Travel corridors: Expert discusses ‘lack of transparency’
Holidaymakers due to escape to the Canary Islands for some winter sun now face “chaos” after the latest travel corridor change. On Thursday evening, Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps announced arrivals from the holiday hotspot would now face a mandatory period of quarantine.
This quarantine period will be 14 days prior to December 15, with travellers then having the option to reduce the self-isolation period on day five by taking a private COVID-19 test.
However, may holidaymakers may no longer wish to go on their travels.
What’s more, in recent months some travel firms including TUI have vowed to provide “quarantine-free” holidays, meaning destinations were suddenly cancelled in line with Government changes.
Both easyJet and TUI have issued updates following the announcement, outlining options for their customers.
This time, budget-holiday provider TUI has said it will not be cancelling flights.
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“We’re aware of the UK Government’s recent decision to remove the Canary Islands from the travel corridor list,” a TUI spokesperson told. Express.co.uk.
“TUI UK holidays are currently operating as planned.
“If you return from the Canary Islands any time after 04:00 Saturday 12th December you will need to quarantine for a maximum of 14 days, however from Tuesday 15th December the Test to Release programme will be available for customers returning to England.
“We advise customers to check the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website for more information about this.”
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The holiday provider is offering options for its customers who may not want to jet off.
TUI’s spokesperson continued: “We would like to assure customers that we will contact them directly if their holiday is affected.
“Any customers due to travel from Friday 11 December up to and including Thursday 17 December have the option to amend for free to any holiday that’s currently on sale.”
Similarly, Luton-based easyJet is offering customers the opportunity to cancel their booking and receive an online credit or rebook their holiday for a later date.
The airline also pointed out how “confusing” the rule change has been, given the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has not yet updated its travel advisory.
Currently, the FCDO states: “Spain, including the Balearic Islands but excluding the Canary Islands, based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.”
Garry Wilson, chief executive officer at easyJet holidays, said: “This is yet more disappointing news for customers who were looking forward to a well-deserved holiday, especially so close to the festive period.
“And it’s a confusing situation as we wait to see if there will be any change to FCDO advice alongside the travel corridor lists update.
“We couldn’t leave our customers with uncertainty though, particularly where Christmas bookings are concerned, so we believe it’s the right thing to do to give our customers a choice about their holiday plans.
“This is why we’ve further flexed our industry-leading booking terms. We’re committed to doing all that we can to help our customers.
“And of course we support the need to put public safety first so we’re looking forward to seeing more detail on the Test to Release scheme when it’s announced.
“We hope it’ll mean some customers will be able to take advantage of it and still be able to travel as long as FCDO travel advice allows.”
Experts from consumer rights group Which? have warned the latest travel corridor change could cause chaos.
Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: “It is hugely unfair for the government to remove the Canary Islands from its travel corridors list due to high rates of coronavirus, without also updating the FCDO’s advice to reflect this.
“Package holiday customers who wish to cancel because they cannot quarantine on arrival back to the UK will struggle to get a refund, as operators are less likely to cancel without a change to FCDO advice.
“The government must ensure that it coordinates its approach to changing travel advice, while travel operators must offer flexible rebooking options to those who cannot travel, to prevent causing further chaos for holidaymakers and leaving them thousands of pounds out of pocket as a result.”
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