This year is proving to be the most difficult in living memory for travellers. Travel options are constantly changing and it’s not straightforward as to which countries will actually welcome you.
As an Independent Travel Agent, we have constant updates on the Covid rules and regulations in other countries – and we strongly recommend that you book with a travel agent at this time rather than online. If you want any more advice, please don’t hesitate to contact Veronica at Fare Wise Travel in Hungerford on 01488 686858 or firstname.lastname@example.org
1 August 2020
Please do not be fooled into thinking that, just because we are letting people into England without quarantine from 59 countries, that we have the same rights over there. In fact some countries are turning people away from the UK or making it impossible for us to act normally, so the right advice will save you money and time.
All airlines are back operating now at about 20% capacity. Air quality has been greatly improved. Facemask wearing is strictly enforced at airports and you will be denied boarding if you don’t have one (for a long flight you are recommended to have several masks). You are also required to wear them in public areas of ferries. So we can design travel plans that suit the behaviour you want to have on holiday!
This is a stressful time for travellers at the moment and we are busy supporting our clients who are still abroad (see advice below).
In terms of the state of the travel industry, our goverment hasn’t closed airports but airlines aren’t operating if they don’t have the staff or customers. Heathrow is operating Terminals 2 and 5 only. Wizz Air has just re-started flights with extra precautionary measures out of Luton. Qantas has announced they are not going to fly long haul till end of July. We expect airlines will insist passengers wear face masks and half the seats will remain empty to give people safe space and confidence to fly. But the reality is that airlines won’t be able to afford to run so many services. There will be a major contraction of scheduled flights which will be good for the environment.
Hotels in Germany are starting to open and trains are picking up again in Italy with social distancing on board (but do they have enough staff to enforce it?) and Portugal has introduced inspector-checked cleanliness standards. Hilton and Best Western chains have ramped up deep cleaning policies to re-install confidence.
Cruise ships are used to health and safety procedures on board but they will be deep-cleaning their ships and having even more stringent policies. Passengers will have reassurance that there are always medical staff on board.
This is our advice to anyone who is currently overseas and trying to get home:
1. Most importantly for anyone with family/friends still abroad – make contact with the British Embassy/High Commission where they are – register their presence and especially their contact details. Keep in touch with the Embassy via their social media feeds on Twitter and Facebook as this will be the way they will advise of any repatriation flights.
2. Keep your insurance company informed – you may need to extend the policy or advise changes of dates.
3. Most airlines and tour operators are offering free changes to flights and trips but be aware that refunds for cancellations are mostly in the form of vouchers for future travel. Some operators have inducements to re-book including waiving any additional charges if the new holiday is more costly or adding a percentage to the value of a refund voucher. Many have altered their booking conditions in order to permit late changes/cancellations and to refund previously non-refundable deposits.
4. As ever in the first instance should you need to cancel/change a flight/holiday contact your travel agent for advice and guidance, Any bookings made through them will be referred back to them by the airlines and tour operators.
5. Whilst you are overseas, make sure to follow the government guidelines regarding coronavirus. The British Embassy in the country you are should be providing latest guidelines including what costs you might incur as a result of quarantine or hospitalisation.
6. Everyone is working in date order to re-arrange bookings so don’t worry if you haven’t heard anything about travel plans for May as yet; they will get to you.
7. In accordance with government guidelines the vast majority of travel professionals are working from home using e-mail to communicate so there can be a slight delay in response times – please bear with us.
8. There is lots of armchair travel to be done at the moment so fill your days with planning and dreaming for the future!