Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Cost of Cancelling Africa

Okay, let's be clear, our Africa trip is not cancelled, just postponed. But to when we are not sure. If we knew when, then we could reschedule dates, and this process would be different. But we have no new date, and are running up against deadlines for cancellations. And so we cancel.

1) The Safari

Booked through OverlandAfrica, our tour with is with Nomad Adventures. Nicki at Overland has cancelled our seats, and is searching for alternative dates. There will be a fee of about $350 to move to the new dates when we find them. That's about 5% of the tour cost

2) Flights there and back

As luck would have it, our flight from Calgary to Cape Town, and our flight from Johannesburg to Calgary, were booked on Aeroplan points as separate one-way tickets. This is actually good.

Because we are more than 22 days from flying home, the flight home was just cancelled, the Aeroplan fee, all $594 in taxes and fees, and the 150,000 points were all credited back.

The flight there is different. Within 22 days of departure, all the above happens, except... the refund comes in as a credit that must be used against another Aeroplan reservation that must be booked and ticketed prior to January 2, 2015. This includes a pre-payment of $415 in taxes and fees. It will cost $180 to apply this credit at the time of booking. 

Okay, so this probably isn't a bad deal. We'll either use the credit against the revised Africa flight, or if that can't be booked prior to January 2 2015, we'll use it to get to Maui.

Had it been booked as one round trip, everything would have come back as an Aeroplan credit, and there would have been a $360 charge to re-book.

3) Flights in country: Victoria Falls to Port Elizabeth

We booked flights from Victoria Falls (Livingstone, actually) to Port Elizabeth at the end of our safari with South African Airways though their website. Of the $673 US fare, the cancellation charge is 1,850 Rand, or about $191 CDN (25% of the original fare)

4) Flights in country: George to Johannesburg

We booked this flight through Kululu, a low cost carrier that's a division of British Airways, on the website. This $195 airfare is non-refundable, period. It can't be cancelled. It allegedly can be changed, for $62, right up until 2 hrs before we were to depart (June 2). However, I can't figure out how to change it on the website.

5) Hotels Part 1

Normally, I like to book as directly with a hotel as I can. In this case, we broke that rule, and booked Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Wilderness through Bad choice, based on the cancellation policies.

Cape Town: Hotel was to cost $259. Cancellation charge $51 (20%)
Port Elizabeth: Hotel was to cost $145. Cancellation charge $0
Wilderness: Hotel was to cost $124. Cancellation charge $62 (50%, cancelled 24 days after the booking, and 40 days before arrival). That seems excessive.

6) Hotels Part 2

We booked our hotel in Knysna directly. Hotel was to cost $95. No charge to cancel since we did so more than 48 hrs in advance.

So the total cost to cancel/move this trip has been:

$350 + $180 + $191 + $195 + $51 + $62 = $1,029

I had thought my Amex Card covered me for some of this. Answer: no. They took trip cancellation insurance off my Gold card 3 years ago, and it's now only included in the Platinum card. The Gold Card has Trip Interruption insurance. So had I broken my leg in the middle of the trip, cancelling from that part forward would have been covered. But because I broke it before I left, no coverage.

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