The Holiday Guru is always on hand to answer your questions.
This week his advice is directed at issues around ski holidays, Covid-testing for international travel and flight refunds.
Q. Is there anywhere you would recommend for a ski holiday this year? Or do you think I should give up on the idea given the pandemic?
Rachel Smith, via email.
Winter break: Skiing holidays are still an option, says the Holiday Guru
A. No, it’s still a possibility but you will have to keep your wits about you as travel rules are changing so rapidly.
At the moment, Sweden is on the UK travel corridor list and looks the most promising. The resort of Are has excellent downhill skiing.
Another possibility is Germany, where the top ski resort is Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the site of the 1936 Winter Olympics.
Best to book at the last minute to avoid unforeseen changes to travel restrictions. Some companies such as skisolutions.com offer flexible packages so you can organise a trip well in advance and then swap countries later if there is a problem because of the coronavirus.
Q. I am in despair over getting a refund from Virgin Atlantic for a cancelled flight from New York in April. I emailed twice, communicated via WhatsApp and was promised a refund by October 13. This has not happened. I am a Virgin Lifetime Gold card member. To say I have lost faith is an understatement. Can you help?
Judith Lumsden, Ipswich, Suffolk.
A. This sounds awful. A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson says: ‘Unfortunately, the customer’s original communications were missed. For refund requests made before August, regrettably the timeframe for processing is 120 days.’
However, it is speeding up your refund, which should now arrive within 21 days. By law, airline refunds should be processed in seven days. The Civil Aviation Authority says Virgin is ‘not processing refund requests sufficiently quickly’. Read about the Airline Refunds Review at caa.co.uk/news.
Q. We saw the Cyprus travel advice last Saturday, which said negative Covid-19 tests taken no more than 72 hours before travel are required. We are just worried the result might not come back in time. Would it be possible to fly to another country and then on to Cyprus to avoid this?
Dave Jacklin, via email.
A. No. You would still require proof of a negative Covid test because you must declare which countries you have been in for the previous 14 days, your place of residence and where your journey began. You may be fined for supplying false information and travellers found doing so will be sent back to the UK at their own expense (visitcyprus.com).
Q. Having enjoyed a holiday in Tenerife last year, my wife and I re-booked for November, paying £4,000 in advance. Tenerife is on the quarantine list at present and, as I own a restaurant, I cannot take this time off. My flights are with Jet2 and I have insurance. Any advice?
Clive and Jacqui Robinson, Bangor, Co Down.
The Guru advises a reader to try to postpone their holiday to Tenerife to next year
A. If your policy was taken out before the pandemic, there is a chance you will be covered — but sadly you are likely to be stuck. Even though the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising against non-essential travel to Spain, the flights are still going ahead, so not going would be regarded by insurers as a ‘disinclination to travel’ and you would lose your cash.
This is why the protection provided by package holidays is so vital. It would be best to contact the hotel and Jet2 to request to change the dates to next year.
Q. We are a family of six due to travel to Cyprus at midday on October 24. We have Covid-19 tests booked on October 21 in half-hour appointments from 1pm. Will this still be within the 72-hour requirement?
Mrs T. McGee, via email.
A. This should be fine. The time used is from the departure of your flight, not your arrival in Cyprus. Upload your test certificates 24 hours before flying on the Cyprus Flight Pass section of visitcyprus.com. Some random checks are being made on visitors on their arrival.
Q. We were interested to hear that the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) was refunding a reader after Cruise & Maritime Voyages went into administration. We submitted our claim in July — is everyone to be paid soon?
Marilyn Stott, via email.
A. It is frustrating, but Abta says that because there are 20,000 Cruise & Maritime Voyages claims, they ‘will take a while’. A spokesperson said it is important to provide all documentation as requested because not doing so may cause delays.
WE’RE HERE TO HELP
If you need advice, the Holiday Guru is here to answer your questions. Email them to [email protected] — and include your contact details and reference/booking numbers if referring to specific holidays. Unfortunately, we are unable to reply to every enquiry.