RealTime IT News

Travel Sites Brace for War

The threat of war and possible "code red" alerts about potential terrorist attacks has prompted some of the major travel sites to launch special information centers for travelers and adopt new, more flexible policies regarding cancellations and refunds.

Expedia , for example, said that its new policy waives cancellation penalties and change fees and provides full refunds for customers who cancel or change a hotel stay, car rental or destination attraction or service booked prior to the outbreak of war or declaration of code red status for homeland security.

Meanwhile Travelocity.com, operated by Sabre Holdings , launched a new Travel Information Center to provide "the latest information on all travel company policies affecting consumers in light of geopolitical uncertainties."

At name-your-own-price travel site Priceline.com , which also operates Lowestfare.com, spokesman Brian Ek told internetnews.com that in the event of war, "we will do what we did after Sept 11 -- adhere to whatever refund, change or cancellation policy is in force with each of our supplier partners."

With war in Iraq likely in just days, the Homeland Security Department has raised the national terror alert to orange, indicating a high risk of terrorism against American interests.

For customers who have purchased airline tickets, Expedia said it will adhere to the individual carrier's policies. Most major airlines have announced flexibility in their change fees.

Up-to-the minute travel information also will be provided on Expedia's Trip Assistance section where staffers monitor the changing travel landscape.

Travelocity's information center offers information on the latest travel industry policy updates in response to the possibility of war, advice on air traffic delays, airline security guidelines, flight status and travel trends in an uncertain environment.

"Travelers now need to track the latest changes and/or guidelines affecting them with regard to elevated security levels," said Amy Ziff, editor-at-large for Travelocity.

"Expedia is focused on providing our customers what they need most -- flexibility and the most up-to-date travel-related information," said Erik Blachford, president of Expedia, North America.