pm
fortfun wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:25 pm
I'm not even sure if the travel insurance covers a pandemic.
My understanding is that it does not unless you have one that let you cancel for any reason. https://www.aarp.org/travel/travel-tips ... erage.html
All insurance is the same. “Ohhhh I’m sorry. You didn't read the fine print. Pandemics are generally covered but pandemics causes by Coronaviruses specifically are excluded....”
I’d trade it all for a little more | -C Montgomery Burns

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ResearchMed
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by ResearchMed » Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:33 pm

student wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:17 pm
fortfun wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:25 pm
I'm not even sure if the travel insurance covers a pandemic.
My understanding is that it does not unless you have one that let you cancel for any reason. https://www.aarp.org/travel/travel-tips ... erage.html
When did you start the travel insurance.
Even CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) may not cover pandemics UNLESS you started the policy before some date in approx mid-January (for the policies I've read about).

You also might want to browse and ask on the Travel Insurance section of www.CruiseCritic.com - most of the issues there are *not* cruise-specific.

And if you used a travel insurance broker, then ask them asap. They can probably help guide you, including how to file/phrase a claim, if that seems possible.

Good luck.

RM
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fortfun
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by fortfun » Fri Apr 03, 2020 9:48 pm

Thanks for the helpful answers everyone!

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fortfun
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by fortfun » Fri Apr 03, 2020 9:50 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:33 pm
student wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:17 pm
fortfun wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:25 pm
I'm not even sure if the travel insurance covers a pandemic.
My understanding is that it does not unless you have one that let you cancel for any reason. https://www.aarp.org/travel/travel-tips ... erage.html
When did you start the travel insurance.
Even CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) may not cover pandemics UNLESS you started the policy before some date in approx mid-January (for the policies I've read about).

You also might want to browse and ask on the Travel Insurance section of www.CruiseCritic.com - most of the issues there are *not* cruise-specific.

And if you used a travel insurance broker, then ask them asap. They can probably help guide you, including how to file/phrase a claim, if that seems possible.

Good luck.

RM
Thanks RM. We purchased the policy back in December when we purchased the airline tickets. Before Covid19 even started. Not sure if that make a difference.

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ResearchMed
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by ResearchMed » Fri Apr 03, 2020 9:55 pm

fortfun wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 9:50 pm
ResearchMed wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:33 pm
student wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:17 pm
fortfun wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:25 pm
I'm not even sure if the travel insurance covers a pandemic.
My understanding is that it does not unless you have one that let you cancel for any reason. https://www.aarp.org/travel/travel-tips ... erage.html
When did you start the travel insurance.
Even CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) may not cover pandemics UNLESS you started the policy before some date in approx mid-January (for the policies I've read about).

You also might want to browse and ask on the Travel Insurance section of www.CruiseCritic.com - most of the issues there are *not* cruise-specific.

And if you used a travel insurance broker, then ask them asap. They can probably help guide you, including how to file/phrase a claim, if that seems possible.

Good luck.

RM
Thanks RM. We purchased the policy back in December when we purchased the airline tickets. Before Covid19 even started. Not sure if that make a difference.
Do you have CFAR?
If so, you are probably (I am not an expert and didn't sell you the policy, ahem!) okay.
It's like waiting until there is a named storm; then it's too late to buy travel insurance that would cover the weather, etc. But if you already had the policy, no problem.

But unless you have CFAR, you'd need to have one of the regular "covered reason", such as an illness, a family member too ill so you need to stay, etc.
But double check with the insurer or your travel insurance broker (start here if you have one).

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

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fortfun
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by fortfun » Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:00 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 9:55 pm
fortfun wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 9:50 pm
ResearchMed wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:33 pm
student wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 8:17 pm
fortfun wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 7:25 pm
I'm not even sure if the travel insurance covers a pandemic.
My understanding is that it does not unless you have one that let you cancel for any reason. https://www.aarp.org/travel/travel-tips ... erage.html
When did you start the travel insurance.
Even CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) may not cover pandemics UNLESS you started the policy before some date in approx mid-January (for the policies I've read about).

You also might want to browse and ask on the Travel Insurance section of www.CruiseCritic.com - most of the issues there are *not* cruise-specific.

And if you used a travel insurance broker, then ask them asap. They can probably help guide you, including how to file/phrase a claim, if that seems possible.

Good luck.

RM
Thanks RM. We purchased the policy back in December when we purchased the airline tickets. Before Covid19 even started. Not sure if that make a difference.
Do you have CFAR?
If so, you are probably (I am not an expert and didn't sell you the policy, ahem!) okay.
It's like waiting until there is a named storm; then it's too late to buy travel insurance that would cover the weather, etc. But if you already had the policy, no problem.

But unless you have CFAR, you'd need to have one of the regular "covered reason", such as an illness, a family member too ill so you need to stay, etc.
But double check with the insurer or your travel insurance broker (start here if you have one).

RM
Thanks RM. No CFAR but unfortunately do have a family illness that will probably qualify for the medical cancellation. I'll get on the phone with the company tomorrow and figure out the best way to proceed. Getting suggestions here, first, was very helpful. Many thanks. Ff.

MikeG62
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by MikeG62 » Sat Apr 04, 2020 7:07 am

fortfun wrote:
Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:00 pm

Thanks RM. No CFAR but unfortunately do have a family illness that will probably qualify for the medical cancellation. I'll get on the phone with the company tomorrow and figure out the best way to proceed. Getting suggestions here, first, was very helpful. Many thanks. Ff.
My in-laws had a trip booked to Portugal (from the US) this month. It was booked through a travel agent with a tour operator. Large trip with two dozens friends going (including the person who works at the travel company through which the trip was booked). In-laws paid for trip using their Chase Sapphire Reserve card, so they have travel insurance. About three weeks ago they began to get concerned about taking this trip. MIL has some health issues, so she went to her doctor and was able to get a medical note. After writing the letter, doctor said "good luck" as he had written a number of them in the last month and to his knowledge travel insurance companies were being very selective in approving claims for medical reasons at this time. She then contacted Chase and submitted the medical note hoping she would get reimbursed for the cost of the trip. No go. Chase denied the claim.

As it turns out the flight was cancelled by TAP two weeks ago as the destination country is in lockdown. Nonetheless, the tour operator is refusing to issue refunds claiming force majeure. Instead the tour operator has said they will issue them a credit to use for the same trip at the same time in 2021. In-laws not too happy about that. Complaints to their friend who works at the travel agency through which the tour was booked have been met with the response of "I'm dealing with the cards I've been dealt".

Sample size of one. I hope you are more successful in your quest to get a refund. Let us know how it goes.
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Cyclesafe
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by Cyclesafe » Sat Apr 04, 2020 9:28 am

OP, until the virus burns out and there is a vaccine distributed, one should remain where medical treatment is feasible. No one will welcome a stranger drawing on scarce resources.

We acted from February to cancel trips to Italy in April and Peru in June. We were pooh-poohed by vendors until things got so obviously bad that our sustained argument of impossibility resulted in partial refunds and postponements. We had at that point lots of documentation that will in retrospect indicate a callous disregard for our welfare which they have a common law obligation to safeguard. We recouped $9k of $13k and have a credit for $3k for a trip to be taken as of 10/2021. We view the latter at complete risk of the vendor going bankrupt and/or the future impossibility of them providing a safe trip even in late 2021. We continue to pursue our options for a refund without pause, but the system is now utterly dysfunctional. In other words, it's too late.

So, I would suggest the following.

For airfare, you'll need to wait until the airline actually cancels the flight. Then you might be able to apply for a refund rather than a voucher which will likely expire far before it is safe to actually travel. You'll need to push for a refund and to not take no for an answer. The system will tempt you over and over to just take the voucher and be done with it. Resist until you are faced with outright forfeiture.

For deposits and other pre-pays, you'll have to get in line. The vendor considers the money you have already paid to be their money and the person you've managed to reach on the phone views your money as contributing to their next paycheck. They will not give you your money back like an airline which may be obligated to do so by law. Reconcile with this for your own piece of mind and view any concession as a victory from total loss. If you are forced into postponing, as is very likely, make sure that the travel by date is at least two years out, preferably 3 or more. You don't want to go through this process again - ever. In any case, view any postponement with the idea that these "deposited" moneys will be lost forever in bankruptcy, or if a foreign vendor, into the ether.

Those of us who planned to travel during our retirement we will have to figure something else out.
"Plans are useless; planning is indispensable.” (Dwight Eisenhower) | "Man plans, God laughs" (Yiddish proverb)

PaunchyPirate
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by PaunchyPirate » Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:07 pm

I have cancelled most components of a self-booked 3-week trip to Ireland and Scotland for end-of-April to mid-May. For your airfare, I also recommend reading the current (and any future policy changes) from your airline if you didn't purchase a fully refundable ticket. As mentioned, they will probably let you cancel now with no penalty, but all you are going to get is voucher that may or may not be useful to you in the future. If you wait it out and stay on top of policies, you may be able to get a refund. If the airline eventually cancels your flight, your rights to a full refund are more likely to get acted on. In my case, the airline twice reworked my itinerary which significantly changed flight times. Then they just outright canceled the leg of the trip from Charlotte to Dublin and told me to call them to arrange an alternative flight. So I told them they had changed things so much that they made the trip unacceptable to me and I cancelled it. They refunded taxes and put my frequent flyer miles back into my account without the usual fee. However, the agent told me that the additional fee I paid for extra-leg-room seats was not refundable. Who knew that??? This fact is buried deep in links you must click on when booking the seats. Deceiving! Anyway, even though I reminded the agent that THEY canceled my flight, he would not budge on processing a refund. It was lost money to me. HOWEVER, I had noticed an online webpage on American Airlines website that let me apply for a refund (by supplying supporting evidence). I filled it out and told my facts and they processed a refund on the remaining seat cost the next day.

I cancelled all hotels without issues because I had not pre-paid any of them. Yay. I am waiting to cancel the Aer Lingus flights between Dublin and Edinburgh and back for much the same reasons as above. They have already moved me twice to new flights, but still within acceptable guidelines by refund rules in the EU. I'm hoping they eventually cancel the flight (they still seem to be selling seats on about 2 flights per day each direction). If they don't, I will process their "Get a voucher" option about 48 hours prior to the flight. They are offing a voucher for 110% of ticket price but I haven't seen how long it's valid for. I may or may not do this trip in the future, so it's a risk that this voucher will be of any value to me.

So... long story to say... do your research and you may want to wait it out for the above reasons.
Last edited by PaunchyPirate on Mon Apr 06, 2020 7:48 am, edited 2 times in total.

ColoRetiredGirl
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by ColoRetiredGirl » Sun Apr 05, 2020 10:13 am

Following- I am in the same boat.

stocknoob4111
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by stocknoob4111 » Mon Apr 06, 2020 3:04 am

if the airline cancels the flight you are owed the full amount in cash regardless of the reason and regardless of the type of ticket, period, no ifs ands or buts... this is per US DOT regulations and they have reissued guidance on this recently due to various complaints that the airlines are violating rules

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fortfun
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by fortfun » Tue Apr 07, 2020 3:24 pm

Cyclesafe wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 9:28 am
OP, until the virus burns out and there is a vaccine distributed, one should remain where medical treatment is feasible. No one will welcome a stranger drawing on scarce resources.

We acted from February to cancel trips to Italy in April and Peru in June. We were pooh-poohed by vendors until things got so obviously bad that our sustained argument of impossibility resulted in partial refunds and postponements. We had at that point lots of documentation that will in retrospect indicate a callous disregard for our welfare which they have a common law obligation to safeguard. We recouped $9k of $13k and have a credit for $3k for a trip to be taken as of 10/2021. We view the latter at complete risk of the vendor going bankrupt and/or the future impossibility of them providing a safe trip even in late 2021. We continue to pursue our options for a refund without pause, but the system is now utterly dysfunctional. In other words, it's too late.

So, I would suggest the following.

For airfare, you'll need to wait until the airline actually cancels the flight. Then you might be able to apply for a refund rather than a voucher which will likely expire far before it is safe to actually travel. You'll need to push for a refund and to not take no for an answer. The system will tempt you over and over to just take the voucher and be done with it. Resist until you are faced with outright forfeiture.

For deposits and other pre-pays, you'll have to get in line. The vendor considers the money you have already paid to be their money and the person you've managed to reach on the phone views your money as contributing to their next paycheck. They will not give you your money back like an airline which may be obligated to do so by law. Reconcile with this for your own piece of mind and view any concession as a victory from total loss. If you are forced into postponing, as is very likely, make sure that the travel by date is at least two years out, preferably 3 or more. You don't want to go through this process again - ever. In any case, view any postponement with the idea that these "deposited" moneys will be lost forever in bankruptcy, or if a foreign vendor, into the ether.

Those of us who planned to travel during our retirement we will have to figure something else out.
Thank you cyclesafe--very good points.

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fortfun
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by fortfun » Tue Apr 07, 2020 3:28 pm

PaunchyPirate wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 6:07 pm
I have cancelled most components of a self-booked 3-week trip to Ireland and Scotland for end-of-April to mid-May. For your airfare, I also recommend reading the current (and any future policy changes) from your airline if you didn't purchase a fully refundable ticket. As mentioned, they will probably let you cancel now with no penalty, but all you are going to get is voucher that may or may not be useful to you in the future. If you wait it out and stay on top of policies, you may be able to get a refund. If the airline eventually cancels your flight, your rights to a full refund are more likely to get acted on. In my case, the airline twice reworked my itinerary which significantly changed flight times. Then they just outright canceled the leg of the trip from Charlotte to Dublin and told me to call them to arrange an alternative flight. So I told them they had changed things so much that they made the trip unacceptable to me and I cancelled it. They refunded taxes and put my frequent flyer miles back into my account without the usual fee. However, the agent told me that the additional fee I paid for extra-leg-room seats was not refundable. Who knew that??? This fact is buried deep in links you must click on when booking the seats. Deceiving! Anyway, even though I reminded the agent that THEY canceled my flight, he would not budge on processing a refund. It was lost money to me. HOWEVER, I had noticed an online webpage on American Airlines website that let me apply for a refund (by supplying supporting evidence). I filled it out and told my facts and they processed a refund on the remaining seat cost the next day.

I cancelled all hotels without issues because I had not pre-paid any of them. Yay. I am waiting to cancel the Aer Lingus flights between Dublin and Edinburgh and back for much the same reasons as above. They have already moved me twice to new flights, but still within acceptable guidelines by refund rules in the EU. I'm hoping they eventually cancel the flight (they still seem to be selling seats on about 2 flights per day each direction). If they don't, I will process their "Get a voucher" option about 48 hours prior to the flight. They are offing a voucher for 110% of ticket price but I haven't seen how long it's valid for. I may or may not do this trip in the future, so it's a risk that this voucher will be of any value to me.

So... long story to say... do your research and you may want to wait it out for the above reasons.
Thanks PaunchyPirate! Come to think of it, the airline did change the flight time significantly (24hours) and I think we may have the option to cancel due to that! Checking now. Many thanks. Ff.

AlphaLess
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by AlphaLess » Tue Apr 07, 2020 3:29 pm

I expect that many ordinary activities might need to be evaluated with a lens of caution for the next 18 months.

Travel is one of those.

There are MANY, MANY reasons other than a COVID hot spot:
- canceled flights (for the return),
- inability to find lodging while stuck abroad,
- inability to report to work (and thus, losing ones job),
- you name it.
"A Republic, if you can keep it". Benjamin Franklin. 1787. | Party affiliation: Vanguard. Religion: low-cost investing.

TravelGeek
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by TravelGeek » Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:11 pm

MikeG62 wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 7:07 am

As it turns out the flight was cancelled by TAP two weeks ago as the destination country is in lockdown. Nonetheless, the tour operator is refusing to issue refunds claiming force majeure. Instead the tour operator has said they will issue them a credit to use for the same trip at the same time in 2021. In-laws not too happy about that. Complaints to their friend who works at the travel agency through which the tour was booked have been met with the response of "I'm dealing with the cards I've been dealt".
Did the contract with the tour operator they agreed to when booking the trip give the operator the option to cancel the trip and reschedule later without offering a refund?

If not, hopefully they paid with a credit card and can initiate a chargeback. Your state’s attorney generals office might also be interested to hear about this.

If yes, I guess there is a lesson here for everyone to read those contracts thoroughly in the future and consider if a reschedule due to unexpected circumstances is acceptable.

MikeG62
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by MikeG62 » Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:36 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:11 pm
MikeG62 wrote:
Sat Apr 04, 2020 7:07 am

As it turns out the flight was cancelled by TAP two weeks ago as the destination country is in lockdown. Nonetheless, the tour operator is refusing to issue refunds claiming force majeure. Instead the tour operator has said they will issue them a credit to use for the same trip at the same time in 2021. In-laws not too happy about that. Complaints to their friend who works at the travel agency through which the tour was booked have been met with the response of "I'm dealing with the cards I've been dealt".
Did the contract with the tour operator they agreed to when booking the trip give the operator the option to cancel the trip and reschedule later without offering a refund?

If not, hopefully they paid with a credit card and can initiate a chargeback. Your state’s attorney generals office might also be interested to hear about this.

If yes, I guess there is a lesson here for everyone to read those contracts thoroughly in the future and consider if a reschedule due to unexpected circumstances is acceptable.
The tour operator is claiming force majeure - unable to fulfill their obligation due to circumstances outside of their control. IANAL, but I don’t think it necessarily matters what is in the original T&C’s in this case (unless the T&C’s specifically address what happens with deposits in the event of force majeure). Also, may be governed by laws in Portugal. I don’t know anything more about their situation beyond what I posted above. My in-laws are not optimistic they are getting their money back.
Real Knowledge Comes Only From Experience

TravelGeek
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Re: Europe Vacation, Corona, and Travel Insurance

Post by TravelGeek » Tue Apr 07, 2020 5:51 pm

MikeG62 wrote:
Tue Apr 07, 2020 4:36 pm

The tour operator is claiming force majeure - unable to fulfill their obligation due to circumstances outside of their control. IANAL, but I don’t think it necessarily matters what is in the original T&C’s in this case (unless the T&C’s specifically address what happens with deposits in the event of force majeure). Also, may be governed by laws in Portugal. I don’t know anything more about their situation beyond what I posted above. My in-laws are not optimistic they are getting their money back.
While I don’t know anything about Portuguese laws specifically, European consumer protections in the travel space (and elsewhere) tend to be a lot stronger than in the US. So if this is a European tour company, that’s something to look into. And actually that is something their agent (the travel agent they hired to book the trip) should do. That’s their job. That’s why people supposedly pay them to be a middleman.

Who did they pay - the local travel agency or the tour company?

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