A necessary evil

You don’t need cancellation insurance you say. You’re travelling no matter what.

Funny how something as simple as a child’s ear infection can derail the best-laid plans.

It’s no time to cry over split milk. It’s time to start “negotiating” with the supplier who’s implementing the penalty.

What does “non-refundable” really mean to you?

Airlines generally process cancelled airline tickets into future air credits, which retain validity for a one-year period. 

When you go to redeem their value, you are charged with the applicable change fee. Some airlines, such as WestJet, allow for a transfer to other parties, but generally, future credits are not transferrable. 

This future credit policy does not apply to charter airlines such as Transat and Sunwing.

Package tour suppliers that combine both an air and hotel component are definitely more rigid in their policies, but they can, at times, allow you to re-book an alternate destination and/or departure date for a standard change fee. 

It is important to cancel your prepaid arrangements as soon as it becomes necessary. A delay of a day or two can make the difference between a 50 per cent or 100 per cent penalty. 

A number of tour suppliers have started offering inexpensive “cancel for any reason” insurance waivers that guarantee the traveller receives a Future Travel Voucher redeemable toward any purchase within their product line.

One product with which I’ve had the least success in negotiations is the prepaid, non-refundable hotel stays, which you can purchase on popular sites such as Expedia or Booking.com. 

These prepaid rates are very desirable and offer incredible savings, however, they truly mean non-refundable.

There is no leeway toward refunds or changes for any reason. Yes, I mean even death of a family member.

Cruise lines, for the most part, are the most lenient in assessing cancellation penalties. 

Deposits are usually refundable up until time of final payment and 100 per cent penalties only apply within the last three weeks prior to departure. 

Should you find yourself within that three-week period, check to see if the sailing is sold out. 

The cruise line may have people on a waitlist just waiting for an opening and they can re-sell your cabin in an effort to alleviate your cancellation penalties.  

If you book your travel arrangements with a professional, experienced travel consultant, you have a seasoned advocate in your corner to help assist with negotiating a result that is beneficial to both parties.

The information I’ve provided is meant to be in general terms. 

Every cruise line, hotel chain and tour supplier has its unique policy. You should always be aware of what the applicable cancellation policies are and how they apply to you. 

Being warned allows you to be prepared for the worst.

Cancellation insurance is a necessary evil. No one has ever regretted its purchase if they’ve had to make a subsequent claim.

Travellers really should build it into their travel budget.


Comments are pre-moderated to ensure they meet our guidelines. Approval times will vary. Keep it civil, and stay on topic. If you see an inappropriate comment, please use the ‘flag’ feature. Comments are the opinions of the comment writer, not of Castanet. Comments remain open for one day after a story is published and are closed on weekends. Visit Castanet’s Forums to start or join a discussion about this story.

More The Joy of Travel articles

About the Author

Joy has long been a believer in the art of travel: the belief that a vacation is something to be anticipated savored and then long remembered as one of life’s great adventures. 
Website: thejoyoftravel.ca

You can contact Joy at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories