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FOX43 Finds Out: how to get a refund if your travel plans are canceled because of COVID-19

From getting a refund to getting the best deal, FOX43 Finds Out how the travel industry has been impacted by COVID-19 and what that means for you.

COVID-19 is impacting all aspects of the travel industry.

from airlines to hotels to restaurants, businesses are losing money.

People who book trips are scared of losing money too.

People who booked and paid for trips in March and April are still fighting to get their money back.

At the same time, people who plan travel from May all the way into next year are unsure what protections they have if they cancel a trip.

FOX43 Finds Out

Planning a trip, at least in your mind, maybe an escape from everything else going on in the world right now.

"Our current plan is to do a family trip, but were going to have to see what the world looks like," said Sarah Gavin. She's the Expedia Group’s Vice President of Global Communications.

Even she is debating when her family can take their next trip because of the COVID-19 pandemic impacting travel plans.

People also want to know if they can get their money back if they cancel a trip right now.

Travel refunds in the time of COVID-19

The website AirfareWatchdog asked its twitter followers to share their experiences when it comes to getting a refund during this pandemic and a lot of the responses were people saying they were having no luck.

So here's how it should work when it comes to airlines, at least according to the US Department of Transportation: "A passenger is entitled to a refund if the airline cancelled a flight, regardless of the reason, and the passenger chooses not to travel."

A lot of airlines are canceling flights right now.

The DOT also put out guidance specifically regarding COVID-19 and refunds: "The obligation of airlines to provide refunds, including the ticket price and any optional fee charged for services a passenger is unable to use, does not cease when the flight disruptions are outside of the carrier’s control (e.g., a result of government restrictions)."

So yes, you should be getting a refund.

However, this only is true right now after a flight is canceled by the airline.

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If you want to postpone

This is not the case if you want to cancel or postpone upcoming travel that is still set to take off.

"When you think about how different the world looked a month ago, imagine how different it could look by even Memorial Day," said Gavin.

It’s hard to tell what your travel plans over the summer may look like.

Some airlines are offering flexibility on this.

While most aren't offering cash refunds for future flights, some are offering credits.

Companies like Delta, Jetblue and Southwest are offering waivers for people to change their flights within a certain time period at no extra cost.

Here's the deal though, if you want to get in touch with a carrier, hotel chain or 3rd party company like Expedia or Travelocity, expect long wait times over the phone.

"If you can wait, wait. Especially if you're not traveling for a little bit," said Gavin.

Getting the best deals

If you find yourself longing for a vacation, chances are you'll find some pretty good deals right now.

Gavin has some advice.

If you feel comfortable traveling over the next few months, buy the deal, just upgrade yourself and get a refundable ticket.

"Normally we all get non-refundable because it's so much less expensive, but we may find that it's actually more affordable in the few months after we open up."

If you think a company is not offering you a refund when it should, here's how you can file a complaint. 

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If you have a story you want Jackie to look into, FOX43 wants to find out.

Send her a message on Facebook or send an email to FOX43FindsOut@FOX43.com.