Refundable airline tickets versus non refundable airline tickets

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Apr 10, 2017
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#21
You should look at one of the recent posts on cruise and health insurance. A "healthy retired" couple paid for a cruise and 3 days prior the husband had his first kidney stone-trip canceled. No travel ins, they wondered why they could not get a refund. They were asking for insurance benefits without purchasing the insurance.

Travel insurance would cover this, as well as a broken leg or MVA prior to the trip. It also would cover illness/injury on the trip as well as repatriation (if that benefit was included). No traveler is "healthy" enough to safely travel outside the US without insurance. When I was 21 I went to London with a group; one member looked left and stepped into the path of a car coming from the right. He was REALLY REALLY healthy until he wasn't. Luckily for him, England has NHS, otherwise he would have been charged many $$$ which he did not have. As you know from your background, cr*p happens to healthy, careful people.

I spent 40+ years in Emergency Departments so I have seen it all. I recently saw a young widower traveling to ski with his 3 young kids. He fractured his femur; kids alone, can't drive, no family nearby. It was much more challenging to rearrange care for the kids than fix a simple femur fracture. Things happen.
In 2005 my husband got a concussion on a ski trip to Taos. We were young healthy idiots and didn't use helmets back then. We figured we didn't need them since we didn't do any tree skiing. My husband is a good skier and this happened on a green trail. He was trying to avoid a group of kids and got tangled in the rope at the edge of the trail. To this day he doesn't remember any of it. Anyway, we were fortunate to be in the U.S. because our medical insurance covered most of the expense. Also, we didn't have to change our flight back home as he was able to fly as scheduled. I remember thinking "What if this had happened in another country? We didn't buy travel insurance." Ever since then we have never skied without helmets and we have never gone anywhere without travel insurance.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#22
In 2005 my husband got a concussion on a ski trip to Taos. We were young healthy idiots and didn't use helmets back then. We figured we didn't need them since we didn't do any tree skiing. My husband is a good skier and this happened on a green trail. He was trying to avoid a group of kids and got tangled in the rope at the edge of the trail. To this day he doesn't remember any of it. Anyway, we were fortunate to be in the U.S. because our medical insurance covered most of the expense. Also, we didn't have to change our flight back home as he was able to fly as scheduled. I remember thinking "What if this had happened in another country? We didn't buy travel insurance." Ever since then we have never skied without helmets and we have never gone anywhere without travel insurance.
Not idiots, just not hit in the head by experience yet.
 
Oct 30, 2018
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#24
Mr. Maley - your explanation about the possibility of a trip not getting the number of people on it to make it viable (from a business perspective, of course) that could cause it to be cancelled - I did not think of that possibility but it makes sense. So, I'm taking away several messages here from all the comments made so far to my original plea:

1. Travel insurance - a definite must; read carefully what they cover especially related to if there is a medical incident; a good place to get more information can be found at https://forum.elliott.org/threads/the-right-travel-insurance.1283/ (thank you, Mr. Maley).

2. Check out the website https://www.seatguru.com/ for more choices about flying in various categories that offer refundable versus nonrefundable airline tickets (thank you, Mr. Weihlac). My job would be to explore the options I do learn about and ultimately make a decision about what I could live with, knowing full well that there are no guarantees that everything would/could go as planned but certainly try my best to have an alternate plan in place if modifications in my itinerary must be made and what my risk tolerance is and what I can afford. Wow! Daunting but doable!

3. Have I left anything out?

OK, folks, armed with such good advice, I am going to plunge back in to finalize my plans for this trip, keeping in mind your knowledge and experience that you have shared with me. I am on my way to becoming a better, informed, culturally sensitive, and respectful traveler during my retirement and get the most out of what beauty and wonders our beautiful yet fragile earth has to offer. She humbles me in so many ways!

Jane
 
Oct 30, 2018
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#26
Hello to all who have weighed in with sage advice and wisdom about my question. For the moment, I will not provide an update on my actual flight arrangements (I'll wait until my trip is over.) HOWEVER, I do want you to know the lessons I have learned today as I tried to navigate the treacherous waters (or skies) of making flight reservations. As has been pointed out MANY times by Mr. Elliott, those waters (skies) are indeed difficult to navigate on one's own. I thought I was sort of savvy (or at least, a little "streetwise"). Nope, nope, nope - seems I have lost a little edge on that front.

This is the BIGGEST, HUGEST lesson I have humbly learned today in spite of what everyone (read, Mr. Elliott, and you all, most thoughtful and articulate with your comments) - and that is, from this point on, just pay a travel agent to deal with those kind of details! I mean it!!

Is there a story behind this epiphany? Yes, but right now it's still sort of "percolating" and taking on a life of its own. Please stay posted to this thread for details once my trip is done. And hope there is a happy ending! :eek:

Jane (trying to "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" . . . whistle, whistle) :)
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,198
1,130
113
Maui Hawaii
#27
Hello to all who have weighed in with sage advice and wisdom about my question. For the moment, I will not provide an update on my actual flight arrangements (I'll wait until my trip is over.) HOWEVER, I do want you to know the lessons I have learned today as I tried to navigate the treacherous waters (or skies) of making flight reservations. As has been pointed out MANY times by Mr. Elliott, those waters (skies) are indeed difficult to navigate on one's own. I thought I was sort of savvy (or at least, a little "streetwise"). Nope, nope, nope - seems I have lost a little edge on that front.

This is the BIGGEST, HUGEST lesson I have humbly learned today in spite of what everyone (read, Mr. Elliott, and you all, most thoughtful and articulate with your comments) - and that is, from this point on, just pay a travel agent to deal with those kind of details! I mean it!!

Is there a story behind this epiphany? Yes, but right now it's still sort of "percolating" and taking on a life of its own. Please stay posted to this thread for details once my trip is done. And hope there is a happy ending! :eek:

Jane (trying to "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" . . . whistle, whistle) :)
We truly hope you made your flight arrangments directly with the airline and not with Expedia, Orbitz etc etc. or other online "travel agents".
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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#28
What I would suggest is to call the company and ask them if your tour date is definitely confirmed. If it is, that means they have the minimum number of participants and won’t cancel the tour.

If they tell you it’s not confirmed yet, keep calling every few weeks to see if they have confirmed yet.

You might also want to look into buying Cancel for Any Reason Travel insurance. You won’t be mace 100% whole but it’s better than losing everything you have paid for your air if the company cancels the tour.
 

John Galbraith

Staff Member
Advocate
Director
Jan 22, 2017
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Poole
#29
Y When I was 21 I went to London with a group; one member looked left and stepped into the path of a car coming from the right. He was REALLY REALLY healthy until he wasn't. Luckily for him, England has NHS, otherwise he would have been charged many $$$ which he did not have. As you know from your background, cr*p happens to healthy, careful people.
n.
And it is worth noting that the NHS does charge overseas visitors now. Accident and Emergency initial treatment is still free but other treatment is charged upfront. I have just looked at the charging list - it is remarkably cheap though!
 
Likes: jsn55
Aug 24, 2018
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#30
Hi - sorry I'm coming to the party a bit late. If your trip does get cancelled, I suggest you look at Hurtigruten (UK website is https://www.hurtigruten.co.uk/ ). They are a Norwegian Ferry line, and they run working ships that go up & down the Norwegian coast, and although I haven't used them they have a great reputation. Announcements are made on board if & when the Northern Lights are visible. As they go all the way up the coast to Kirkenes you have a wonderful chance of seeing the Lights, especially in the Winter months. Good luck & I hope you get a great display!
 
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weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,198
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Maui Hawaii
#31
And it is worth noting that the NHS does charge overseas visitors now. Accident and Emergency initial treatment is still free but other treatment is charged upfront. I have just looked at the charging list - it is remarkably cheap though!
Often cheaper to fly to the UK for treatment and pay the fee that may be less than your insurance deductible/co-pay
 
Oct 30, 2018
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#33
Just logged on after being off the internet for several days (am not really committed to staying on the grid at all times). I want to thank everyone who has weighed in on my question. I've learned a lot from all of you and I'm also learning from my mistakes. I hate saying this but "it is what it is" and thank God I'm a quick and attentive learner. Sigh . . . things could have been much worse but I do try to look at the positives more than the negatives. That being said, when I return from Finland on January 20, 2019, I will share with all who have weighed in on this thread my experiences and lessons learned in the hope that people who are just starting out to travel (i.e., due to retirement and the free time it gives you) and are not savvy to the industry (like me) will pay attention to what I have to say. My message does not need to go viral but if there is even one person who can avoid the mistakes I've made, then I will feel like I've accomplished something! You guys are great!!! :)

Jane
 
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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,702
7,517
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San Francisco
#34
Just logged on after being off the internet for several days (am not really committed to staying on the grid at all times). I want to thank everyone who has weighed in on my question. I've learned a lot from all of you and I'm also learning from my mistakes. I hate saying this but "it is what it is" and thank God I'm a quick and attentive learner. Sigh . . . things could have been much worse but I do try to look at the positives more than the negatives. That being said, when I return from Finland on January 20, 2019, I will share with all who have weighed in on this thread my experiences and lessons learned in the hope that people who are just starting out to travel (i.e., due to retirement and the free time it gives you) and are not savvy to the industry (like me) will pay attention to what I have to say. My message does not need to go viral but if there is even one person who can avoid the mistakes I've made, then I will feel like I've accomplished something! You guys are great!!! :)

Jane
Thanks for the kind words. We are all volunteers here, and absolutely buy into the concept that even if only one person benefits from our threads and our advice... it's all good. One of the wonders of the internet is exactly as you state ... the ability to inform others and to learn from others' mis-adventures. We will look forward to an update of your trip.
 
Oct 30, 2018
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#35
Hello, fellow travelers and kind, thoughtful advisors! I'm back from Finland now and am ready to report to all some "take-away" lessons I learned.

First of all, the trip exceeded my expectations! I did see the Northern lights - awesome! The logistics of the trip, handled by Aurora Zone in Great Britain, were seamless with no glitches or delays or surprised. Everything about the trip went perfect!! The accommodations were lovely, the food there was prepared by a French chef (OMG - out of this world delicious!) and most of all, every activity that was planned went perfectly! I have to tell you that of the hosted trips I've taken, this was probably one of the best I've ever gone on, such that I might do it again next year! My travel companions (there was eight of us on the trip) were regular, sane people who had a great sense of humor, were friendly and just fun to be around - boy, did I luck out!! We even "crawled" to the Russian border which had warning signs that, I swear this is the truth, had a hand on it that looked like it was flipping the bird at you to warn you to stay away! God's honest truth!! I even have a picture to prove it!! :)

My experience using WOW airlines was extremely nice - I have no complaints about their service or their staff, even though on Trip Advisor, some folks panned them. I knew exactly what to expect in terms of extra charges so no surprises there. The plane ride itself was very mellow with the interior having soft lighting along the overhead compartment of purple above and fuchsia below - I felt like I was sort of in a spa waiting room - fellow passengers were well-behaved, quiet and very polite (maybe everyone was on Valium perhaps?) Check-in went smoothly, getting seated went smoothly, transferring in Keflavek was seamless, and the return trip was a repeat of the same.

Finally, booking a "sleep pod" at the Yotel at Gatwick after I arrived was an absolute brilliant decision on my part! I arrived a day early, immediately checked in to the Yotel, and with a little help of a nice single malt scotch, slept most of that day and night. The next morning, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the flight on Finnair to Ivalo - NO jet lag at all!! I could not tell that two levels above me was a busy airport with lots of people and planes, etc.

The biggest mistake I made was to book my flight through FlightHub. Unfortunately, I already had bought my ticket before receiving Mr./Ms. Wiehlac's recommendation to deal directly with the airlines on November 4, 2018. (S)he was absolutely "spot on" about that recommendation to not use those sites. I was unable to figure out what the cost of my ticket from Flight Hub actually entailed. Customer service at FlightHub was unable to provide clarification for me so I gave up - lesson learned (fortunately not TOO expensive a lesson) - I should have booked directly with WOW airlines. I decided to go the nonrefundable route since I was fairly certain by that point that the trip was indeed going to take place. I also got trip insurance.

I want to thank all of you for weighing in on my original question. You gave me some excellent advice and recommendations to consider when I arrange my next trip which will probably be this July for a week of scuba diving off Cat Island in the Bahamas!! Can hardly wait for that!

Jane
 
Nov 21, 2014
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#36
What a great report/update, Jane. We too want to see the Northern Lights and we were considering Aurora Zone. So happy your trip was successful! Wish I could hear more...
 
Likes: Tricia K.

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,702
7,517
113
San Francisco
#37
Hello to all who have weighed in with sage advice and wisdom about my question. For the moment, I will not provide an update on my actual flight arrangements (I'll wait until my trip is over.) HOWEVER, I do want you to know the lessons I have learned today as I tried to navigate the treacherous waters (or skies) of making flight reservations. As has been pointed out MANY times by Mr. Elliott, those waters (skies) are indeed difficult to navigate on one's own. I thought I was sort of savvy (or at least, a little "streetwise"). Nope, nope, nope - seems I have lost a little edge on that front.

This is the BIGGEST, HUGEST lesson I have humbly learned today in spite of what everyone (read, Mr. Elliott, and you all, most thoughtful and articulate with your comments) - and that is, from this point on, just pay a travel agent to deal with those kind of details! I mean it!!

Is there a story behind this epiphany? Yes, but right now it's still sort of "percolating" and taking on a life of its own. Please stay posted to this thread for details once my trip is done. And hope there is a happy ending! :eek:

Jane (trying to "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" . . . whistle, whistle) :)
Oh, Jane, how I wish your post could be beamed directly into the minds of everyone who wants to travel. Perfectly normal people just make the most unbelievable decisions, and become irate when they mess it all up. People lose thousands of dollars and hours of time and gallons of tears because they don't know what they're doing. We see it daily and we're always so glad when we can help someone extricate themselves with a modicum of grace. On travel today: you don't know what you don't know, so ASK SOME QUESTIONS.
 
Sep 6, 2015
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#38
Its funny that I tripped over this thread just as I’m putting the finishing touches on what was a surprise (apparently I gave away more clues than I realized) trip to Iceland for my husband’s 60th birthday in March. Like many people, seeing the Northern Lights is a bucket list item for us, so when Icelandair offered direct, round trip flights to Iceland from Minneapolis for $450 each, the wheels started turning (they have an interesting option for first class, allowing you to put a bid in for an upgrade, but you don’t pay unless you are upgraded. As tempting as it was, I decided not to bid on an upgrade for this trip since the origina appeal was the price of the tickets). We are only going to have five nights in Reykjavik, so we have to hope against hope that we will see the Northern Lights while we are there. I have booked individual tours from Reykjavik with two different tour operators (who will take us out another night if we don’t see the lights on the first go round) as well as a few other experiences while we are there. And the most valuable thing I have learned from the forums is to buy travel insurance that includes emergency medical evacuations if necessary. Ever since my father became critically ill just before we left for a long planned 10 day trip to Hawaii, nearly destroying years of saving and planning, I won’t book a trip without it. The peace of mind is well worth a relatively minimal cost for the insurance is well worth it. And fingers crossed we too will see the lights in March.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,198
14,780
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#39
Its funny that I tripped over this thread just as I’m putting the finishing touches on what was a surprise (apparently I gave away more clues than I realized) trip to Iceland for my husband’s 60th birthday in March. Like many people, seeing the Northern Lights is a bucket list item for us, so when Icelandair offered direct, round trip flights to Iceland from Minneapolis for $450 each, the wheels started turning (they have an interesting option for first class, allowing you to put a bid in for an upgrade, but you don’t pay unless you are upgraded. As tempting as it was, I decided not to bid on an upgrade for this trip since the origina appeal was the price of the tickets). We are only going to have five nights in Reykjavik, so we have to hope against hope that we will see the Northern Lights while we are there. I have booked individual tours from Reykjavik with two different tour operators (who will take us out another night if we don’t see the lights on the first go round) as well as a few other experiences while we are there. And the most valuable thing I have learned from the forums is to buy travel insurance that includes emergency medical evacuations if necessary. Ever since my father became critically ill just before we left for a long planned 10 day trip to Hawaii, nearly destroying years of saving and planning, I won’t book a trip without it. The peace of mind is well worth a relatively minimal cost for the insurance is well worth it. And fingers crossed we too will see the lights in March.
We saw the lights when we were in Iceland in September believe it or not. You’ll need to get away from the hotel areas to where it is darker and you won’t get the spectacular colors that you see in pictures but most of the hotels will call you in your room and wake you if the lights become visible.

Enjoy your trip.