As we continue to emerge from lockdown to a new kind of normal, many of us have been eagerly waiting for the travel restrictions to be lifted from some of our favourite holiday destinations.
With announcements and procedures constantly evolving, as exemplified by the recent and sudden quarantine measures imposed on holidaymakers returning from Spain, it is an ever-changing picture.
These latest events have perfectly illustrated the difficulties faced in keeping on top of a constantly evolving situation and the value of booking with an accredited travel agency like ourselves.
The picture is constantly changing with regards to destinations, regulations and requirements. There are some recommended sources of general information that are worth keeping an eye on;
the BBC has published a comprehensive guide to different countries requirements if you are looking to holiday and the UK’s current regulations
the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is the official source of latest government policy
the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has also just updated an extremely useful guide for customers.
Judging by the significant increase in enquiries received since we reopened our South Woodford shop on 15 June, it appears that this awful virus is not going to destroy our love affair with travel and the UK public will adapt as necessary.
What has become clear, is that the way forward will most definitely affect the way that we travel.
We are of course monitoring things closely, attending online seminars, reading hundreds of updates from all areas of our industry and we are in regular contact with airlines, tour operators, hotels and associates globally to be able to offer the latest advice and expectations to clients wishing to travel.
I am confident that procedures in place go a long way to ensuring our safety from the moment we set foot out of our front doors.
So, should you want to travel imminently or organise a holiday to look forward to later, you will no doubt have lots of questions.
Be prepared that the experience may be a little different with a few compromises and a little extra patience needed along the way.
Here are a few things that you can expect, including content that provides some insight into how airlines and hotels have adapted:
Here's Jet2’s guide to the flying experience:
Before you travel
Ensure that you have any required paperwork and visas in place
Don’t travel if you are displaying any symptoms of COVID-19 (high temperature, persistent cough, loss of taste or smell)
If flying, check the status of your flight with your airline or travel agent as some schedules are still subject to change
Face coverings are required at all times inside the airport and you will not be permitted to fly if your face is uncovered. It is highly likely you will need your covering in place until arrival at your resort/ hotel so pack additional masks in your hand luggage as you may require more for longer journeys
Ensure you are checked in electronically and your boarding passes are available for scanning on a device
The flying experience
Expect things to take longer. Allow two hours check-in time for domestic and European journeys and at least three hours for long haul
Passengers will be expected to maintain social distancing as far as possible throughout their journey
Hand sanitising stations have been installed throughout airports and extensive cleaning will be taking place within the terminal
Expect temperature screening on the entry to security and on arrival at your destination
Protective screens have been introduced at various locations throughout terminals, including check-in desks and security
The rules on hand luggage have not changed. Liquids (including hand gel) must be in containers of less than 100ml and placed in a clear plastic bag before entering security
Face coverings will need to be kept on as you pass through security, although you may be asked to remove it if you are selected for an additional search and at passport control
Many shops and restaurants remain closed so there may be very limited availability of food and drink inside the terminal
A basic food service may be offered which will reduce physical contact with crew but special meals, including children’s meals, may be unavailable so bring your own food if required
Every surface is disinfected after every flight including seats, screens, seat buckles and tray tables and aircraft cleaned thoroughly every day
Cabin air is completely replaced every 2 to 3 minutes, passing through HEPA filters that remove microscopic bacteria and virus clusters with over 99.9% efficiency, equivalent to hospital operating theatre standards
We are closely monitoring the guidelines and procedures that have been put in place for all our hotel partners reopening overseas to ensure expectations are communicated.
The measures are comprehensive and impressive to ensure guest safety and provide confidence and reassurance.
Here is a snapshot of what you can expect in general at your resorts and hotels:
Public spaces have been reconfigured to allow for physical distancing. They, and restrooms, will be cleaned at increased frequency with the recommended disinfectants in accordance with guidelines. Special attention will be paid to high-touch areas such as door handles, push plates, handrails and elevator buttons.
Face Coverings & Gloves
Staff will be required to wear face coverings while on property plus will be equipped with gloves and appropriate PPE as required and have been trained on enhanced procedures to ensure a safe environment for guests.
Everyone will be expected to adhere to proper physical distancing. Markers and other visual cues will be visible as distance reminders. Elevator usage will be limited to one party at a time.
Hand sanitiser stations will be found in high traffic areas throughout the property. Staff will perform thorough handwashing and sanitisation regularly and after each guest interaction.
Restaurants have been arranged to maintain physical distancing. Menus will be single-use or provided in a digital format. Areas such as tables, chairs and booths will be sanitised after each guest use.
Contactless payments and ordering will be available wherever possible throughout properties.
Where possible, rooms will remain unoccupied for 24 hours between guest stays to allow for thorough cleaning and disinfection. Daily housekeeping will be available. Items such as magazines, notepads, extra pillows and blankets may have been removed but will be available upon request. All surfaces will be disinfected, paying special attention to high-touch areas.
Temperature & Wellbeing Checks
Staff members will complete a health screening prior to beginning their shift.
Amenities & Services Please be aware that some services, and amenities may differ from what is listed online or may be operating in a limited capacity due to guidelines.
Passengers must complete mandatory COVID-19 travel documents to comply with government regulations
All passengers must wear a face mask at stations and on board in line with government guidelines. Any type of mask is suitable that effectively covers your nose and mouth. If you don’t have a mask you may be refused travel. Children under the age of 11 are not required to wear a mask in France or the UK and under 12 likewise in Belgium and the Netherlands
Business lounges and onboard catering services are currently closed so you are encouraged to bring plenty of fluids. You can carry sealed bottled drinks or cans through check-in. The 100ml restrictions don’t apply
Changes have been made to seating plans to ensure plenty of space on board. To ensure every other seat is left empty, some passengers may find their coach and seat number has changed. If this is the case, you will be given a yellow slip of paper with new seat details as you go through the ticket gates at the station
Trains are thoroughly cleaned before boarding and throughout your journey, including disinfecting areas that you’re likely to come into contact with, such as door handles and tables
Onboard water tanks and soap supplies are being topped up more regularly to allow more frequent hand washing
Travel by Sea
Passengers wishing not to fly to Europe have several attractive ferry options that can be discussed with our expert staff. Although the current government advice is to not travel by cruise ship, this is being monitored regularly and we expect it will be revised in due course for 2021 departures.
Returning to the UK
It is now compulsory that everyone entering the UK has to complete an online declaration form called the Public Health Passenger Locator Form.
You cannot submit the form until 48 hours before your arrival time in the UK, so you’ll need to fill this in whilst you’re away.
When you arrive back in the UK, you’ll have to show your completed form at the border, either by printing a copy or showing it on your electronic device.
Each passenger in your party needs to complete a form, except for children under 18 years old whose details can be added to the form of an adult they’re travelling with.
You will be required to show your completed Public Health Passenger Locator Form at border control.
The value of a travel agent
It is a bit of a minefield to navigate the various regulations and updates and never has the necessity and value of a proper travel agent with experienced staff been more recognised. If you are looking to travel, appointments with us can be made by calling 020 8989 9445 or please use our contact form.