News Coronavirus travel questions: Your COVID-19 queries answered

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Coronavirus travel questions: Your COVID-19 queries answered

From 5 November, England goes into lockdown meaning that people may only travel abroad, or to other parts of the UK, for work, education or other legally permitted reasons.

Dreaming about your next trip but with travel questions on your mind? To help, Skyscanner’s panel of experts has answered some of the most commonly asked COVID-19 queries. It’s important you have all the information you need to make the right decisions for you.

The coronavirus questions travellers have been asking

Destination inspiration

We know that travel is especially difficult right now. But alongside the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates, we want to continue to inspire you with new travel content so that when the world opens its doors again, you’ll be ready.

When can I travel to Spain?

The land of sun, sea and sangria is Britain’s favourite holiday destination: 18.1 million of us visited in 2019. But the country is currently experiencing one of Europe’s highest rates of COVID-19 infections, with health minister Salvador Illa recently calling the situation there ‘out of control’. We regularly look at the data to try and help you work out when travel to Spain might be allowed again, whether it’s safe to go and what you need to consider if you do visit right now.

Where can I go for winter sun during COVID?

Check out our comprehensive guide to the warmest December holiday destinations, featuring top city break ideas, the coolest events and the best beaches for early winter sun. Plus, holiday planning tips, where to stay and when to book your flights to find the best deal.

Can I still book a multi-destination holiday?

It’s always best to check whether the countries you plan on visiting are exempt from the UK’s quarantine policy. If even one of the countries you plan on visiting isn’t exempt, then you and anyone you travel with will be required to self-isolate for up to 14 days upon return. Check which countries are in the UK’s travel corridors on the official government website.

How do I plan a multi-destination holiday?

There are many things to consider when planning a multi-destination holiday at the best of times. With coronavirus affecting travel plans there are even more things to consider when preparing to visit two or more countries in one trip. Luckily, our guide to planning a multi-country holiday during COVID-19 explains everything you need to consider before booking.

How can I find unique holiday ideas?

Our travel content provides inspiration for travelling during COVID-19, as well as ideas for booking ahead, such as suggestions of unexpected destinations to visit when travel restrictions ease.

Which countries are currently quarantine free?

It’s hard to keep track of all the changing travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Find out whose borders are open with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.

Air travel

Read on for everything you need to know about travelling in a post-COVID world, from how to stay safe while flying to whether baggage guidelines have changed, and what to do if you plan on cancelling your flights.

Is it safe to fly?

“Travel providers are always implementing and improving hygiene standards to keep travellers safe and instil confidence. Airlines and airports have introduced many new measures to keep travellers safe on their journey. It’s also recommended that you take plenty of personal protective equipment with you to reduce the risks associated with flying during coronavirus.”

Jon Thorne, Director of User Satisfaction at Skyscanner

How clean is the air you breathe on an airplane?

In simple terms, the air you breathe on a plane is almost certainly cleaner than the stuff you’d be breathing indoors on land. It may not be as pure as getting out to nature, but it’s better than the air you breathe in cafes, cinemas or supermarkets. This is down to the efficient air circulation systems and HEPA filters that are found on the majority of modern commercial flights.

What does HEPA stand for?

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and is a common type of filter used on planes. What they do is essentially remove any impurities in the air, no matter how small including the tiny Covid-19 microns. In fact, in NASA research, HEPA filters remove impurities of that size with a 99.97% efficiency.

When will I be able to travel long-haul again?

Long-haul travel is back to destinations around the world from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and beyond. Major airlines have resumed routes from the UK to these regions and others. If you don’t have a destination in mind you can see which countries open to travellers from the UK to get inspired. If you’re planning long-haul travel then make sure you check out our guide to buying travel insurance during coronavirus, in case plans change last minute.

Have baggage guidelines changed during coronavirus?

Baggage guidelines haven’t really changed that much since the pandemic started. The size and number of bags you’re allowed to take with you has remained the same. However, most airlines are recommending that passengers check in all their luggage to be extra safe when it comes to keeping conditions as sanitised as possible on board. If you’re unsure what the baggage restrictions are on board check out our guide to checked and carry-on luggage. Also head to the baggage section of the website for the airline you’re travelling with as this is the first place that will be updated with any changes.

What are the quarantine rules for domestic flights?

The rules are different for people travelling domestically by air. In most instances, travellers are required to monitor their health for up to 14 days after flying, but in other stricter countries, those travelling domestically must self-isolate for up to seven days. It’s best to check with your local government’s travel advice page before deciding how you’re going to travel domestically.

I’m thinking of cancelling my flight. What are my options?

This depends on the airlines’ cancellation and compensation policies, but for voluntary cancellations, there are usually fees involved (both from airlines and travel agents). As a result of the uncertainty due to the COVID-19 situation, many airlines are offering flexible rebooking options, so that can be a good way to avoid these fees if you’re flexible to move your travel to a later date. If you have flights booked that haven’t been cancelled yet, rather than paying to move them, it could be worth waiting to see if the flights are cancelled nearer the time so the change to your booking or refund doesn’t come at a cost.

How do I know if the airline I’ve booked with has cancelled my flights? 

Check the FCDO website for daily updates on specific destinations. For specific airline route information, as well as current cancellation, rebooking or refund policies, you can find all the latest news and travel updates on their websites or check with the International Air Travel Association.

The airline I’m flying with cancelled my flight. What are my options?

It depends on the airline and their policy. Some airlines offer a voucher for future travel, or the option to rebook for a later date with no fee. There are some airlines that still offer refunds, so please check with the airline or travel agent about options.

I’m struggling to get a refund. What should I do? 

In these times, call centres and online support teams are fielding significantly higher volumes of claims than usual. Some airlines have responded to these challenges by instituting COVID-specific policies that allow travellers to claim and receive refunds over a longer time period. Check your airline’s website for policy details. If you’re trying to call or use a live chat to discuss refund options, expect longer wait times than usual, and be persistent.

I booked with Skyscanner. Who should I get in touch with to cancel or make changes? 

There are two ways to buy travel through the Skyscanner site or app: buy from a partner or book with us. Skyscanner’s partners’ are the travel agencies, airlines, hotels, and car hire companies you can book with through our site and app. If you booked with a partner, you’ll need to contact them directly to cancel or make changes to your booking. If you booked your travel with Skyscanner on our site or in the app, then check your booking confirmation for details on all the ways to get help. Not sure who you bought your travel from? Check your confirmation email or your bank statement for details on who the payment was made to.

What protections are in place for holiday bookings going forward?

“Many providers have introduced flexible booking policies for future travel. When searching on Skyscanner for flights you can identify those fares covered by flexible booking policies by the ‘flexible ticket’ icon on the flight listing. You can also adjust your search to show only flexible bookings.

Travel insurance is more important than ever, so it is advised to ensure that any existing policy you have in place covers you for the travel you are looking to book.

“It’s also advisable to check any consular and repatriation agreements between your home country and the country you want to visit. In some cases, countries might not have official measures in place to ensure you can return quickly from your place of travel if there is an emergency.”

Martin Nolan, Senior Director, Legal & Public and Regulatory Affairs at Skyscanner

Can I book a last-minute holiday?

Yes. In fact, bookings for last-minute getaways are on the up. Skyscanner has created some handy search tools, like price alerts and flexible tickets, to help you book a last-minute holiday within your budget.

Can I travel within the UK?

Yes, but there are restrictions. On 14 October, the UK government introduced a three-tier lockdown system, implementing an alert system for either ‘medium’, ‘high’ and ‘very high’ risk depending on infection rates. Domestic travellers should avoid areas in tier three, where non-essential travel is advised against. Anyone in tier two is advised against travelling to tier one. If your area is in tier one, feel free to travel around other areas in tier one (much of England). And take a look at our staycation inspiration, too.

What precautions should I take when travelling?

Every country has its own guidelines, so look up local government advice in each destination that you go to. But in general, the same rules apply abroad as at home. Do your best to give people two metres of space, wear a mask whenever you use public transport or take a taxi and wash your hands (for 20 seconds) and use hand sanitiser regularly. If you need to cough or sneeze, keep your mask on and cover your face using the crook of your elbow. Then, immediately change your mask, throwing away or bagging up the soiled one to wash later.

How can Skyscanner help me book a COVID-friendly trip?

As well as our ‘Where’s open?’ interactive map, Skyscanner has created a variety of features to help you book with confidence: flexible booking policies, cleanliness and safety ratings, and filters for browsing hotels with free cancellation policies.

General knowledge

In this section we look at the best of rest. What exactly do travel corridors mean? What does the future of air travel look like, and how has COVID-19 changed people’s attitudes towards travel?

What are travel corridors?

Travel corridors, also known as ‘air bridges’ and similar to the idea of travel bubbles, allow travellers passage between two or more countries without the need to quarantine. However, anyone entering from outside of the bubble will still need to quarantine for up to 14 days.

What is a ‘workation’?

This year, some 47 per cent of full time British employees have done some work from home, and it’s becoming clear that as long as the WiFi’s good, they can feasibly work from anywhere. Enter the workation: a break that combines work with a holiday. One of 2020’s travel buzzwords, it could be a trend that’s here to stay if working from home continues to thrive.

What does the future of air travel look like?

“Expect more electronic security measures as you move through the airport, with infrared cameras, body sensors and temperature screening in place in some cases to avoid infections spreading. Consider downloading apps to ensure that you don’t have to carry paper documents (primarily check-in, security, boarding and hotel confirmation). Also, consider taking most of your foreign currency in electronic form. Multi-currency cards with e-wallets mean you can avoid international bank fees and use contactless payment over notes and coins.”

Dave Thomson, Chief of Staff Product and Design at Skyscanner

How has coronavirus changed people’s attitudes toward travel?

We conducted a traveller survey and found that two-thirds (65%) of travellers also said they “want to make better use of their time to travel” and 80% are “more likely to travel to their dream destination” once COVID-19 travel restrictions are lifted.

“We have seen a marked increase in the number of people coming to Skyscanner and searching for travel. Many airlines are now likely to add additional routes to their schedules with the aim of enticing travellers back to the skies with offers and promotions.

“Whilst overall figures remain down compared to last year, our data does show positive signs and significant interest in short-haul European travel within the next 60-90 days. Safety is of course, still paramount and we encourage people to come to Skyscanner for advice on how best to travel under these new guidelines.”

Jo McClintock, Global Brand and Marketing Director at Skyscanner

So there you have it, your coronavirus travel questions answered! There are plenty of ways to get inspired for when the world opens up again.

When can I travel again?

Flying in 2020: a step-by-step journey through airports

Future of air travel: Flying after COVID-19 lockdown

Dream destinations: The places our travellers can’t wait to visit next

Staycation UK: 11 unusual hotels for a weird and wonderful stay

10 of the best towns and villages in England to visit

This page was last updated on 23 October 2020. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication. However, given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis, the information will vary by location and change at short notice and over time. We will do our best to keep this page up-to-date, however, this cannot be guaranteed.

This page has been created for general guidance only and has not been designed for you or any specific circumstances relevant to you. It is highly recommended that you check your government’s latest travel advice before travelling or making any decisions to travel.

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