United and other airlines’ policies have evolved, and will continue to do so, with the pandemic. With 2021 well underway, Consumer Reports and U.S. PIRG, a public-interest advocacy nonprofit, called on 10 domestic airlines last week to ensure their vouchers can be used into 2022.
In addition to the official rules, Mr. Keyes said, “Most airlines have had informal policies to grant extensions to customers who called in and proactively asked for one. Though you shouldn’t be a jerk about it — honey attracts more flies than vinegar — you should be proactive, explain why you’re not comfortable traveling under the current circumstances and ask.”
When the pandemic hit, most air travelers fell into two camps: Those whose flights had been canceled by the airline, and those who voluntarily canceled their tickets. Cruisers were given no such choice: The industry came to an all-out halt last March, after several coronavirus outbreaks were linked to cruises. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order, and most ships have been bobbing emptily ever since. Cruisers, in turn, got either cash refunds or future cruise credits, the industry’s version of vouchers or merchandise credits.
Although the C.D.C. order was lifted in October, cruising still remains largely on pause, and most major cruise companies have preemptively canceled their sailings well into this year while they get their health-and-safety protocols up to snuff. In the meantime, policies about future cruise credits remain flexible.
“We’ve seen the concept evolve since the start of the pandemic, and cruise lines are giving people a fairly long lead in terms of expiration dates,” said Colleen McDaniel, the editor in chief of Cruise Critic, a leading cruise news and planning website. “They’re leaving room for people to sail when they’re comfortable. It also helps navigate the continued pause in the industry — with no definitive end date and cruises continuing to be canceled, it leaves some leeway.”
On Carnival Cruise Line, an industry powerhouse with a fleet of 24 ships, travelers who opted to receive a credit, rather than a cash refund, have through April 2023 to sail.