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  1. #51
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    Oct 2004
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    50 miles E of Paradise
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    Two questions for OP before we tie these operators to the stake and burn’em:
    1. What does the agreement between your friends and Silverton/Majestic say about refunds? You know, the terms and conditions?

    2. Did your friends purchase travel insurance? If not, why not?
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  2. #52
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
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    So, I wrote this while only halfway through the comments.

    While I'm sympathetic to the OP/client, my first thought was how much annual outlay the ops make for the helicopter lease, maintenance, etc - how much this puts them in the red for the season.

    They're not smilin' over this turn of events.

    I'm guessing that future contracts (if they hopefully survive) will have trip insurance and "no refund" disclaimers plastered all over the contracts and websites.
    Quote Originally Posted by muted View Post
    I think a lot of people are under the impression heli-ops are pocketing the money from guests as pure profit but I'd guess many things are rented by them and paid for way before the season starts and that's why there isn't full refunds.

    Or as Silverton says "Heli skiing in AK requires extensive financial outlay months and months in advance by the business in order to have everything ready for the guests"

    You guys will rip on them for being candid in the above post and not having the right tone or whatever, but I appreciate it. this is TGR, none of us have the right tone, and it's great to hear the other side.
    .
    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    for an answer to the OP's question goggle "Force Majeure"

    consider lots of businesses large & small are one big bad event from going out of business and this is THE biggest baddest event I've seen ever period

    Many businesses may go tit's up and there may not be any money
    ... Thom
    Galibier Design
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  3. #53
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Tahoe
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    12,926
    Quote Originally Posted by old goat View Post
    Bankruptcy of a tour operator is something that should be covered by travel insurance. Pretty common occurrence in the travel biz.
    But it's not just that. this could disrupt a fuck of a lot of stuff. What's the alaska heli op industry going to look like next year if a number of airlines including Alaska Air don't make it. What if it turns out to be seasonable and rears back up huge next winter. There are a lot of unknowns right now and not all businesses run with the same level of liquidity. Also keep in mind they have probably lost a lot of future bookings for next year and may be experiencing cancellations there as well that are within cancellation windows.
    powdork.com - new and improved, with 20% more dork.

  4. #54
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
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    3,928
    Quote Originally Posted by TBS View Post
    Two questions for OP before we tie these operators to the stake and burníem:
    1. What does the agreement between your friends and Silverton/Majestic say about refunds? You know, the terms and conditions?

    2. Did your friends purchase travel insurance? If not, why not?
    Good question and i donít know. The post wasnít to put them to the stake. It was to get some outside input. I was of the mindset they should be refunding the customer. As I said i refunded 100% all STR who cancelled even though no hotels anywhere are doing that.

    The Airbnb policy has created some serious issue for hosts.

    I was just seeing what other people thought.

    My buddy Greg Harms who owns Third Edge Heli which is more of a booking company that has numerous guides who ski with their clients has either refunded or credited all his customers. Granted he doesnít own any helis he certainly does a shit ton of business

  5. #55
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    At the beach
    Posts
    13,220
    Regarding trip insurance. Read the policy, as ours did not cover pandemics so John Hancock told me to pound sand in the initial email exchange. Once my flight to Yurp was cancelled by the airline, then the entire trip was covered. The insurer will try to get out of paying, so read the coverage. I agree that there is a good chance this shit will be back next winter, so plan accordingly.
    Quote Originally Posted by leroy jenkins View Post
    I think you'd have an easier time understanding people if you remembered that 80% of them are fucking morons.
    That is why I like dogs, more than most people.

  6. #56
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    758
    Quote Originally Posted by skideeppow View Post
    So thatís what I should have told my Airbnb guests who I gave 100% refunds to, that we are in tough times and your not getting any money back?

    Doesnít sound very ethical
    I havenít read the full thread but you can throw ethics out the window. This isnít some minor set back in the US economy, it is a once a century global crisis.

    Put yourself in the shoes of the heli operator, do you think their creditors and vendors are extending credit terms to them? Nope...and why not? Because their partners are not extending their terms. Shit flows downhill and everyone is doing the best they can, there is no playbook for this.

    This is all about self preservation and everyone is going to feel the pain. Bitching about not getting a refund on heli skiing seems outrageous when 16M people have filed for unemployment in the US alone.
    401kís are getting rolled back, salary cuts by 40%, furloughs and layoffs...give me a fucking break about the $10k heli trip.

    Does it suck, yep...so does now having to work for another 2 years because you canít retire as soon as you wanted.




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  7. #57
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    Feb 2017
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    Seattle
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    The reality maybe that they don't have any cash to return...

  8. #58
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    Sep 2010
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    758
    Quote Originally Posted by f=ma View Post
    The reality maybe that they don't have any cash to return...
    Bingo...cash flow is of a business is what this is about, not because of ethics.


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  9. #59
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    155
    They're broke for sure. And their customers are probably fucked contractually. The risk of this type of event is always on the consumer. Any business you give a substantial pre-payment to could go tits up without delivering and you would have no recourse as an unsecured creditor. It's the American way.

  10. #60
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    Jan 2008
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    truckee
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    When circumstances beyond your control force you to cancel something that people have already paid for the ethical thing to do is to try and make your customers as whole as you can, even if it puts you out of business. But this is America, where people happily walk away from houses when they're under water, even when they can easily keep paying on the mortgage. Everyone for themselves, fuck over whoever you have to, good chance you'll wind up President. Only suckers pay their bills. Call me naive, or old fashioned, or out of touch. I'll happily own it.

  11. #61
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    Feb 2017
    Location
    Seattle
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    204
    This is a shitty situation for everyone.

  12. #62
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Central OR
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    5,268

    Why are AK heli operators not refunding money or giving credit for future trips

    ^^ Not so cut and dried if the deposit money you got from your customers has been paid to your vendors for future services, and who now will not pay you back, because they paid suppliers, staff, etc. How do you refund money you do not have? Iím a bean counter; I get how this works. No business takes 100% of a customerís payment (except maybe lawyers, who are required to by law) and sets it aside in trust until the event they paid for occurs. Deposits to vendors must be made, supplies secured; the hope is you recoup it all, plus profit, when your customer pays the final bill. Thatís a risk the business takes. Getting a refund of 100% assumes that the business has spent 0% of your deposit on prepping for the event, which is asinine.

  13. #63
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    1,500
    I thought I had an opinion on this until I read this thread and then remembered that I had lost everything last year when the economy was "normal."

    Live and learn, peeps. If you think you deserve a refund it's because you didn't consider this loss before your hindsight was 20/20.

    Nobody is trying to screw anyone. Nobody is actually paying any attention to you at all.

    Always have an exit clause.

  14. #64
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Posts
    67
    I’m not going to comment on the refund thing because I do not work in the heli-skiing industry. I do, however, fly helicopters in Canada. I’d like to know who these organizations are getting to fly helicopters now. Pilots are refusing unsafe work now. In BC there were a bunch of Covid-19 cases at heli-ski operators that necessitated pilots self-isolating due to exposure. This is particularly problematic when you consider that the field of qualified commercial helicopter pilots is small and the field of qualified longline/mountain/SAR pilots is even lower and many of these pilots work heli-ski operations when not flying critical missions. Additionally these same helicopter pilots also fly forest fire missions in the summer. To that extent most operators have closed for the season in BC. There is a legitimate need to preserve helicopter pilots and infrastructure to perform vital functions such as SAR/medevac and forest fire operations in the coming months. As a pilot I certainly would not be willing to fly a helicopter filled with people who recently travelled from all manner of places to come heli-skiing. As a government, the State of Alaska ought to be considering the need to preserve capabilities for essential missions. Flying heli-skiing operations are not essential. Even from an ethics perspective these operators should be looking at themselves whether it’s worth their employees potentially becoming sick and even dying for something as non-essential as skiing.

  15. #65
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    1,077
    Quote Originally Posted by old goat View Post
    When circumstances beyond your control force you to cancel something that people have already paid for the ethical thing to do is to try and make your customers as whole as you can, even if it puts you out of business. But this is America, where people happily walk away from houses when they're under water, even when they can easily keep paying on the mortgage. Everyone for themselves, fuck over whoever you have to, good chance you'll wind up President. Only suckers pay their bills. Call me naive, or old fashioned, or out of touch. I'll happily own it.
    Are we sure that these Heli Ops are not trying to make the customer as whole as possible? It sounds like they might be trying to figure out how to leverage these govt bailout loans/grants to pay off bills and employees, while also refunding/crediting customers. I'm guessing these "low end" heli ops dont have a crack accounting department, so its probably going to take a little bit to figure out the best course of action.

    That said, it is the american way to only consider ones self when in financial straits. We elected an oompa loompa who is the poster (man)child for gaming the system as hard as possible to benefit himself to the detriment of those around him. The old american values of being prideful and keeping your word have officially be killed and buried.

  16. #66
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Carbondale
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    10,637
    Quote Originally Posted by powdork View Post
    But it's not just that. this could disrupt a fuck of a lot of stuff. What's the alaska heli op industry going to look like next year if a number of airlines including Alaska Air don't make it. What if it turns out to be seasonable and rears back up huge next winter. There are a lot of unknowns right now and not all businesses run with the same level of liquidity. Also keep in mind they have probably lost a lot of future bookings for next year and may be experiencing cancellations there as well that are within cancellation windows.
    You should learn a bit about how business works.. and travel...

    Even if Alaska Air ceased to exist if they, "don't make it." That doesn't mean that the gates at the airports they serve cease to exist. Even if they don't make it, it usually just means that they restructure and get to tell a few of their creditors to go screw off.... Anywho, it's these small operators like the heli ops that are learning a lot about contract law, insurance law, etc right now.

  17. #67
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    Sep 2010
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    Shuswap Highlands
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    2,661
    Quote Originally Posted by Pass Rat View Post
    I’m not going to comment on the refund thing because I do not work in the heli-skiing industry. I do, however, fly helicopters in Canada. I’d like to know who these organizations are getting to fly helicopters now. Pilots are refusing unsafe work now. In BC there were a bunch of Covid-19 cases at heli-ski operators that necessitated pilots self-isolating due to exposure. This is particularly problematic when you consider that the field of qualified commercial helicopter pilots is small and the field of qualified longline/mountain/SAR pilots is even lower and many of these pilots work heli-ski operations when not flying critical missions. Additionally these same helicopter pilots also fly forest fire missions in the summer. To that extent most operators have closed for the season in BC. There is a legitimate need to preserve helicopter pilots and infrastructure to perform vital functions such as SAR/medevac and forest fire operations in the coming months. As a pilot I certainly would not be willing to fly a helicopter filled with people who recently travelled from all manner of places to come heli-skiing. As a government, the State of Alaska ought to be considering the need to preserve capabilities for essential missions. Flying heli-skiing operations are not essential. Even from an ethics perspective these operators should be looking at themselves whether it’s worth their employees potentially becoming sick and even dying for something as non-essential as skiing.
    Yup. Heli ski outfits up the valley were grounded by Mar 17; no idea how they are addressing the issue of cancelled trips in the height of a fantastic snowpack season. Clientele for those outfits are generally the upper 0.1%, so most are probably not having hardship if they lose a couple or ten grand.
    Our local pilot is grounded except for essential/emergency flights. Was up on a search in the park a couple weeks ago, and we flew with his door open, me alone in the back of the long ranger glassing the river. Fire crews are staging for the grassfire season now, and the protocols for approved flights are very extensive. It will be a very interesting season.

  18. #68
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    73
    As someone who got their bucket list AK trip cancelled (today was supposed to be last ski day up there, F!)... I totally understand the operators position. It is a big upfront cost business - bird leases, insurance, fuel contracts, etc - for a short season. It is a passion business with thin margins - no one's getting super rich anywhere in the ski industry I don't think, short of maybe the Vail CEO. It was a bucket list luxury for me, and I understood the risk of being shut out based on weather - this is just mother nature imposing herself in a much bigger way! I've gotten good communication from the operator on what they're trying to do with fed money, vendors, etc to do as right as possible for their clients while still saying afloat themselves.
    Like many as said, this is hard for everyone and there's no windfall for anyone. I already spent my money. I wish I got the experience in return, but mom nature imposed herself. I hope the operators survive 1) for their own sake and 2) so I can still do it some day in the future. And in the meantime, many have bigger problems than this.

  19. #69
    Join Date
    Nov 2018
    Location
    outer spokanistan
    Posts
    231
    cruise ships shut down
    CAN border closed
    air travel reduced

    AK municipalities and small businesses that depend on
    seasonal tourism are all looking over the edge right now
    some heading for an economic meltdown
    the price of oil ~ $31 a barrel won't help

    .
    "we all do dumb shit when we're fucked up" mike tyson

  20. #70
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    cordova,AK
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    2,824
    Quote Originally Posted by romeo tango View Post
    cruise ships shut down
    CAN border closed
    air travel reduced

    AK municipalities and small businesses that depend on
    seasonal tourism are all looking over the edge right now
    some heading for an economic meltdown
    the price of oil ~ $31 a barrel won't help

    .
    late 80's were some quality years.
    off your knees Louie

  21. #71
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    Jan 2004
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    Love to know what the price of gas is at the bottom LCC 7-11

  22. #72
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Posts
    125
    Question for the insurance savvy: could the heli ops have conceivably purchased an insurance policy that covers their asses in a situation like this?

  23. #73
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    50 miles E of Paradise
    Posts
    9,289
    Business Interruption Insurance would be one avenue.
    Don't know if standard policies would cover interruption due to pandemic. In a recent example, the BI policy SXSW had did not. OTOH, I believe I read that the US Tennis Open's policy does...

    Also don't know what the pricing would look like - again depends on the covered risks.

    Paging Conundrum...
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  24. #74
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    North Vancouver/Whistler
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    11,804
    Quote Originally Posted by MegaStoke View Post
    Question for the insurance savvy: could the heli ops have conceivably purchased an insurance policy that covers their asses in a situation like this?
    The premiums for pandemic insurance are insane. Could they? Sure. Would they? No

  25. #75
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    228
    Quote Originally Posted by LeeLau View Post
    The premiums for pandemic insurance are insane. Could they? Sure. Would they? No
    Heard the other day on radio so my figures may be slightly incorrect.
    Wimbleton has been paying 2 million a year for the last six years (since SARS).
    This year they collected. 120 million. Lloyds took a beating there.

    Don't think a low rent Heli Op could afford the premiums.

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