Swine Flu Outbreak Has Travelers Scrambling to Cancel Trips to Mexico

What to Do If Your Vacation Gets Hit By The Swine Flu

Christopher Elliott, a travel expert and National Geographic Traveler magazine's reader advocate, said that there are several things consumers can do to exit their Mexican vacations.

Elliott suggests calling your travel agent as the first line of defense. These are the people he says can most effectively advocate on your behalf to change or cancel flights without enormous fees.

"People don't realize that an online agency like Expedia or Orbitz are actual travel agencies and if you look at the fine print they have things like satisfaction guarantees, warrantees or promises," said Elliott.

"Call them and say that you promised everything would be fine with your vacation and it's not now thanks to the swine flu," said Elliott.

Next Elliott suggests e-mailing a representative from the airline you're booked with to get a faster response as well as to create a paper trail of your requests.

"Call center representatives are trained not to put your through to a supervisor," said Elliott of some people's plan to ask for a manager in hopes of getting an issue resolved faster.

"Avoid contacting them via telephone unless the trip is really imminent," he said. "Write them an e-mail because those are read faster and processed faster."

Elliott also advises travelers who are not booked to travel to Mexico for another couple of weeks to wait it out, as anxiety-provoking as that may be.

"Basically the airlines have been changing their rules minute by minute so if you don't like the rule now you can always look tomorrow and maybe it will have changed in your favor," said Elliott.

And the airlines are in fact facing real pressure to make changes. On Thursday, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., sent a letter to airline executives asking them to extend their offer to waive change penalties for passengers traveling to Mexico until June 1.

For those who are truly too panicked to wait and see what comes of the swine flu, Elliott suggests eating some of the cost of cancelling a flight and getting a credit toward a future flight.

"Even if you do decide you're never going to want to go to Mexico you can call your airline and get a credit that can be used from up to a year from when you book and pay a change fee and whatever the fair difference is," said Elliott. "Pay a little and get a credit."

"You're vacation is still not completely lost if you're feeling really panicky."

Find Out What Your Carriers' Policy Is

American Airlines: Will rebook trips booked prior to April 25 for travel through May 16 without a fee. For those who want to change their destination they must request to do so prior to May 16 and will be responsible for any difference in fare prices.

AirTran: Will waive change fees for passengers who wish to alter their travel scheduled to or from Cancun through May 15.

Continental Airlines: Will waive change fees and/or additional fare collection for flights originally scheduled between April 24 and May 15 to be rebooked. If the re-scheduled travel goes to a different destination, only the change fee will be waived.

Delta/Northwest: Will waive change and fare difference fees for flights scheduled between April 26 and May 16. For travelers wishing to change their destination only the change fee will be waived.

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