Travel Protections

Background

For many older adults, travel is important as a way to encounter new experiences, visit with friends and family, and obtain necessary medical care. Travel also plays an important role in maintaining social and community connections. Neverthless, travel provider practices may make traveling challenging, stressful, or even impossible if they do not take the needs of older adults into account. Travelers may especially encounter particular costs and hurdles when they need to adjust or cancel their plans or when providers change their operations on short notice. The COVID-19 pandemic has especially demonstrated concerns about travel providers’ practices with regard to customer safety and refund policies.

TRAVEL PROTECTIONS: Policy

TRAVEL PROTECTIONS: Policy

Access

Policymakers and the private sector should support the ability of people of all ages, ability levels, and backgrounds to travel. This includes travel by air, rail, bus, ship, and other conveyances. Travel should be accessible to people of varying mobility and ability levels. This includes access to restrooms on all modes of transportation and in travel facilities.

Safety

Travel should be safe, including during declared public health crises. During such times, travel providers should be required to put in place and publicize safety protocols.

Consumer protections

Travel should include consumer protections, including transparent pricing and access to redress. Add-on fees should be reasonable, proportional to the cost incurred by the travel provider, and disclosed prior to sale. This includes fees for luggage, seat assignments, and flight cancellations. Consumers should also be able to contact travel providers by phone without excessive wait times.

Travel providers should be required to seat families, as well as travelers and their caregivers, together without charging added fees.

Travel providers should offer full refunds for canceled travel during declared emergencies. If they instead provide future travel credits, they should be for long enough that consumers have a reasonable opportunity to use or extend them after the major emergency or crisis has ended.