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Travel news Coronavirus travel questions: Your COVID-19 queries answered

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Coronavirus travel questions: Your COVID-19 queries answered

You might be dreaming about your next trip but still have many 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

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 self-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.

How can I find unique holiday ideas?

“As restrictions start to ease, consider rethinking destinations with distancing in mind. If you are looking to read a book by the sea with the sand between your toes, consider the Portuguese Sintra coast north of Lisbon with its vast, quiet coastline instead of the crowded Algarve. For romantic French meals and stunning Gothic architecture why not skip the crowds of Paris and head to Reims? Looking for those Machu Picchu humble brags on Instagram? Instead, you could take in the breathtaking scenes of Lousios Gorge in Greece, with crumbling monasteries carved into the cliff faces.”

Jen Rankine, Global Senior Community Manger at Skyscanner

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

What are quarantine hotels?

These are hotels that are being used to keep travellers entering the country under lockdown. Check local travel advice websites before travelling to know whether you are required to stay in a quarantine hotel and for how long. In some instances, travellers must stay in a quarantine hotel for 24 hours while they wait for their health tests to come back. If negative they are allowed to move onto their intended destination. If positive they may be required to remain in the quarantine hotel for up to two weeks.

What is a staycation?

A staycation is simply a domestic holiday. It means taking a break without leaving the country. In some countries, staycations are more popular than travelling abroad. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, more people have been looking at staycations until they feel confident to travel internationally again.

When can I travel again?

After many weeks of uncertainty, there’s good news for travellers as many countries have once again reopened their borders to international tourism. This means you can travel now if you want to with the caveat that your choice of destinations is smaller than before. Visit your government’s foreign travel advice website to see which destinations are open and what restrictions might still apply.

Is it safe to fly?

“Travel providers are reacting to new consumer concerns by implementing and improving hygiene standards to instil confidence and differentiate themselves as people go through the holiday booking experience. airlines and airports have introduced a slew of 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

What are travel bubbles, travel corridors and air bridges?

Travel bubbles also called “travel corridors” or “air bridges” 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.

Where might travel corridors open in the near future?

Australia and New Zealand have held their own “travel bubble” talks. China is considering allowing Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea into its travel bubble, while Israel is considering quarantine-free travel with Greece and Cyprus.

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. If you bought a travel insurance policy before coronavirus became a known event, then, generally speaking, you’ll be covered. The relevant date varies according to the insurer, but 12th March is a good rule of thumb is that’s the date the WHO declared coronavirus as a pandemic, and it became a ‘known event’.

If you are looking for new cover, study the fine print, and again, consider speaking to a representative on the phone or by email to be sure of what you’re covered for. If you don’t have cover in place you should ensure you do before booking any future trips, also taking extra care to be sure that the policy covers you for travel to your desired destination.

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

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.

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.

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

A number of countries have imposed travel restrictions, and as a result, many airlines are suspending flights and some airports have closed, preventing scheduled flights from leaving. Check the DGCA 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 airline websites or check with the International Air Travel Association.

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? 

This depends on who you bought your travel from. 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 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.

Would you recommend booking an Autumn or Winter trip now?

Searches for flights towards the end of the year have surged as people yearning for a break overseas dream of a “bucket list” holiday. Ultimately, it is a personal choice of whether now feels like the right time to start thinking about a trip. If you do, be sure to check the policies covering your booking. Many airlines and hotels are adopting flexible booking policies to enable customers to plan a future trip. For many, having something to look forward to in the future will be positive to focus on.

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.

In recent weeks 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.”

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.

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This page was last updated on 17th July 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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