A note from our Managing Director
April 22, 2020
We at Academic/Discovery Expeditions are acutely aware of how this pandemic has affected all of our lives. Our commitment to our clients’ safety and well-being is as strong as it always has been for the nearly 20 years that we have been in business offering our groups the highest quality and most fairly priced customized educational tours available. Looking back at what has unfolded this season, we are saddened on so many levels, while also continually heartened and encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive responses we’ve received from our travelers. Thank you for your kindness and loyalty.
Where are we now? As the spring travel season progresses, it has become clear that any type of group travel is not feasible for the foreseeable future. This has resulted in the ongoing cancellation of trips by our schools and organizations. It is a challenging situation, and we fully support your administrators’ decisions.
Academic/Discovery Expeditions is pleased to currently offer the fairest cancellation refund policy in the student travel industry when our clients find that cancellation is indeed their best option. Since the crisis first hit, our team has been working nonstop to ensure that refunds have been processed quickly and without unnecessary delay. In conjunction with our travel insurance partner, TripMate, we have been able to maximize protection of your investment and provide above average cash refunds in comparison with group travel industry standards. We will continue on this course until everyone has received their refunds. We are very proud of this achievement and understand instinctively that given the current economic situation, clients appreciate cash refunds rather than company credits toward future travel.
We continue to learn and grow, and believe we will become an even stronger company for it. For example, we know that TripMate, our long-time insurance partner, is one of the only travel insurers to provide quarantine-related coverage under certain specific circumstances. We appreciate their outstanding commitment to our travelers. After several long conversations with our insurance account managers, we also understand that not all possible virus-related cancellation scenarios qualify for coverage under the standard policy, and that the Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) additional protection is by far the best solution in such instances. For this reason, we have decided that CFAR insurance will no longer be optional — going forward, Academic/Discovery Expeditions will be purchasing both standard and CFAR insurance on behalf of all of our clients. This will offer another layer of protection and allows us to insure that clients that have paid us in good faith for trips will continue to be well taken care of into the future.
Our future is a strong one… we fully anticipate that the human being’s inner essence and desire for learning and exploring our world will once again rise when this situation comes to a close and Academic/Discovery Expeditions will be ready, willing, and able to make all of your educational travel plans a reality.
Our entire team promises that we will continue to exceed all of your expectations, and we look forward to traveling with you again soon.
Andrew Selinka, Managing Director
COVID-19: Frequently Asked Questions
Last updated: April 22, 2020
If you have any questions or concerns about your trip, please contact the Group Leader for your particular school to find out what their plan and strategy is for travel. They they are in constant communication with us and will have the most up-to-date information.
Here’s what we are doing:
As new reports of Coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to develop, the health and safety of our travelers remains our first priority. We are actively following the guidance of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) to help ensure the actions we are taking are in line with the latest recommendations. We are also in close communication with our partners on the ground across the country and around the world.
We will not send travelers to any areas that we wouldn’t visit with our own families or have been deemed unsafe by the CDC, Department of State, or WHO.
Who should I contact with questions?
Please contact your school’s Group Leader if you have concerns or questions. Your group leader and the Program Directors are in touch regularly, and they will be the best resources for you.
Is my trip still running?
It is our policy that all our trips will run as planned, unless an official travel ban or pertinent geographic quarantine makes it unfeasible. This is not to dismiss the risks or concerns, but it is a stance of careful readiness in response to current mandated travel restrictions, or rather the lack thereof.
We are working with Program Leaders to communicate any trip changes directly, as we are handling each on a case-by-case basis.
For continuing updates on the situation, please visit the CDC’s site: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html
I am worried about traveling this year. What should I do?
First, please contact your school’s Group Leader as they will have the most updated information about your trip. We are committed to student safety and will not take anyone to a location that is not deemed safe for travel.
Vendors across the world have increased their cleaning protocols in response to COVID-19. Buses are being cleaned and sanitized nightly. Airlines have HEPA air filer systems installed on aircraft and have increased the frequency at which they are conducting deep cleaning of aircraft to nightly. We are working exclusively with vendors who are committed to upholding the highest safety and sanitary procedures, and maintaining a clean and healthy space for all.
What is the cancellation policy?
We understand many travelers are considering what would happen should they decide of their own volition to cancel their travels.
Academic Expeditions/Discovery Expeditions offers a company sponsored cancellation policy and affiliated refund policy directly determined by the number of days prior to trip departure that our finance office receives written notice of cancellation. Over 120 days we retain $100, 119-61 days we retain 25% of trip price, 60-31 days we retain 50% of trip price, and 30 days or less we retain 100% of trip price. This policy is found under our terms and conditions in your Registration and Group Travel Agreement.
Our full Terms & Conditions can be found here: https://academicexpeditions.com/terms-conditions/
How does Travel Insurance relate to cancellation?
If Standard TripMate Insurance is included in your trip price, it offers coverage based upon specific occurrences of medical, legal, financial and travel events and refunds 100% of monies paid to date less premiums.
Note that the Standard TripMate Insurance may not apply to all cancellation scenarios related to COVID-19. Each case is filed and handled directly between the traveler and the insurer, “TripMate.” Read about TripMate’s general coverage in relation to COVID-19: http://www.tripmate.com/main/coronavirus/
You can also learn more about the specifics of the plan that was chosen for your trip, by going to our insurance page https://academicexpeditions.com/insurance/ and follow the steps to view your particular travel protection plan.
For travelers who opted to purchase the additional Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) benefit, no prerequisites or explanation is required for cancellation. This additional policy allows travelers to cancel, no questions asked, up to 48 hours prior to departure date and receive 75% of any remaining trip costs that were not refunded based on our cancellation terms. The CFAR benefit was an optional selection at the time of your initial registration. Note, the CFAR option is not currently available for residents of New York.
How do I know if and how my trip is insured?
We understand that most travelers registered months ago, and may not remember what insurance was offered or selected originally. To find out, follow these steps:
- Log in to your account at https://mytrip.academicexpeditions.com/
- Click on “My Trips” and scroll to your traveler under the trip in question.
- Click “Edit”
- Scroll down to Product Add-ons and look to see if the box to the right of the insurance option is checked. If it is checked, you already have it. If the box is empty, you do not have it.
NOTE that this section is for referencing purposes only; you are not able to click and change what the selection is here. Adding CFAR benefit to your trip is only an option before 60 days prior to the trip start, and it must be done manually on our end through direct contact with our finance staff.
I am having a difficult time reaching customer service. What do I do?
As you might expect, our phone lines and inboxes are experiencing an unprecedented level of inquiries regarding the coronavirus situation. We appreciate your patience, and are striving to respond as quickly as possible. Please know that we are doing everything we can to provide the best service possible.