Some tour companies include the offer in their travel insurance.
By JANE ENGLE
LOS ANGELES TIMES
Major tour companies, many of which waived penalties for travelers who backed out of trips immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, recently began extending the offer for bookings through the end of the year.
New York-based Trafalgar Tours USA, whose customers, according to its spokespeople, number "in the six figures" each year on trips throughout the world, offers what it calls a "Peace of Mind Guarantee."
It lets customers reschedule trips up to 24 hours before departure without penalty. Such trips must be booked by Dec. 31 and may be rescheduled this year or next. (Customers who cancel without rescheduling are charged the usual penalties.)
The guarantee applies to tours involving most but not all of the airlines the company works with, said president Gavin Tollman.
Call (800) 854-0103, or visit www.trafalgartours.com on the Web.
Others: Colorado-based Globus & amp; Cosmos, which said it sends more than 500,000 people on trips worldwide each year, has announced a similar policy for bookings through Dec. 31.
Unlike Trafalgar, which offers the guarantee for free, Globus & amp; Cosmos wraps it into its travel insurance, with premiums starting at $59 per person, said spokeswoman Barbara Bauerle.
Contact the company at (800) 221-0090 or www.cosmostours.com on the Web.
Miami-based Far & amp;Wide Travel Corp., which has 20 tour operators serving more than 200,000 travelers each year, offers what it calls a "Safe & amp;Sound" program.
Customers may cancel trips up to 60 days before departure or change or postpone trips up to one day before, without penalty.
The program also provides benefits up to $100 per day if a trip is delayed or interrupted, and covers medical expenses and emergency aid, emergency cash advances and a 24-hour toll-free phone to call for travel assistance.
The program is free for bookings through Dec. 31, said Executive Vice President Barry Kaplan; after that date, "We haven't decided what we will charge," he said.
Contact the company at www.farandwide.com on the Web.