February 25, 2024

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Booking a holiday abroad? How to secure your trip | Travel & leisure

Quarantine and coronavirus testing requirements for people arriving in England once foreign holidays are permitted from 17 May will be based on a traffic light system, with destinations placed on green, amber and red lists. Now the green list countries have been announced, here is what do you need to know before you book a break.

How much will tests cost?

When you come back to the UK from a green list country you will need to take a pre-departure test before you travel home and a PCR test when you get back.

Some PCR tests can cost £120 each or more, which is a substantial cost for a family travelling abroad, but holiday companies, airlines and airports are starting to offer them for much less.

Tui will offer tests to its package holiday customers which can be bought from Monday 10 May. Packages will start at £20 a person for the pre-departure lateral flow test for the journey back from their holiday destination, and a PCR test on day two after their return, including delivery and return costs for the tests. Passengers travelling to amber-list destinations will pay £50 a person for the required pre-departure lateral flow test and two PCR tests upon return. Tui offers two other packages which include outbound PCR tests if they are required by the destination, costing £60 a person for green-list countries and £90 for amber list nations.

Retailer Boots has launched a PCR test kit costing £65 that is available online and in selected stores.

Ryanair is offering PCR test for £60 for UK-based customers, as a result of a link-up with testing provider Randox.

Meanwhile, airports in the UK and around the world have been setting up Covid testing centres and offering various deals – Business Traveller has a comprehensive list on its website.

Will I be covered by my travel insurance if the trip is cancelled?

The good news is that an estimated 70% to 80% of insurance policies on sale include some form of cancellation cover should you test positive for Covid before you travel. Policies that include this enhanced Covid protection are not necessarily more expensive than those that don’t, according to comparison website Forbes Advisor UK. So if you have a policy, or are buying one, check the details carefully.

Travel insurers all rewrote their policies last year to bar future cancellation claims from passengers prevented from travelling by the imposition of a government lockdown. So don’t expect a payout if that is why your trip is cancelled.

What’s the safest way to proceed if I decide to book a foreign holiday?

A package holiday could be your best bet: if the tour operator is forced to cancel because travel restrictions are still in place, you are entitled to a full refund within 14 days via the package tour regulations.

Also, if the company goes bust before you head off to the airport, you are fully protected, and claiming the money back should be relatively easy.

Last year it was those who had separately booked their own flights and accommodation who typically had the hardest time getting refunds.

Airlines are only obliged to refund a traveller if they cancel the flight. If the flight operates but you can’t be on it because restrictions remain in place, you are unlikely to be refunded – and your insurance will very likely not pay out.

If you are booking things such as accommodation or car hire, check the cancellation terms and – if you can afford it – consider paying more for a booking that offers a refund in the event you can’t travel or your plans change.

If I book a flight now, can I change it later if I need to?

Yes, but you may end up paying extra. Ryanair, for example, states on its website that it has dropped its flight change fees for all new bookings made before 30 June 2021 and will allow passengers to make up to two flight changes for travel up until 31 October 2021. But if the new flights are more expensive you will be charged the difference.

Will airlines insist that people boarding flights have been vaccinated?

Typically, no, as things stand at the moment. Ryanair, easyJet and British Airways are not planning to introduce mandatory vaccination status, but they will be required to enforce the entry requirements of the destination you are travelling to, says consumer body Which?

A few holiday firms have brought in a requirement that all customers must be fully vaccinated. For example, those going on a Saga holiday must have received their full two doses at least 14 days before travelling. P&O Cruises has some holidays on sale that require guests to be vaccinated, and others that don’t.