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CNN.com – Help! My Honeymoon Went South

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Travel insurance can protect many types of travel, and certainly a honeymoon is the type of vacation worth insuring.  A recent article on CNN.com answers a traveler’s question about how they could have avoided unpleasantness when their honeymoon plans were altered.  The following is the question and answer, written by Christopher Elliott.

Q: My wife and I recently booked a honeymoon in Costa Rica through Apple Vacations. On the morning we were supposed to leave, our flights on Delta Air Lines were canceled, and they didn’t have any other flights until two days later.

I called Apple and they simply told me to call the airline. They refused to help. Delta’s customer service was only a little more helpful. They ended up getting us to Costa Rica a day later on a different airline.

Because of this we missed one day at an all-inclusive resort and decided to stay an extra day. I again called Apple and asked them to refund our missed day and wanted to book an extra day on the end of our honeymoon. They would not refund any money for the missed day and charged us for the extra day.

I sent a letter to Apple’s customer service like they suggested I do. I have not gotten any response from them after two letters. Any advice on this issue?

— Loyd Jobe, Evansville, Indiana

A: It sounds as if Apple could have done more to save your honeymoon. But let’s take a closer look at the facts.

Delta canceled your flight, not Apple. So in a sense, Apple was right: You would have to talk with the airline about rescheduling your flight. At the same time, Apple advertises a “beginning-to-end” vacation experience, which includes employees greeting you at your departure airport and meeting you when you arrive.

Perhaps Apple raised the bar a little high when it promised “the ultimate in a quality vacation experience.”

I contacted Apple, and a few other details emerged. First, the company says you were offered travel insurance, which would have protected your vacation investment. You declined, according to Apple.

So technically, the delay wasn’t Apple’s fault and you didn’t buy its insurance. It owed you nothing, in a contractual sense.

But who cares about contracts? This is your honeymoon, and you booked a vacation with a company that you believed would take care of you rather than do just what’s legally required of it.

I always recommend that for once-in-a-lifetime vacations like yours, travelers consider the services of a travel agent who specializes in honeymoons. I think an agent would be able to offer this kind of personalized attention you require for your Costa Rica getaway.

It turns out Apple asked your resort for a date swap, which would have allowed you to stay an extra day at your hotel, but it turned them down. I think you might have started a dialogue with your hotel, letting them know that this was your honeymoon and that you didn’t really want to lose the last day of a special vacation.

Next time — and I really hope there isn’t a next time — you might want to either send an e-mail to Apple Vacations or ask for a return receipt from the post office. The company had no record of either of your letters.

Apple contacted your resort again on your behalf and secured a $184 refund for the last night of your vacation. It also sent you two $100 travel certificates.

(Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.org or e-mail him at celliott@ngs.org).

Many travel booking sites, travel agents and other travel planning companies offer travel insurance when a vacation is booked.  While, travelers are not required to purchase a policy from the travel provider, it is a good idea to shop around and compare travel insurance plans to find the best cover and the best value.  When unexpected situations happen, like a missed day of the honeymoon, travel providers are not obligated to accommodate or provide restitution, particularly if the traveler was offered and declined insurance.

In this honeymoon scenario, if the flight was delayed due to inclement weather, mechanical breakdown or a labor strike, trip interruption coverage could reimburse the unused time at the resort.  If the delay meant overnight accommodations, meals and local transportation costs were incurred, travel delay would cover those costs.  Having peace of mind that a travel insurance claim will make the traveler financially whole again means there is no need to pursue the travel company, airline or resort for reimbursement.  Always refer to the certificate of insurance for details.

Source: CNN