1. What is EF doing in reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak?

Within three days of President Trump’s March 11 restriction on travel to the U.S. from Europe, EF brought all of our European travelers – including those in the UK - back to the U.S. We also returned all of our travelers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico early from tour.

The decision was also made to postpone all tours departing in March through June and to extend our Peace of Mind program to travelers on all March through June tours postponed due to coronavirus. We have further extended the Peace of Mind program to all travelers departing through September 30, 2020.

Additionally, we have enhanced the options available to travelers whose tours scheduled to depart on or before September 30 are cancelled due to COVID-19, under the Peace of Mind program in several significant ways. Please review our Peace of Mind website to review these enhancements.

2. My group is scheduled to travel later 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 tour 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 tour 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 tour 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 tour.

3. What options does our group have if we want to cancel our tour prior to September 30, 2020?

All travelers scheduled to depart through September 30, 2020 have until that date to cancel or select one of the following options:

  • Rebook for future travel with EF. To better support you, we have made the decision to honor your current tour price for any rescheduled date through 2021.
  • Choose to have each traveler receive a Future Travel Voucher worth the full value of all monies paid to EF, including non-refundable fees, and redeemable for (1) travel on any EF Tours or EF Language Schools Program or (2) a cash refund. The cash refund value of a Future Travel Voucher is dependent on whether a traveler was planning to travel to tour via flight or bus and on departure date: 

     For Travelers Planning to Travel Via Flight:

    • Cancelled Tours via Flight Scheduled to depart March 1 – May 14, 2020: cash refund option equal to all monies paid to EF less $450.
    • Cancelled Tours via Flight Scheduled to depart May 15 – September 30, 2020: cash refund option equal to all monies paid to EF less $350.

    For Travelers Planning to Travel Via Bus:

    • Cancelled Tours via Bus Scheduled to depart March 1 – September 30, 2020: cash refund option equal to all monies paid to EF less $150. If the refund to which a traveler is entitled under our Booking Conditions is greater than the cash refund value of Future Travel Voucher, the traveler will receive the standard cancellation refund.
To further explore all of your redemption options, please visit our Future Travel Vouchers page.

4. 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 who were scheduled to travel March 1 through September 30, 2020. A Future Travel Voucher is issued electronically in the amount of all monies paid to EF (including all non-refundable fees). Future Travel Vouchers may be used towards a travel program with a variety of EF products or it may be redeemed for a cash refund (refund amounts vary based on original departure date). Future Travel Vouchers may be resold and are transferable to immediate family members and to students or faculty in the same school district as the traveler to whom they are issued. Your Future Travel Voucher is valid through September 30, 2022—so you do not need to make any decisions on how to use it at this time. To view complete details on all of the ways to redeem your voucher, visit our Future Travel Voucher website.

5. Why can't I get all my money back?

We begin planning your tour as soon as you enroll, to ensure the highest quality service at the lowest price. For example, EF Explore America 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 tour 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 May 15th, we are also offering very flexible rebooking options, holding pricing through 2021 for any of our groups that want to move their tour 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 tour. 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 may now redeem their Future Travel Voucher for a cash refund worth all monies paid to EF less an amount that is determined by the group’s mode of transportation to and from tour and departure date. 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.

6. Why do cash refund amounts differ depending on departure date?

Our refund policy has always been structured around how close we are to your departure date. In mid-March, when the federal government began to restrict travel and city and state governments began to issue stay at home orders, we were mere weeks and for some tours days away from our March, April and early May groups’ departure dates. We enter contracts with our suppliers – including the hotels, restaurants and attractions that make up the tour experience – years in advance. Because we book our suppliers’ services in bulk, these contracts have cancellation terms that are different from those that an individual consumer receives and are generally tied to a tiered timeframe in which the closer to the contracted services that we cancel the more money we owe.

Given the unprecedented nature of these postponements, we made a temporary exception to our standard cancellation terms so that our travelers would have the opportunity to recoup their full investment by offering Future Travel Vouchers worth all monies paid to EF (including non-refundable fees). We went a step further by offering a cash refund option of all monies paid to EF less $450 ($150 for bus customers), which only partially covered our costs. Most of these tours were not eligible for any refund, yet we’ve offered a refund for a significant amount of the tours’ cost.

Since mid-March, when travel was first restricted due to COVID-19, we have been focused on mitigating costs toward future tours so that we would be able to pass additional savings on to customers whose tours were running further in the future. These efforts have allowed us to increase the cash refund value of Future Travel Vouchers granted to travelers whose tours were scheduled to depart May 15 or later. It remains that the best and easiest way forward is for group to move their tour to next year and not lose any money. Families can also get a travel voucher for the full amount they've paid that can be used for any EF product and is valid for two-and-a-half years.

7. If the value of the cash refund option for my Future Travel Voucher was increased after I received my Voucher or after I requested a refund, am I still eligible for the increased refund amount?

Yes. Your traveler account and your Future Travel Voucher will be automatically updated to reflect any enhancements to the cash refund option available to you. If you’ve already requested and/or received a refund, EF will automatically process the additional refund amount in a subsequent payment within 4–6 weeks. You do not need to take further action to receive the adjusted refund.