Travel is finally making its comeback after a 4-month hiatus to COVID-19. Flights are starting to take off again, airports are shifting baggage on carousels and there are some great summer 2020 offers to be taken advantage of.
To make your travel preparations easy, we’ve looked at the 3 things you need to know before travelling this year. In a COVID-19 world, there are plenty of things that have changed, but how will they affect you and what do you need to be careful of?
Where Can I Travel?
For UK travellers, this is a really confusing topic so we’re here to try and clear the fog. In July, the UK government announced a list of countries that if you return from to the UK, you won’t have to quarantine for 14 days shown in the purple column below. YAY!
Hold your horses though. The UK government also have a second list of places you can’t visit unless it’s ‘essential’ travel, such as visiting a dying relative or on a life saving mission. We’ve shown you all the places you can visit with no quarantine and is on the list of places the government are happy for you to travel to.
Then we skimmed the list down to take out the random territories you would only visit if you’re in the military or more importantly will NOT allow UK citizens to enter due to the rate of infection in the UK. So out of 66 places you are allowed to travel to by the UK government, you can actually only travel to 32 at the moment.
Will My Travel Insurance Cover Me?
Well, you need to check with your insurer, however read the fine print VERY CAREFULLY as to what you’re covered for and when.
It’s fair to say, the less you pay for your policy, the less it’s going to cover. However, shop around and search for a similar comprehensive cover. You really want a policy when travelling during COVID-19 to include the following. This is not a full list and is simply generic advice when looking for travel insurance policies. Please ensure you look at the policy details before purchase.
- Cancelling your trip due to COVID-19 symptoms/admission for yourself or your travelling party
- Medical cover for COVID-19 symptoms whilst you’re travelling
- Repatriation due to COVID-19 symptoms back to the UK
- Cancellation and repatriation cover if you’re denied boarding with a positive test for COVID-19
- Additional accommodation and transport if deemed necessary
There is a grey area when it comes to local lockdowns or if there is a change in government advice on travel. How these are managed by insurers is on a company by company basis, however, if you can’t travel for one of these reasons, you need to know if your insurer would cover you. At the moment, Trailfinders is one of the only travel insurers to offer a wide range of cancellation cover for COVID-19 surprises.
If you have an annual travel insurance policy in place it’s also advisable to check if it covers you for COVID-19 related claims or if you need to cancel it and take out a new one.
Do I Have To Wear A Face Mask On The Plane?
Each airline has it’s own policy on wearing face coverings so it’s best to check prior to travel as these can change often. As it stands, here are some airline policies that shows you what to expect.
At the boarding gate, they have introduced measures to maintain social distancing in the seating areas, and dots on the floor help everyone to keep a safe distance in the queues approaching the gate. Their team will be wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE) as they welcome you on the flight. Emirates are boarding the aircraft in smaller groups from the last row to the first, and the boarding gate areas are deep cleaned once everyone is on the flight.
When you arrive onboard, all cabin crew will be in full personal protective equipment (PPE). You will need to wear your mask at all times throughout the flight, except when eating or drinking. Depending on the regulations in your destination you may also need to wear gloves or other PPE. If you’re flying into Dubai, Emirates will give you a hygiene kit on board containing a mask, gloves, hand sanitiser, and antibacterial wipes. Find Emirates full safety information here
Similar to other airlines, Qatar Airways have PPE for all their cabin crew and extra cleaning at key bottlenecks. However the one major shift for Qatar Airways is the introduction of Face Shields. These will be distributed at the airport and are to be worn when boarding and disembarking. Economy Class are required to wear them on board, except when eating or drinking.
Business Class are asked to wear them at their own discretion. A flight from London to Doha is around 6 hours so I’m not sure how many passengers will be comfortable wearing the shield for that long. It will be a strange sight as everyone disembarks wearing shields, but if you want to travel on Qatar Airways, you’ll have to be OK with it. Click here for Qatar Airways’ full safety measures.
The UK’s flagship carrier has followed suit, asking travellers to wear face masks on-board. However, it doesn’t make it very clear if they will actually provide these for you. On BA’s Welcome Back On Board page it says
“We require you to wear your face mask at all times, as a guide one mask lasts four hours so please bring enough for your journey.”
OK….so it looks like you need to bring enough masks with your for your outbound and inbound flight. London to Singapore to London = 6 masks if you were wondering.
Similar to BA, Easyjet have also mandated face masks (which you’ll need to bring your own). This is mandatory on all easyJet flights and you will not be permitted to board if you arrive at the gate without one. You may also be required to wear a mask to enter and travel through the airport terminal at your departure and arrival airport.
A limited Bistro service will be available on most flights. Brochures will not be available on board so check the easyJet mobile app or website for the most up to date menu card, or with the crew on board. All flights will now be cashless with only card payments.
So there you have a glimpse into the future of travel, for the short term at least. Remember to book your travel cover, check what your airline requires you to do on-board and also government guidelines from your home country & your destination for potential restrictions.