The Holiday Guru is always on hand to answer your questions.
With summer holiday season upon us, he advises readers on everything from battling airport queues and renewing passports to navigating flight cancellations.
Here’s how to save your summer getaway…
The Holiday Guru advises readers on everything from battling airport queues and renewing passports to navigating flight cancellations
Q. How likely do you think it is that my flight abroad will be cancelled?
A. There seems a strong chance British Airways and easyJet flights, in particular, could be cancelled. These airlines are suffering the worst staff shortages, caused by cutbacks during the pandemic. On Thursday, BA slashed 130 short- and medium-haul flights, while easyJet cut 30 flights. More than 10,000 passengers are believed to have been affected.
Q. This sounds terrible, is it possible I could lose my holiday at the last minute?
A. You will probably be fine as airlines are now cancelling flights well in advance — at least two weeks ahead of departure — and it is the airline’s duty to get you on an alternative service flying the same day. This could be with a rival airline if it has no spare seats of its own.
Q. But that could mean flying in on a plane that arrives late at night at my destination…
A. Quite possibly. However, when allocated an alternative flight after a cancellation, go to the ‘manage my booking’ page of your airline’s website to check if there is an earlier plane that day. Some airlines have been pushing people onto later flights when better slots are available. You should be able to switch.
If your flight is cancelled, it is the airline’s duty to get you on an alternative service flying the same day, the Holiday Guru reveals
Q. Is there any way that I could get around the threatened cancellations?
A. Yes, it may be better to book a mid-week flight if flying at the height of summer as potential staff shortages often peak at weekends, resulting in cancellations. Airports are also likely to be less stressful during the week.
Q. I have read of long queues at airports. How bad are security delays likely to be?
A. It will be a matter of timing and luck. Queues should be shorter, but predicting when staff shortages occur is just guesswork, with Covid continuing to strike. On Monday, two-hour security delays were reported at Manchester, Birmingham and Stansted. Airports are desperately recruiting security staff, who require detailed background checks and training. This is slowing things down.
Q. So how long before a flight is it recommended that passengers arrive at airports?
A. Most airports recommend arriving three hours before a flight. It is unfair, but you will struggle to be reimbursed by the airport, airline or insurance if you miss a flight due to long queues.
According to the Holiday Guru, most airports recommend arriving three hours before a flight
Q. Are the security delays we are seeing, mirrored at baggage check-in at most airports?
A. Again, this could be down to timing. If you happen to arrive when a shift is changing, you could be hit by long delays, especially if several flights arrive simultaneously. Recently, Heathrow has had baggage delays of more than an hour — and in the summer it could be worse.
Q. My passport needs to be renewed — will it be possible to get a new one by August?
A. Touch and go. The Home Office is recommending that travellers get in passport applications ‘as soon as possible’ as the official target of renewing passports within ten weeks is regularly breached. Staff shortages and a surge in passport applications are being blamed.
The Holiday Guru says that it’s ‘touch and go’ as to whether travellers will be able to renew their passports in time for an August holiday
Q. That makes me nervous, is there anything I can do to ensure I have a new passport in time?
A. Yes, paying extra for a one-day premium service or the one-week fast track. The former costs £177 while the latter is £142 — both require appointments and in person collection; see ‘Get a passport urgently’ at gov.uk. But high demand means it can be hard to get a slot. Standard applications are £75.50.
Q. Do I need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form to return to the UK or take Covid tests before travelling abroad?
A. You no longer need to complete a PLF to return to the UK. Going overseas, however, the need to take a test or prove your vaccination status (using the NHS app) depends on which country you are planning to visit.
When travelling from the UK, the need to take a Covid test or prove your vaccination status depends on which country you are planning to visit, the Guru reveals
Q. How do I find out about Covid regulations in individual countries to make sure I meet requirements?
A. It is best to check the latest ‘entry requirements’ for your destination at gov.uk. For example, negative Covid tests and proof of vaccination are needed for visits to the U.S. Meanwhile, proof of vaccination or proof of recovery from Covid in the past six months is OK for Spain.
Q. So should I book my summer holiday now or wait till later, when things might be clearer?
A. If you are planning to go on a package holiday, book it as soon as possible. Rising fuel and other costs could push up prices later, and you will be covered financially for cancellations by the Package Travel Regulations.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
If you need advice, the Holiday Guru is here to answer your questions. Email us at [email protected]