UPDATE: The Department of Transportation (DOT) issued an order to airlines to provide refunds to consumers for flights they have canceled. United Airlines, KLM, and Air France are some of the airlines that are now allowing refunds. A few weeks ago when we first published this article, airlines were in the process of getting government bailouts in order to shore up their finances and have cash flow. Some airlines have come through with tools to refund reservations and others we are still waiting for, but be patient! Also, be sure to note that the DOT states that it will refrain from pursuing action against a carrier that provided travel vouchers for future travel in lieu of refunds for canceled or significantly delayed flights. So credits may still be in your future at least for the next couple of months.
E-credits. There has been a lot of talk and speculation about what the airlines are going to do during the COVID-19 crisis to stay in business, their current solution: e-credits. This solution will protect your commissions, save you a lot of time, and guarantee future travel to keep YOU in business.
We at Centrav are your advocates to the airlines and want to help you navigate this new change as smoothly as possible. There are many great things that are coming from these changes, but there are also a few pitfalls too. We’ll walk you through what this means for you and your clients.
DISCLAIMER: The below applies to some of the airlines, but not all. These new rules generally apply to travel dates before May 31, 2020. Please check with your airline specifically before rebooking.
1. You can protect your commission
You may be worried that you are going to lose your commission because of all these refunds. We have good news for you…it is safe! Since the airlines are only offering e-credits, this protects your commission so your clients will have to exchange their travel dates instead of completely canceling. This ensures that your commission is retained.
2. You save time
If you have purchased a domestic ticket with Centrav, you can use the self-service tools available only on the airline’s website.
If you want to cancel your ticket, you have the option to auto-cancel on Centrav.com. Learn how to request a change or cancel your ticketed booking.
3. E-credits keep us all in business
Although you and/or your clients may be disappointed that the airlines are only offering e-credits… don’t be! By offering e-credits instead of refunds, it helps keep the airlines and YOU in business. Our industry depends on people traveling. During the COVID-19 scare, people have stopped traveling. But for travel agencies to thrive, we need them to eventually start again. With the airlines only offering e-credits, it will encourage your customers to rebook a travel package and resume traveling at a later date.
4. Nonrefundable tickets converting to e-credits
You always take a gamble by buying a nonrefundable ticket, but this time the gamble was in your favor. Airlines don’t normally offer refunds on nonrefundable tickets, but this time–they do! You now get an e-credit with the airline to use at a later date.
1. Credits, not refunds
The unfortunate thing is that this is a credit, not a refund. So your customer will not have the option to cash out and do nothing. They must use the e-credit option toward a future trip or lose it. Although this seems like a bad thing, choose to see the good in this for your travel agency–this ensures that your customer will have to travel again in the future. Many airlines are now starting to comply with the DOT, but remember that offering credits is not something the DOT says they will pursue action against yet.
2. Every airline is different.
Not all airlines are created equally. In the same way that you would have to pay for a carry-on with one airline and not another, don’t assume that every airline is offering the same e-credit policies. Check with your airline on their website to find out their policy.
Don’t do Chargebacks
If you or your client decides to do a chargeback, YOU lose out on your commission and it will create even more wasted time for you and your customer. Credit card companies are going to back the airline in this case. Save yourself and your client time by exchanging instead.
How to Communicate with your Clients
We get it. Some of your customers have not been the easiest to work with during COVID-19. Some of them may not even like the new airline policies, we’re here to help you navigate those conversations.
By the airlines offering e-credits and not full refunds, this encourages your customers to travel again in the near future. If the airlines were offering full refunds, there is a chance that the airline would go out of business and your client wouldn’t get their money back at all.
Nonrefundable tickets–before purchasing a nonrefundable ticket on behalf of your client, you have communicated with your clients the caveats involved in buying a discounted ticket. If your client purchased a nonrefundable ticket, you can communicate with them that you have great news! Instead of a throw-away ticket they can now get an e-credit!
Your clients still get to go on their trip, just at a later date. Currently, the prices are much cheaper than they were before when you originally booked their trip. By rebooking for a future date, there is a good chance they will get even more bang for their buck this time!
We are here to help navigate the ever-changing travel industry with you! We’re all in this together!
If your client is wondering why everything is taking so long, share this resource with them.