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Texans losing jobs, money as hotels and travel destinations suffer in pandemic

Because of unprecedented travel disruptions, many providers have been slow or unwilling to process refunds.

Labor Day is usually the end of the busy summer travel season. But many of us had to cancel our plans this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic; or maybe your travel provider canceled or altered your plans. Unfortunately, even then, you may not have been issued a refund right away. 

Some companies have been difficult at best to pin down for refunds. Some travel providers have been offering travel vouchers instead of cash refunds. Even cooperative companies have been swamped with refund requests and have asked consumers to wait weeks, and even months before they are made whole.  

Getting a travel refund is not easy

The Wall Street Journal last month detailed the difficult time several passengers were having as they struggled to get their money back from different airlines. In some cases, the consumers couldn’t get relief when they contacted the issuer of the credit card they used to book the travel. 

My personal experience trying to get my money back

Even though the airline I was planning to use for an international trip had suspended all flights from North Texas, if I canceled the trip, I would have had to settle for a travel voucher, which would have to be used on their airline in a relatively short time frame. So, I had to wait until right before the trip for the airline to officially cancel the flight. 

They told me the refund could take up to 12 weeks. I waited. 

When the money wasn’t fully refunded, I contacted the issuer of the credit card I used to book the travel and asked them to remove the charge. They did it within three days. 

Creditcards.com has written about others who have taken this route to a refund.

What to do if you're having trouble getting a refund?

Earlier this year, Forbes offered some tips on how to pursue travel refunds in the pandemic. The US Department of Transportation has information on traveler refunds, and a site where air travelers can file a formal complaint.

Hotels suffering in pandemic, costing many Texans their jobs

The American Hotel and Lodging Association reports that Labor Day weekend hotel bookings are down 66% compared to last year. And that 65% of hotels operating below break-even point. 

Here in Texas they estimate a loss of 64,072 direct hotel-related jobs and 268,797 total jobs supporting that industry.

That is a potent reminder: on Labor Day we appreciate the achievements of American workers. This year in particular-- it is a day to be especially thankful if you still have a job. 

In recent days, the Texas Workforce Commission has paid unemployment benefits to 1,933,035 Texans.