INDIANAPOLIS – Local travel agents claim they’re seeing more and more people wanting to book trips.
“People have pent up desires to travel,” Victoria Fricke, from Vic’s Vacations, told CBS4. “Everyone wants to travel.”
But many have said they aren’t sure it’s safe to book a trip yet. Others question whether it’s financially responsible, not knowing what’s ahead in the pandemic.
What to consider before you book a flight
Hire a travel agent!
“A travel agent is going to make sure you don’t have the pit falls of unfortunately showing up to the ticket counter at the Indy airport and not having the right documentation or right test, et cetera,” Fricke said.
Fricke said often, agents have relationships with each of the resorts they work with. They know, in detail, what their travel requirements and restrictions are.
“Every resort has a different policy, so you need to understand the policy,” Fricke explained. “Some are offering your quarantine; it’s covered free you don’t have to pay for it. Others, you have to pay for it. You need to know what you’re getting into as far as what the resorts offer should something go south.”
Some cities and resorts require their visitors to be vaccinated. Others request tourists show proof of a negative COVID test prior to their stay.
What happens if I test positive or have to quarantine last minute prior to or during my trip?
If you were to test positive or have to quarantine prior to your flight, an adviser could rearrange your flights for you.
“We just put it off,” Alex Kutin with Travel Leaders Indy, said. “We help with the changing of the flights and notify the resort that the client is going to be a couple days late.”
Kutin said often, travelers do not face financial penalties as a result.
Some airlines offer more flexibility than others. Delta, for example, requires you to pay extra for a refundable ticket. Southwest boasts “no cancel fees, no change fees” as long as its more than 10 minutes prior to a flight. United offers a 24-hour “flexible booking policy,” which allows customers to change their reservation or cancel it and still, in most cases, get their money back.
“I would suggest testing prior even if you don’t have to just to make sure were not bringing a little friend on this flight with us,” Fricke said.
What if I test positive while on vacation?
If abroad, tourists will have to take a COVID test prior to returning to the United States. If a person tests positive while on their vacation, agents have seen it go a couple of ways. Fricke, for example, said the individual would retest 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 help with extending the airfare,” he explained. “They test the clients each and every day until they test negative so they can come on back.”
In some cases, but not all, tourists may have to pay about $100 extra per person and per night to stay longer and quarantine. That includes the room and board and room service.
“But it’s not laying on the beach, either. You’re confined to your room,” Kutin said.
Fricke has had two such instances. She said she and her clients were able to figure things out quickly. Her advice? Take any necessary medications, just in case, and take your computer and charger so you can work remotely.
Should I purchase travel insurance?
Every agent we spoke with answered with a resounding, “yes.”
“If someone is going to a destination and misses a flight and they have to go to a hotel, who is going to pay for that? If you have travel insurance, travel insurance pays for that,” Kutin said. “Lost luggage or if you’re in destination somewhere and you get hurt, injured or ill, travel insurance covers that too.”
“Travel insurance is always worth it,” Fricke agreed. “It’s always going to cost so much less.”
According to the Department of Financial Services, whether a travel insurance plan covers the cost of COVID related issues depends on the policy. Now that we’re two years into the pandemic, many companies have started offering such coverage. Often, travelers will need a doctor’s note confirming an illness in order to make a claim.
Regardless of what kind 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 you look out for policies that specifically exclude pandemics, COVID and any related variants.
Data shows insurance plans can cost up to 10 percent of the person’s pre-paid, nonrefundable trip cost. 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 typically weigh the age of those traveling, the number of people going on the trip and the length of travel before providing a quote.
Travel agents confirm they are getting busy. Since so many places are operating at a restricted capacity, a lot of cruises, hotels and resorts are filling up quicker than usual. They suggest people book vacations at least ten months in advance.
“We’re seeing things book out because if I cancelled my spring break when the world shut down, I have pushed it to next spring break and now maybe next spring break,” Fricke pointed out. “The supply and demand is only going to hurt consumer pricing, so you want to get in before it’s too high.”