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Category: Air

Book Flights Using Miles To Protect Refunds Against Airline Cancellation Policies

air force one replica

Flight cancellations have become a common occurrence since the Covid-19 pandemic and airlines have changed their policies to match. They’ve made it more difficult, or essentially impossible, to get your money back. To protect yourself against new, less consumer-friendly airline rules it’s a good idea to use frequent flyer miles more frequently.

Why Miles?

Carriers like Turkish Airlines have rewritten their own rules refunding passengers with vouchers as opposed to money. One way to protect yourself against airline shenanigans is to book flights through one of these major mileage programs. Since airlines are converting your money into miles, if you have them, it’s better to book with miles as long as cancellations are common.

Most of the major airlines quickly return miles (well under 30 days) when they cancel a flight you don’t want to immediately re-book. Holding on to your money is a safer bet as airlines have conveniently changed rules to remove their responsibility to refund for cancellations. Using one of the major mileage programs gives you more flexibility to re-book on multiple airlines or routes, as opposed to a single carrier’s mileage program.

When You Don’t Have Miles

Use the miles you do have – even if they’re not a part of the three major mileage programs. (Here’s how to start accumulating them in one place if you’re not already.) As a general rule, you don’t want to buy miles or mileage boosters because they’re worth more in cash – but with the high rate of cancellations lately it may be worth the added insurance to purchase a small amount, if you’re just under the miles needed for a flight.

Mile Alternatives

Some specific travel insurance may be an option if you’re well below the number of miles needed to book flights to protect your purchase. The credit card you use may also be able to help, just be sure to check their policies before booking. There are good ways to earn miles without credit cards and you may actually have more miles than you realize. If you can put off air travel however, it’s a good time start stocking up for when it’s a bit less risky to buy tickets.

Commercial Airline Pilot Answers Everything Passengers Really Want To Know

Have you ever wondered what pilots might not be telling you about malfunctions in the sky, their scariest flights, or what they think about nervous fliers? I spoke with the commercial airline pilot behind Tasha’s Travel Diaries to ask those questions and all the other things we passengers wonder in the latest foXnoMad Podcast episode.

I also got to ask Tasha a bunch of plane crash questions plus how did all of those unlicensed pilots fly in Pakistan? You’ll really enjoy the full episode of this episode – and I’m guessing, many others. Subscribe to the foXnoMad Podcast here (available everywhere) and be sure to check Tasha’s Instagram and YouTube channel.

Turkish Airlines Resumes Flights: What To Know Before You Book

Turkish Airlines recently resumed many of their flights in limited capacity, giving you some options for air travel after COVID-19 lock downs but there are a few things to know before booking. You should watch the video above for the full situation but here’s a recap below.

Flights On, Flights Off

Although Turkish Airlines is offering flights to many destinations, they’re still often canceling them as well. Covid-19 hasn’t magically disappeared and Turkish Airlines has yet to refund most of its customers for cancellations made as far back as 4 months ago. Travelers are entitled to a refund in the case of cancellations by Turkish Airlines (according to their Passenger Rights) but changed their policies recently to make refunds more difficult to obtain.

You can change canceled flights without a fee through December 31, 2021 but getting your money back will be a lot more complicated. Currently only voucher refunds or miles are options.

Situation In Flux

Many of the current destinations Turkish Airlines is flying are where some of the highest cases of coronavirus are being reported. A lack of demand or reimposed travel restrictions means the chance for a canceled flight is not insignificant so if you’re worried you won’t be able to get your money back, look at your options carefully.

For a lot of travelers, that’s going to mean looking at other airlines with a better record of refunds and good customer service or like many, holding off on air travel for the time being. To further protect your flexibility with refunds if you are set on flying and have the pointsbooking with your partner program miles makes it easier to get your miles back and book with another option when you like.

Set Your Alarm Clock To Odd Numbers To Wake Up For Early Flights

phone alarms

We’ve all set 13 alarms in a row to make sure we wake up for an early morning flight, hoping the constant ringing – despite our snoozing efforts – will get us out of bed. Eventually. Such brute force methods require setting alarms well in advance of when you actually need to wake up. Snoozing feels really good but it’s barely sleep, in fact you’d be better off not disrupting your slumber early and just waking up when you need to.

There’s a good way to trick your brain into being conscious for slightly longer when your alarm sounds so you can shorten the time between your (first) alarm sounding and actually getting out of bed. The key is using odd numbers, literally and figuratively.

Melatonin Efficiency

Many taps of the snooze button on your phone are done when you’re semi-conscious, which is why it might feel like you’ve snoozed 97 or 3 times, it’s hard to tell. During the middle and later parts of the night, melatonin levels in your body are high. (Depending on your regular sleep cycles.) Melatonin is a hormone that tells your body time to sleep or wake up.

sleeping tabby cat

Snoozing feels really good because elevated melatonin levels are telling our brains it’s sleepy time. A blaring alarm sound can wake you up enough to the lighter stages of sleep to snooze but the rebound might be so intense you could not “hear” the next alarm.

At worst it’s a missed flight, at best, missing 15-20 minutes of additional quality sleep.

7:03am

The human mind is preferential to even numbers. 10 fingers, two eyes, 7:00am doesn’t give us the same sense of urgency – or novelty – 7:03am does, for example. Ok, so what about 7:05am or 7:15am? They’re odd but more familiar, the key is processing time. According to Terence Hines of Pace University:

Odd numbers stick in our brain more, are harder to digest — and as a result gain extra meanings. In western culture the numbers that attract the most superstition, three, seven and 13, are all odd.

Room 101 is a much scarier place than Room 100 because 101 is arithmetically more challenging than 100. We understand how 100 fits in to the structure of numbers — it is ten times ten, or two times fifty, or four times twenty-five. But 101 is harder to toy around with. The asymmetry is cruel to our pattern-making minds.

In terms of waking up on time and getting a few more minutes of sleep, calculating how many minutes you have to really get out of bed is harder when using an odd number – that’s also not a multiple of 5 or commonly calculated. We convert 45 minutes ahead of 7:30 or 9:00 more easily because we do it all the time. (What’s 75 minutes before 12:25? Quick!)

Sliver Of Consciousness

A tiny bit of number crunching may seem insignificant but it requires a longer window of consciousness. Even seconds of being awake can help you get out of bed – which additionally will be easier if you have a few more minutes of sleep. Using odd numbers, 3:12am works but 3:17am is better, plays on your subconscious at two levels.

For an added layer of oversleep protection, try using your bladder as an alarm clock as well. It’s a lot harder (and messier) than your phone to snooze. Keep in mind though for odd numbers, to keep them odd. Don’t use the same patterns over and over to prevent your brain from adapting.

How To Handle Visa Overstays And Issues Due To Coronavirus Travel Restrictions

airport terminal

Please note the situation is changing daily and the information below may be out of date by the time you’re reading it. Because of the quickly developing situation, I’ve included advice and a template you can send to the relevant embassies to get more information.

Closing borders has left people stranded worldwide and many of you, on tourist or other visas, wondering what will happen once travel is permitted again. You might be in a situation where your visa in a foreign country is or has already expired. Below is a template you can use to send to the appropriate embassies.

Template To Send Embassies

Subject: Question – Overstaying Because of COVID-19

Good afternoon,

I’m would like to know the correct procedure for travelers who will be overstaying their visas in (COUNTRY) due to travel restrictions, flight cancellations, and border closings related to COVID-19.

What must be done on our side to make sure we are following the rules in these extreme circumstances?

I would really appreciate if you could point me in the right direction as soon as possible.

Thank you in advance.

This template was highly successful in getting prompt replies from many embassies. Additionally, many nations have already posted or replied back to me with their current procedures. Please be sure to verify anything posted below, it is posted only for informational purposes.

European Union (EU)

In Chapter V Article 33 of the EU Visa Code regarding Extensions, the following is applicable:

The period of validity and/or the duration of stay of an issued visa shall be extended where the competent authority of a Member State considers that a visa holder has provided proof of force majeure or humanitarian reasons preventing him from leaving the territory of the Member States before the expiry of the period of validity of or the duration of stay authorised by the visa. Such an extension shall be granted free of charge.

The global pandemic falls under force majeure and visa extension fees have been waived. Get in touch with the embassy of the EU/Schengen country you are currently in to apply for an extension if you are worried about overstaying. Currently, 90 extensions are being issued in most cases for Schengen tourist visas.

buckingham palace

United Kingdom (UK)

The latest information can be found here.

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020

Your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update your records if your visa is expiring.

You should provide:

  • your full name (include any middle names)
  • date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • nationality
  • your previous visa reference number
  • why you can’t go back to your home country, for example if the border has closed

We’ll let you know when your request is received and when your visa has been extended.

u.s. capitol building

United States (US)

Tourist Visas:

Note that the expiration date on a U.S. visa does not determine how long one can be in the United States.  The way to confirm one’s required departure date is here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home.

Those who need to extend their stay must apply with USCIS.  Their website is here:  https://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/extend-your-stay.

Non-Tourist Visas:

Please refer to ECA communication dated February 7, 2020, for guidance, specifically the section on exchange visitors currently inside the United States. Sponsors and their exchange visitors are also encouraged to review the following USCIS website detailing special situations for extensions and change of visa status, including those individuals subject to INA 212(e): Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement. Go to: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations and https://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/extend-your-stay.

China

Latest updates here.

The National Immigration Administration has rolled out special measures to facilitate foreigners’ stay in China as well as their arrivals and departures amid the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak.

With no need of a separate application, foreigners in China will have their stay or residence permits extended automatically for two months during the epidemic period, Liu Haitao, an official with the administration, said on March 1 at a news conference in Beijing.

Immigration offices nationwide will issue urgent exit and entry permits within 24 fours for those coming to China for anti-COVID-19 missions, including medical assistance, drug development and academic exchanges, Liu said.

They could also apply for a special visa at Chinese ports of entry if their journey is made on too short a notice, he added.

Like Chinese citizens, foreign residents in China can file applications online and have documents delivered to their homes after the issuance, Liu said.

Australia

The latest can be found here.

I have a Visitor visa or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)

International tourists should return to their home country as quickly as possible, particularly those without family support.

If you cannot depart Australia as planned, check your permitted stay period, visa expiry date and visa conditions to make sure you remain lawful in Australia.

You can check your visa details in VEVO, the myVEVO app, in your visa grant letter or your ImmiAccount. You can check your ETA expiry and conditions through our Check an ETA service.

Under Australian migration law, it is not possible to extend a visitor visa or ETA. You must apply for a new visa before your current visa expires. You can apply to remain in Australia as a visitor unless you are eligible to workstudy or join family in Australia.

When you apply for a new visa, you may be granted a bridging visa that will keep you lawful in Australia until a decision is made on your visa application.

If your visa has already expired, see don’t hold a visa.

South Africa

The latest announcements can be found here.

Any foreign national who is already present in the Republic and originates from a country which is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak or who, in order to reach such destination of origin needs to transit a country which is affected by COVID-19, and whose temporary residence visa is due to expire or has already expired, will be allowed to re-apply for such a visa provided they meet all the prescribed requirements. Visas valid until 31 July 2020 may be issued to such applicants.

Any foreign national who originates from a country which is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak or who, in order to reach such a destination of origin needs to transit a country which is affected by the COVID-19, and who is the holder of a temporary visa which expired since 01 December 2019 and those which will be expiring up to 31 March 2020 will be allowed to re-apply for such a visa without the need to first obtain FORM 20 (Authorisation for an illegal foreigner to remain in the country pending an application for status)

These are temporary measures and is applicable until further notice.

Thailand

The latest information can be found here. New rules and restrictions for all travelers as of March 22nd.

There is a provision (clause 2.28) in the current Immigration Order 327/2557 concerning the extension of stays that allows immigration to give 30-day extension “based on embassy request”. If you have exhausted all possible extensions of your entry stamp, you may use this embassy letter to extend your stay in Thailand due to travel restrictions in your country or due to the cancellation of the flight. This extension is applicable to any type of entry stamp (visa on arrival, visa exemption, tourist visa or non-immigrant visa). You need to contact your embassy in Thailand if they are able to issue the letter. It is also good to note that some immigration offices may issue the extension without the embassy letter as long as you are able to show proof of cancellation of your flight.

Note: All nationalities currently holding a 60-day tourist visa can still obtain a 30-day visa extension just like before. All nationalities under the visa exemption scheme currently holding 30-day entry stamp are still able to extend for 30 days at the local immigration office, just like before.

Taiwan

The latest announcement:

Automatic 30-day extension for foreigners entering Taiwan on or before March 21 with visa waiver, visitor visa, or landing visa (no application is required) (overstayers excepted).

Mexico

The latest here.

The period of stay allowed will not be more than 180 days, at the end of which you must leave the country by any means because said immigration status does not allow you extend the period of stay in the country or change the condition of stay. Due to the foregoing, and because the Mexican immigration authority has not restricted departures from the country, it must foresee their departure from national territory by another means of transportation available or other than by air in the event of cancellation of the service. It will also be convenient to contact your embassy or consular representation in Mexico in order to obtain the corresponding assistance for your return. Greetings.

Turkey

There has been no general announcement made, so far it seems decisions are being made on a country to country basis. Here’s the latest for U.S. citizens. The current recommendation being made is:

The Government of Turkey announced that due to COVID-19, they are extending visa validity for tourists in Turkey, who cannot leave due to international flight suspension.

That said, we have been sending information on existing flights. Please consider taking a limited commercial option – such as a flight to Doha, Qatar, on Qatar airways, which has connection options to the United States. As long as you purchase a ticket with connections to the United States as your ultimate destination, you will be allowed to board your flight from Istanbul.

We recommend you drive to Istanbul, and take existing flight options out, before commercial flight options disappear.

Turkey (cont.) – Information For Australians

If you are not already, we highly recommend that you monitor the Australian Embassy in Turkey’sFacebook page, Twitter (@AusAmbTurkey) and webpage. For urgent consular assistance, please call our 24 hour Emergency Call Centre in Australia on +61 2 6261 3305.

Visas

We acknowledge that it’s difficult to get the correct advice on extending your visa in Turkey. At this stage, we have not been informed that Turkey will be automatically extending its visas for foreign citizens still in the country as a result of COVID-19. To get an extension, you should try to make contact with local authorities as your first point of call. If you’re still not sure who to contact or how to get an extension, we recommend that you contact the Australian Embassy in Turkey by email on [email protected].

You can also subscribe to updates from Smartraveller for changes to the situation in Turkey.

Jamaica

Visa extension applications are only being accepted by appointment – the best contact email address to use is: [email protected]

Updates Incoming

This page will be updated as new information comes in but with this being a developing, global crisis it won’t be possible to post all the information here. Check through to the links however for more information, I’ll be sure to keep adding and updating those as frequently as possible.

How Long It Takes To Get To The New Istanbul Airport

Getting to and from different parts of Turkey’s largest city to the new Istanbul Airport (IST) isn’t as convenient as it was from the former major airport in town. Planning a visit through IST is a lot easier though when you know how to get there and the time it takes to do so.

You can see the best times to get to Istanbul Airport in the video above or read on.

Timing

Traffic in Istanbul could be called punishment instead since most of the time that’s what it feels like. However, if you’re fortunate enough to have a flight in the late evening or early morning hours (10pm-7am) a ride from the European side of the city to Istanbul Airport will take roughly 30-45 minutes with a taxi. From the Asian side, add an extra hour to be absolutely sure you’ll make it to the airport on time.

ortakoy mosque istanbul

For all other hours of the day, add an extra hour of drive time to get to the airport. You may get lucky with traffic but to be absolutely sure, those are the minimum amount of times you’ll need just to get to IST.

Once There

Keep in mind at IST you’ll go through security before entering the airport, then after passport control, with a third check likely before your gate. Checking in as well, plus the security checks is a 45 minute process at non-peak hours – at all other times add an hour to this.

Adding it all up at non-peak traffic hours, you can comfortably leave for IST Airport 2.5 hours before your flight from the European side, 3.5 hours from the Asian side. During most of the day though you’ll have to add an hour to both times. So, if you’re flight is at 4pm, from the European side you’ll want to leave around 12:30pm. From the Asian side, 12pm is a safe bet.

Ride And Security

You almost never need to arrive at an airport 3 hours before your flight, two is usually sufficient. That’s the case at IST as well, but since traffic and the added security checks can take a while, calculate so you’re walking through the front door 2 hours before takeoff. Besides, if you get there early, you can enjoy using the free wifi with this hack.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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