In the second of our series of blogs to highlight our work ahead of the safe restart and recovery of the UK aviation industry, the UK Civil Aviation Authority's Consumer Director, Paul Smith, takes a look at what support is in place to provide extra confidence to consumers ahead of booking.
The Government will confirm by early May if international consumer travel can resume on 17 May. So what should passengers and holidaymakers look out for when booking a flight or holiday? And what will flying be like once the industry restarts?
Before you book
As always, anyone planning to book a package holiday that includes a flight should make sure it is financially protected by ATOL. ATOL offers protection to the consumer should their holiday provider cease trading. The protection also applies to refund credit notes issued by a travel company in the event of a holiday being cancelled. When booking, it is important to do your research. Even if a company's website looks official, or you saw an ad for them online, it doesn't mean your holiday is protected. Before you book, search for them on our ATOL holder database. That way, you can be sure that your package holiday is financially protected.
For further protection, we also recommend that bookings should be made with a credit card where possible - particularly for flight-only bookings that are not protected by ATOL. Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, passengers using a credit card can seek a refund from their credit card provider should anything go wrong with their travel plans. Passengers are also protected against cancelled flights across Europe by law, which should provide extra peace of mind when booking flights at this time. We also recommend taking out comprehensive travel insurance as soon as you book.
Before you fly
For the time-being, all travellers will also need to undertake some paperwork ahead of flying. Before heading abroad, check what requirements your destination has upon entry, such as the need for a negative Covid-19 test. Currently, on returning to the UK you need to fill out a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) and provide evidence of a negative Covid-19 test result taken within three days of your return. You also currently need to have booked two follow up tests after your arrival and have booked mandatory hotel quarantine if required from your departure country. Ahead of the planned 17 May restart date, the Government will publish a traffic light system, which will categorise countries based on risk alongside the restrictions required for travel. Keep an eye out for the latest travel news as further details will be released ahead of the restart.
Access to air
At the UK Civil Aviation Authority, we strongly believe that everyone should have access to air travel. Over the last ten years we have seen significant improvements for passengers with reduced mobility following millions of pounds of investment from both airlines and airports. If you are a passenger with reduced mobility or a hidden disability, it is important to contact your airline at least 48 hours before travelling. This will enable them to make arrangements to support you throughout your journey, including through the airport.
We fully understand how eager people are to start making travel plans again and we hope that the wide range of support available will help consumers to feel confident ahead of booking. But in these unprecedented times, we urge everyone to make sure their trips are as financially protected as they possibly can be. Keep an eye on our website and social media channels for further updates and advice.