PORTLAND (WGME) – Making travel plans during the coronavirus pandemic is turning out to be frustrating and confusing.
Thousands of people thought they would be getting on planes at the Portland International Jetport. However, while the jetport is still open as an essential mode of transportation, hundreds of flights are canceled and if they’re not, many people just don’t want to travel right now.
Auburn resident Donna Paul and her husband and their friends are among those who have canceled their trips.
“We were supposed to Myrtle Beach. We should be there right now, actually,” she said.
“By the beginning of March we realized this is not good,” she said.
Neither is the refund policy for the condo they rented on the beach, Paul said.
Paul said they have seen “nothing at all” credited for the rental they booked with Vrbo, which is encouraging hosts to offer a full credit or refund at least 50 percent for those who have canceled their stays during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Who knows. Maybe we would have used Vrbo at a later time but I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know, so we just wanted to have our money returned,” Paul said.
Records show the owner of the property is only offering the 50-percent refund.
“I think it’s unfair,” Paul said.
Vrbo competitor Airbnb said guests can cancel for a full refund.
The company said it will pay hosts 25 percent of what they would have received to make up for the lost money.
Most hotels are giving refunds if guests cancel but they said it may take as long as three months to process that refund.
Travel agent Liz Beausang is working around the clock to help her customers get refunds.
“It’s such a full time job to take care of my clients I’ve had to turn people away who called to ask for my help when they booked it on their own,” Beausang said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation said it is fielding an increasing number of complaints from air travelers who say they have been denied refunds for canceled flights.
The agency said airlines have to give refunds if they cancel a flight.
While travelers who cancel their own reservations are not entitled to a refund, most airlines are issuing credits or travel vouchers.
“With the airlines your best bet is to wait until the actual flights have canceled,” Beausang said.
Online travel agencies — like Expedia and Priceline — now have online cancellation pages because they can’t keep up with the spike in calls.
They said to check those sites before calling and to keep in mind that they can’t issue a refund without the hotel or airline signing off.