By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBLSA) — A local couple said they were shocked when they were not able to cancel their Santa Barbara hotel reservation after they came down with COVID.

Industry insiders now say the travel industry isn’t as lenient with pandemic-related cancellations anymore. So, what does that mean for those booking holiday travel?

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Experts say hotels and airlines aren’t as willing to offer refunds or credits for late cancellations or non-refundable bookings.

Nicole Brimberry and her husband had a weekend getaway booked at the Hyatt Place in Downtown Santa Barbara to celebrate their five-year anniversary.

They are both vaccinated but came down with COVID-19 last week.

When they tried to cancel their reservation, they say the general manager told them they couldn’t even get a credit.

Brimberry had booked two nights in a non-refundable room through a third-party travel website. The website told Brimberry that it was up to the hotel’s general manager whether he wanted to give her a refund or credit.

“I said what would you do if you were in my shoes. And he said, ‘In the 14 years of being in this industry, I certainly wouldn’t have booked a nonrefundable room,'” Brimberry said.

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Travel advisor Melissa Wu says she recommends travel insurance for any non-refundable bookings.

“Many people want to take advantage of these great discount deals and a lot of those are non-refundable,” said Wu.

“Eighteen months ago, 12 months ago, you saw more flexibility in booking resorts and hotels. Now, more people are traveling, more policies are in place at these hotels and there is definitely less flexibility,” Wu said.

Wu says she recommends travel insurance for any non-refundable bookings but to keep in mind, many policies will not cover pandemic-related cancellations.

“There are some agencies that offer ‘cancel for any reason’ insurance regardless of the reason for your cancelation,” Wu said.

That added insurance will run you about 10 to 15 percent of the cost of your trip.

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Hyatt said they are still looking into Brimberry’s case.