It was supposed to be the trip of their dreams. A week at Orlando’s Disney World filled with choir competitions and fun. But it never happened because of the coronavirus.
“It sucks,” said Granite Hills High School junior Saige Wilbur.
Wilbur and 39 of her “choir family” had spent the past year babysitting, holding bake sales and performing to earn the more than $1,700 needed to pay for each child to attend Festival Disney.
“It’s really disappointing, like first not being able to go and second, not getting all of our money back,” Wilbur said.
“These are the families that are losing their jobs right now,” said Choir Director Janessa Nadeau, who explained that several of the families pinched pennies all year long to help their kids take what many consider to be the trip of a lifetime.
Nadeau has been trying to get them their money back. She booked the trip through a travel agency called Director’s Choice. Nadeau said the agent handling the choir’s arrangements said, “If you cancel the trip there are no refunds, and I said but we’re not canceling the trip, they are.”
Nadeau said the agent promised to try to get answers for the teens and their families, but said refunds don’t usually happen when it involves group travel.
NBC 7 reached out to Director’s Choice, and to the two airlines booked to fly the teens and their chaperones to Orlando and back.
Alaska Airlines did not respond, but Frontier Airlines told us they’ve only had limited conversations with the travel agent and that the airline’s no-fee change policy is in effect. It would allow credits for the cost of the flights to be used within 90 days.
The Director of the Student and Youth Travel Association reached out to NBC 7 on behalf of the travel agency.
Here is their statement:
“The Student & Youth Travel Association (SYTA), on behalf of our tour operator members, is disappointed to hear about the cancellation of the Granite Hills High School Choir’s trip to Disney World in light of the park’s closure amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We understand the frustration felt by students, parents, and teachers at this moment."
"The good news is that our tour operator members are staunch consumer advocates on behalf of the students that travel with them. Our members are working directly with hotels, airlines, transportation providers, attractions, restaurants, and destinations—a complex chain of transactions—to find solutions including re-bookings and, when possible, refunds. As you can imagine, this is a time-consuming process, especially given the current impact on the global travel industry, but we are committed resolving these issues on behalf of our clients while ensuring that students and youth have an opportunity to gain greater understanding of the world through the experience of travel”