Frequently asked questions about COVID-19 (Coronavirus 2019)

Updated August 17, 2020

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt around the world, here’s what you should know as a member of our EF family: We have brought all EF groups traveling internationally and within North America home. We are postponing programs, and we are committed to offering groups flexible options for rebooking. We are closely monitoring the situation with guidance from the U.S. Department of State, and other relevant U.S. and international authorities.

This is a difficult situation for everyone, but the health and safety of our travelers and staff is our top priority. EF has been leading the educational travel industry for 55 years, and we will continue to lead today, tomorrow, and in the coming months and years. We thank you for your patience in these unprecedented times. Please know that we’re here to support you, and, even though travel feels uncertain right now, we look forward to working together to ensure that seeing the world remains a possibility.

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Given this unprecedented situation, we have some exceptions to our Peace of Mind program. These changes now provide enhanced options for groups and individuals.

 

1. Our group was supposed to travel this year but our program was postponed. What happens now?
To make the process as easy as possible, all individuals that were scheduled to travel will now automatically receive an electronic Future Travel Voucher on their account for the full amount they paid (including all non-refundable payments) which is valid to use through September 30, 2022.

Your Group Leader can take advantage of the following Peace of Mind options on behalf of the group:

  • Move your existing program to a new date
    • If your group chooses to simply move the existing program to a new date there is nothing you need to do. We will automatically enroll students on the new program and apply the value of the voucher to cover the associated costs. This will allow everyone in your group to rebook to the new date easily. To better support you, we have made the decision to honor your current program price for any rescheduled date through 2021 so there will be no additional costs to move the program.
  • Choose a new program and new date
    • If your group decides to choose a new itinerary to travel on at a later date, we will simply enroll you on the new program and apply your voucher.
  • Choose to take Future Travel Vouchers for the entire group
    • We understand that it might be difficult to make plans for a future program at this time. Therefore, your Group Leader can elect to just keep your electronic Future Travel Vouchers on your account until your program can be rescheduled or for you to be able to use with one of our other EF programs or redeem for a refund. For the full list of your redemption options visit our Future Travel Voucher website. There is no need to make any decisions now, your voucher is valid through September 30, 2022.
2. For groups with programs that have been postponed as a result of COVID-19, we have enhanced your options under the Peace of Mind program in a few ways, including:
  • If an individual cannot join their group’s rebooked program but still wants to travel, they can use the full amount of their voucher toward any other EF travel product, including other programs for college students, adults, and language travel programs. Please visit our Future Travel Voucher website for details on all of the exciting ways you can redeem your voucher.
  • The full amount of the Future Travel Voucher is also transferable to anyone else in the traveler’s family or school community to enable people to transfer or resell their vouchers and recoup their investment.
  • For groups originally scheduled to depart between February 24, 2020 through May 28, 2020: If an individual would rather redeem their voucher for a cash refund, they will be able to do so, less $565.
  • For groups originally scheduled to depart on or after May 29, 2020: If an individual would rather redeem their voucher for a cash refund, they will be able to do so, less $500.
    • This allows us to partially cover costs related to non-recoverable payments to our suppliers, our staff, and the investment we have always made and continue to make in itinerary, date and destination flexibility.  
Click here for frequently asked questions about our Future Travel Vouchers.

3. What should I do if my group has not yet rescheduled our program?
Rest assured, there is nothing you need to do now. Given the circumstances, it may take your Group Leader some time to work through the details of setting up a new program. We have your Future Travel Voucher on file and recommend you stay in communication with your Group Leader on next steps.

4. My group is scheduled to travel this summer. Are we still going?
Given the evolving nature of the situation, our operations and safety teams around the world continue to assess matters on a daily basis. At this time it seems unlikely that the international and domestic travel bans and restrictions, governmental orders, and public health advisories will be sufficiently lifted in time to operate tours through the summer, nor will some key suppliers be prepared to consistently meet our safety standards. Therefore, we are encouraging everyone to contact us to reschedule your program to a later date so that you and your group can get the full and powerful experience of exploring the world together. EF will not resume program operations until we receive updated guidance from the U.S. Department of State, we learn that travel and other restrictions have been lifted, and we feel confident that our travelers will be able to fully enjoy the immersive, culturally rich experiences that we pride ourselves on delivering. As a reminder, your group also has all of our Peace of Mind options available to them if you would like to proactively reschedule your program and/or elect to receive Future Travel Vouchers. We recommend that you stay in contact with your Group Leader for the most up-to-date information regarding your program.

5. What is an EF Future Travel Voucher?
As an additional measure in response to the COVID-19 situation we have amended the terms of our Future Travel Vouchers for all travelers that were scheduled to travel in 2020. A Future Travel Voucher is issued in the amount of all monies paid to EF. Future Travel Vouchers are transferable to immediate family members and to students or faculty in the same school district as the traveler to which they are issued. You do not need to make any decisions now, you have until September 30, 2022 to take advantage of any of the below options:

EF Educational Tours
EF Explore America
EF College Study
EF Gap Year
EF Ultimate Break
EF Go Ahead Tours
EF Language Schools 

To view complete details on all of the ways to redeem your voucher visit our Future Travel Voucher website.

6. Why can't I get all my money back?
We begin planning your program as soon as you enroll, to ensure the highest quality service at the lowest price. For example, EF College Study books large volumes of flights, hotels and entrances months, if not years, in advance. Many of these at a group booking level which is subject to different cancellation rules than typical consumers. For this reason, EF has designed its cancellation policies to take into consideration the investments we make in your program long before it departs. Currently we are in an unprecedented situation that is affecting everyone across the globe. As such we have made adjustments to our standard policies to provide expanded options to our groups during this time.

In addition to freezing our cancellation fees so that they do not increase through September 30, 2020, we are also offering very flexible rebooking options, holding pricing through 2021 for any of our groups that want to move their program to a later date and making an exception by offering Future Travel Vouchers to any individual traveler who cannot travel on their group’s future program. We have also now made the vouchers even more valuable – Future Travel Vouchers will now be issued for all monies paid to EF including all non-refundables. Additionally, travelers originally scheduled to depart between February 24, 2020 and May 28th, 2020 may now redeem their Future Travel Voucher for a refund of all monies paid to EF minus $565. Travelers originally scheduled to depart on or after May 29, 2020 may now redeem their Future Travel Voucher for a refund of all monies paid to EF minus $500. This amount allows us to only partially cover costs related to non-recoverable payments to our suppliers, our staff, and the investment we continue to make in itinerary, date and destination flexibility.

7. What are my refund options?
We know that the decision to travel in the next few months is a very personal one and therefore we have amended our policies so that individuals can elect to take a Future Travel Voucher even if their group is currently continuing to travel as planned. Taking a Future Travel Voucher instead of cancelling allows you to protect your full investment and travel at a later date that works for you – you will have the option to use the voucher on a variety of EF programs. In addition, for groups originally scheduled to depart between March 1, 2020 and May 28, 2020, Future Travel Vouchers can also be redeemed for all of your monies paid to EF less $565. Groups originally scheduled to depart on or after May 29, 2020 may now redeem their Future Travel Voucher for a refund of all monies paid to EF minus $500. These options for redemption are more advantageous for many people than their current cancellation fees.
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We made the decision several months ago to “freeze” cancellation fees – meaning that the cancellation fee bracket you were in as of February 24th would not change until September 30, 2020 to allow you more time to make a decision. The chart below outlines the amended options you and your group have available to them.

Original 2020 Departure Date Amended COVID-19 Cancellation Options Through September 30, 2020
March 1 - May 28, 2020 1) Travel Voucher: Future Travel Voucher for 100% of money paid to EF good towards future travel
2) Cash Refund: Redeem Future Travel Voucher for cash refund for all money paid to EF less $565
May 29 - July 22, 2020 1) Travel Voucher: Future Travel Voucher for 100% of money paid to EF good towards future travel
2) Cash Refund: Redeem Future Travel Voucher for cash refund for all money paid to EF less $500
July 23 - September 30, 2020 1) Travel Voucher: Future Travel Voucher for 100% of money paid to EF good towards future travel
2) Cash Refund: Standard Cancellation* refund for all money paid to EF less $300 + non-refundable fees or redeem Future Travel Voucher for cash refund for all money paid to EF less $500. The option will be selected which provides the largest refund for the traveler.
*Standard cancellation fee is based on the date of February 24, 2020 when all cancellation fees were frozen for EF groups departing through September 30, 2020.

8. I purchased Global Travel Protection, can I file a claim due to COVID-19?
EF Educational Tours’ travelers are offered insurance through a plan provided by Specialty Insurance Solutions and underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company. The primary benefits of the policy prior to tour are a refund of your program price less non-refundable fees if a traveler needs to cancel from tour due to reasons that can include but are not limited to serious injury or illness requiring hospitalization and involuntary employer termination or layoff. On tour the policy provides coverage for incidents such as lost baggage and flight delays as well as coverage of hospital bills, doctors’ fees and medical transportation for illnesses or injury. Based on the circumstances, travelers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 prior to tour or parents who have recently lost their job may qualify for cancellation coverage. For a full explanation of benefits provided under this policy or to submit a claim click here. We recommend that you reach out to Specialty Insurance Solutions directly if you have additional questions regarding your specific circumstances.

9. How is EF handling the financial impact of the pandemic on the travel industry?
By operating as we always have: with our sole focus on creating the best possible experiences for our customers. Through 55+ years of careful management, our wide portfolio of educational products, and our team of 55,000 around the world we have a strong foundation and we are built for a strong future.

Our company is family-owned and has been successfully navigating world events for decades. We simply don’t have distractions like obligations to investors, creditors or banks, which means our entire global team can continue to dedicate themselves to delivering life-changing experiences and exceeding customer expectations, even in the most challenging times.

For inquiring journalists please email [email protected].