Simon Calder says consumer confidence 'destroyed' by travel rules
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From July 19, double-jabbed Britons have been able to travel to amber list countries without having to quarantine upon their return back to the UK. However, just days before the relaxed rule came into place, the Government announced plans to extend the amber list with a new “amber plus list”.
The “amber plus list”, which currently houses France, reinstates quarantine rules for all Britons, regardless of their vaccination status.
Now, mounting speculation suggests more holiday hotspots, including Spain and Greece, could be heading for the “amber plus list”.
The changing rules are likely to cause disruption for many, particularly those who are unable to quarantine on their return home.
Despite this, many airlines are still operating and selling flights and holidays to “amber” and “amber plus list” destinations.
What are the latest updates from Jet2, easyJet, TUI, British Airways and Ryanair?
Jet2 has not made any immediate amendments to its itinerary as a result of the new rule change.
However, the Leeds-based airline has been ramping up its holiday in recent months.
In order to help passengers understand restrictions in place for certain destinations, Jet2 has created its own Traffic Light update.
Jet2 states: “As the UK Government has previously decided not to give us advance notice of any changes to the entry requirements from different countries, please bear with us as we need to take time to consider any changes to our programme and policies.”
It continues: “Following the UK Government announcement about fully vaccinated travellers no longer having to self-isolate when returning to the UK from Amber List countries, we’ll be taking off to our Amber List destinations from July 19, 2021. Please check the travel requirements for your destination.
“We’ll review the status of Amber List destinations following the next UK Government update which we expect to be on or around August 5, 2021.
“If you’re due to depart on or before August 11, 2021, and you’re not fully vaccinated, if you want to, you can amend your booking admin-fee-free or cancel with a full refund.”
Jet2 assures it will contact customers if their booking is “affected in any way”.
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easyJet has extended its flight offering to 60 percent of its pre-pandemic levels.
Airline bosses are calling for the green list to be extended.
“For anyone wanting to travel internationally this summer, there is the government traffic light system,” explains easyJet on its website.
“As part of this, there are some essential steps that you need to take before returning home from holiday, which will vary by destination.”
The airline says it is still operating flights and holidays to amber list travel for passengers who are “happy” to go ahead with their plans.
“While you are on holiday, everyone over the age of 10 will need to take an antigen (rapid flow) test within three days before your flight back home,” explains easyJet.
“Once you’re home everyone over the age of four will need to take a PCR test on or before day two of your arrival.
“As long as you’re under 18 or fully vaccinated, there will be no self-isolation requirement on returning home from ‘amber’ list destinations.
“You’ll need to book a test package before you travel on holiday from one of the government’s approved list of providers.”
However, those who no longer wish to travel are covered by easyJet’s Protection Promise.
“You only need to pay your balance 28 days before travel, and if you need to make any changes or you simply change your mind you can cancel 28 days or more before departure and we’ll return your deposit back to you as easyJet holidays credit and refund any further payments to your original method of payment for your booking before this point,” continues the airline.
“And once you’re less than 28 days from departure, we’ve now enhanced our Covid commitments for departures up to and including September 30, 2021.
“So if your holiday destination stays on the ‘amber’ list as we get closer to your departure date, you can make fee-free changes to your booking or cancel for credit right up to 24 hours before travel.”
TUI is operating flights and holidays to green and amber list destinations.
However, it is continuing its Holiday Promise policy to allow for more flexibility.
This means passengers are entitled to change their booking free of charge if they, or a member of their party, contracts COVID-19 or are officially required to self-isolate at the time of departure.
Travellers can also benefit from this if their holiday location ends up on the red list destinations, or require self-isolation at home on the return.
If a destination is reclassified as green watchlist or amber, holidaymakers are entitled to make a change fee-free from 14 days travel until 48 hours before departure.
“There’s no limit on how many times you can change your booking fee-free, as long as the change you’re making falls within the conditions of our fee-free changes policy,” states TUI.
British Airways (BA) has operated a “reduced and dynamic” flight service throughout the pandemic.
Since May 17, it has also begun to operate package holidays.
According to the British flag-bearer, it operates “more flights to green and amber list countries than any other airline”.
Following the latest update, BA updated its website to explain: “UK residents who are fully vaccinated through the UK vaccine rollout, and children under 18, no longer have to self-isolate when returning to England from amber list destinations apart from France.”
However, in order to provide “peace of mind” for customers, BA is continuing its Book With Confidence scheme.
This means customers will be able to change their booking free of charge if on travel booked after March 3, 2002, to be completed before April 30, 2022.
BA adds: “If you have booked a flight, and are travelling between July 1 and September 30 2021 to a country which is added to the amber or red list while you are at your destination, we will waive any fare difference so you can rebook your return journey to an earlier date if necessary at no additional cost, subject to availability.”
Ryanair continues to operate flights across Europe, however airline boss Michael O’Leary has slammed the Government for making last-minute decisions.
Speaking on Sky News, the travel boss also called for fewer restrictions for those who are fully vaccinated.
He highlighted the track and trace app as a major cause of disruption.
Mr O’Leary said: “We don’t need that type of caution when 60 percent of the adult population have been vaccinated.
“I would switch off the app, I don’t think it has any effect anymore.”
Amid the chaos, the Irish carrier is continuing its fee-free changes policy.
In a statement on its website, Ryanair explained: “We know your plans may change, so we’ve dropped our flight change fees for all new bookings made before 30 September 2021, for travel before December 31, 2021.
“You can now make up to two flight changes for travel by December 31, 2021. This gives you complete flexibility and peace of mind.
“Our Zero Change Fee promo is applicable for bookings made after June 10, 2020. Flight changes must take place at least seven days before the original scheduled departure.”
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