The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent shutdown of non-essential travel left hotels, airlines, and business travelers sorting through an avalanche of cancellation and refund negotiations. When lockdowns began and flights were cancelled en masse, conflicting airline policies and refund refusals caused confusion. Airlines are currently dealing with an estimated global refund liability of $35 billion, according to Business Travel News.
World Travel, Inc. is committed to processing our clients' unused tickets promptly to ensure that applicable waivers and valid tickets are used before expiry. But as a result of these cancellations and changes, corporate travel managers may find themselves overwhelmed by a swell in unused tickets and contradictory waiver policies. Here are a few steps we've taken to help our clients organize their unused tickets and refunds issued due to the pandemic.
Internal Policy Review
Travel managers may begin by taking stock of their company's relevant guidelines and data. Cirium recommends taking a moment to review travel program policy and incorporate any new updates that may effect travel permission or ticket transitions.
It may also be helpful to review HR data and scan lists of company travelers for potential ticket name changes, making sure that personal information is confirmed.
Our unused tickets reporting systems have been updated to reflect increased volume and feature additional metrics. We moved quickly to develop technology enhancements that provide accessible unused ticket information to travel managers and consultant teams. Added metrics include:
- Updated validity dates based on extensions provided by applicable waivers
- Identifier for when COVID-19 airline waivers can be applied per ticket
- Waived change fees that are the result of COVID-19 airline waivers per ticket
- If a name change can be performed on a particular ticket due to a COVID-19 airline waiver
- If a name change can be performed on a particular ticket due to client carrier contracts
Unused tickets reports have also been changed to provide additional insight into COVID-19 airline waivers. Our database is updated 4 times per day to reflect any changes in ticket status.
Account Manager Coordination
As always, our account managers have visibility into applicable waivers and unused tickets during the booking process. Although additional details will be available on unused ticket reports, we encourage travel managers to work with their account managers to ensure that all unused tickets and waivers are used when possible.
Our account management team also formed a task force to create best practices for managing unused tickets. This team is currently working hard to compile the best methods available, and its findings will be distributed to our clients as soon as possible.
The swell of unused tickets caused by the pandemic is unprecedented and overwhelming. But with preparation and coordination, we're helping our clients generate savings and revamp their travel programs.