SWFL families fight for refunds after canceling trips

With schools on spring break or about to be on break, many people have trips booked. But, as everything shuts down, people who don’t want to travel right now are having a hard time getting their money back or making changes. All this despite travel companies promising they’re there to help.

By midnight Friday, the ban on travel from much of Europe will be in full swing.

Two planes were the very last to make it through Southwest Florida International Airport Thursday night. Both from into and out of Germany.

But it’s not just flights. People told us they’re losing money, canceling cruises and re-booking hotel rooms.

“It was a nightmare, very stressful,” said Lori Novello from North Fort Myers.

Novello’s husband, Larry, told us there seemed to be no recourse for them.

“She’s been on hold back-and-forth with these companies all day long,” Larry said.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is throwing chaos into plans.

Lori and Larry are trying to get over $1,000 back from the hotel they booked. The Novellos canceled their trip for concerns due to Lori’s underlying medical conditions.

“I have crohn’s and kidney disease,” Lori said. “And, with all the stuff going on with the coronavirus, we got concerned because I’m much higher risk.”

And canceling their anniversary cruise was nothing short of time consuming.

“If we had to eat it, we’re gonna end up eating it,” Larry Novello said. “We weren’t gonna go because, if we’re going to the hospital or anything like that and being there for months or even worse, we weren’t gonna do it.”

A Bonita Springs family we spoke to was forced to cancel flights and a cruise they planned two years ago.

“My daughter has an auto immune disease called POTS,” Nikki Valore said. “So she has to be pretty much, like she can’t be around anybody. It’s been out of the country or anything like that because she’s very susceptible to getting sick.”

And, like so many families, they are planning to take a big financial loss. But their health is worth it.

“We’re constantly calling. They want to give us a flight credit, which is almost $6,000,” Valore said. “And it has to be used by the end of this year … We were really excited to do this.”

The Valore family got lucky on their cruise by receiving some cash back and credit. The Novellos continue to get silence. Ultimately, each company has its own policy right now.

Reporter:Anika Henanger
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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