UK travel: Expert advises on booking summer holidays
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Hotel quarantine has become the latest travel restriction to come into force. As of today, February 15, arrivals from a list of 33 “high risk” countries must self-isolate in a Government approved hotel at their own expense.
This rule comes as the UK is currently in its third national lockdown, which means all international leisure travel is currently “illegal”.
As a result, many package holiday providers had already cancelled vast numbers of travel plans, offering customers refunds or the chance to rebook.
However, last week further changes were made by some operators.
Here are the latest updates for easyJet holidays, Jet2 holidays, TUI, British Airways (BA) holidays and Virgin Atlantic holidays.
easyJet holidays has cancelled all package holidays up to and including March 24 in line with current lockdown and travel restrictions.
However, the airline has not yet said whether any holidays will be impacted beyond this point.
Customers who have had their holiday cancelled by the operator will be contacted directly and provided with three options.
They may either rebook their holiday for a new date and destination, accept a voucher which can be used towards further travel or request a full cash refund.
easyJet has said it is aiming to provide refunds in “an average of 12 days”.
Though the holiday provider has yet to provide updates on travel after March 24, customers with holiday bookings are covered by the airline’s Covid promise.
As part of its “Protection Promise” passengers who are impacted by quarantines, including the new hotel quarantine rule, are able to request a refund or rebook their flight for no extra charge.
easyJet holidays adds: “With safety and enjoyment front of mind we will cancel any holidays where the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advises against all but essential travel.
“We’re constantly reviewing bookings ahead of planned travel dates to give holidays as great a chance as possible to go ahead. If it’s likely your holiday will be impacted we’ll be in touch to discuss your options, and unless you’ve already taken action to cancel or change your booking, we will make a carefully considered decision on whether your holiday is able to go ahead in the week leading up to your departure date.
“Even where the FCDO advice permits travel, if at the point of departure there is a known requirement for routine quarantine or self-isolation on arrival in your holiday destination, our standard response is that we’ll cancel your holiday.
“If it’s likely that your holiday will be impacted by these restrictions, we’ll get in touch no later than a week before your planned departure date.”
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Jet2 holidays made the decision last week to extend the cancellation of its package holidays and flight operators.
The travel firm has now axed all holidays up to and including April 14.
This is an extension from the previous mid-March return to flying.
Additionally, package holidays to Iceland are suspended until April 26.
Jet2 has vowed to contact customers directly and will automatically issue them with a refund equal to the amount paid.
Posting to Twitter, the Leeds-based carrier said: “Due to the ongoing uncertainty and travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have taken the decision to extend the suspension of flights and holidays up to and including 14th April 2021.
“Where customers yet to travel are affected by any programme changes, our industry-leading and prompt refunding of over £1bn has been widely praised, and we will continue to automatically cancel affected bookings with a full refund.”
In a statement, a Jet2 holidays spokesperson said: “If you’re due to travel from April 15, 2021, onwards, we’ll provide an update closer to the time,” a Jet2 spokesperson said in a statement.
Following the announcement of the UK’s third national lockdown, TUI made the decision to cancel some of its holiday plans on January 5.
TUI states on its website: “Due to the impact of COVID-19 and travel restrictions in place all TUI holidays up to and including March 7, 2021, have been cancelled.
“Customers will be contacted in departure date order to discuss their options, which will include amending to another holiday with an incentive or cancelling and receiving a full refund.
“We will constantly review our holiday programme in line with updated travel advice.”
Holidays due to take place on or before April 30, 2021, destined for Goa, India; La Palma, Canary Islands; Phuket, Thailand, The Gambia and Florida are also cancelled.
The holiday operator has yet to announce any changes related to the latest travel restrictions.
“We’re aware of the Government’s announcement regarding mandatory hotel quarantine for arrivals to the UK from ‘red list’ countries from February 15,” a TUI spokesperson told Express.co.uk.
“As we’re currently not operating, we’re working through what this means for our holiday programme and we’ll be contacting any impacted customers as soon as we have more information.”
British Airways holidays
British Airways is operating a “reduced” and “dynamic” service which means holidays and flights could change at any time.
Last week, the airline further cancelled its scheduled package holidays up to and including March 15.
A British Airways spokesperson told Express.co.uk: “If we cannot fulfil a holiday, we’re committed to ensuring customers receive a full refund within 14 days.
“Customers who are unable to travel, or choose not to, can continue to change their holiday without a change fee, or request a voucher for future use.”
The airline is currently in the process of contacting all customers who had a package holiday booked on or before March 15.
On the British Airways website, it explains: “If your flight is cancelled, please rest assured that we’ll contact you.”
As phone lines are busy, passengers are requested only to call if they are flying within the next 72 hours.
Virgin Atlantic holidays
Virgin Atlantic has cancelled holidays under its package holiday arm up to and including February 29, 2021.
“In line with continuing national lockdown restrictions, Virgin Holidays has reviewed its upcoming holiday schedule and extended cancellations from February 14, 2021, up to and including February 28 2021,” said Virgin in a statement.
“Customers affected will be contacted in departure date order to confirm their cancellation and the options available to them, including a voucher redeemable up until September 30, 2021 (ATOL-protected until March 31 2021), which they can use to rebook a holiday, departing any time before April 30, 2023.
“This can either be to the same destination or we can look at alternatives, as well as different times of the year.
“Virgin Holidays continues to review the upcoming holiday schedule regularly, extending cancellations on a rolling basis, in line with developing national lockdown rules.”
On its website, Virgin adds: “We also must consider the continued restrictions in many of the destinations we fly to.”
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