At the end of last year, Zola started testing a honeymoon planning service that pairs couples with their own personal travel planners—industry experts who specialize in booking this dream trip. The full rollout is planned for fall this year and we can’t wait to share it with you.
For now, though, we’re very much grounded in the reality of the COVID-19 crisis and how to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and the Zola community. We’re following the daily updates from the CDC and WHO, as well as responses from each sector of the travel industry. We’ve hit pause on honeymoon planning for some of our couples, while others are welcoming the escapism of crafting a big trip.
Once it’s safe to do so, we will be back on the road, scouting the hotels, resorts, and destinations we know Zola honeymooners will love. Until then, we’re sharing everything we’re learning about how the travel industry is responding to the unfolding situation. If your honeymoon has been disrupted, or you just want some travel inspiration right now, please get in touch—we’re here to help as much as we can.
Do I need to change/cancel/rebook my flights?
With all non-essential travel to and from the U.S. now halted, airlines have grounded their fleets and, in some cases, have canceled low-performing routes completely. For travelers with flights booked in March and April, the advice is to contact your airline directly, or look into their updated cancellation and change policies to see if you qualify for a refund or credit.
Airfarewatchdog and The Points Guy also have useful round-ups of the fee-waiver policies by airline. In most cases, lost flights can be turned into points or credit, but the qualifying period (when you booked the ticket and when you planned to travel) varies by airline.
American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and JetBlue have improved on their initial fee waiver terms, while Southwest Airlines is sticking to its existing no-change-fee policy and offering credit if the new fare is lower than the original.
If you were planning to book flights for later in the year, airlines are offering free changes and cancellations if you reserve your seat before April 30, 2020 (in most cases) and travel before December 31, 2020. We’ve heard from couples who want to stay in honeymoon planning mode and book now, knowing they can cancel for any reason down the road.
Can I cancel or change my hotel reservation (even with a nonrefundable rate)?
In our launch destinations of Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean, most resorts take a 50% deposit on booking and then take the second payment around 30- to 60-days before arrival. At this point, the stay is usually non-refundable. If you’ve booked a nonrefundable rate, you would’ve paid for the full stay upfront knowing the rate and dates cannot be amended.
Now, however, many of the big hotel chains are allowing cancellations for trips that had check-in dates before April 30. For rescheduling, they’re also guaranteeing free cancellation on any trip booked before May (in most cases) and taken before the end of the year. Read more about each policy by hotel group
In all cases, contact your property directly to discuss your options. The message we’re hearing from our hotel partners, big and small, is to rebook for later in the year—they need all our support and want to be the bright spot on your horizon.
What do I need to know about travel insurance?
Our travel planners recommend trip insurance whenever and wherever you go, but now’s the time to read the fine print. COVID-19 became a “known event” for most insurance companies between January 21 and January 27, so cancellations due to the virus won’t be covered under most plans bought after this date. There are lots of exceptions, including Cancel For Any Reason policies, and many insurance providers will let you reuse your existing policy for a future trip. The experts at Squaremouth have a helpful FAQ section here.
The advice, as always, is to get in touch with your insurance provider directly to figure out your options.
What are you doing to help Zola couples?
With most honeymoons planned 6-9 months in advance, just a handful of our couples have had to cancel or change their plans so far. Across the wider Zola community, we’re hearing a lot of stories about postponed honeymoons, and are reaching out to help as much as possible.
The most common question we’re getting is, “when is it safe to book again?” The honest answer: We wish we knew. The free cancellation and change policies offered by most airlines and resort groups give us the confidence to book trips for later in 2020—not to mention the joy of talking about travel!
It’s essential that we live small right now, but we know we’ll be back on the road again, and we have big plans for our travel planning service in the future. Stay home, but stay tuned!