The school summer holiday break is nearly here, but the excitement of a holiday abroad is being overshadowed by a bit of travel anxiety.
With thousands of families planning to jet off for their first foreign holiday since before COVID, airports are struggling to keep up with the sudden influx of large numbers of passengers as more countries drop their COVID entry restrictions. And this problem is only going to get worse.
On top of this is an increasing rise in the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 daily, plus the pound has dropped to its lowest level for more than 18 months making everything more expensive once you arrive at your destination.
However, all is not lost! You can still enjoy your summer holiday abroad – you need to spend a little time preparing. Here’s our fit2flytest checklist to help ensure you have the best time possible:
Be prepared (for disruption)
The news in recent weeks has been full of the fact that many commercial airlines are cancelling thousands of flights every week as they try to deal with the overcapacity situation at many airports. They are supposed to do this in plenty of time to allow passengers to rebook their flight, but this is happening more frequently at the last minute.
It may be helpful to know that if the flight cancellation is the airline’s fault under European air passenger rights, they must rebook passengers on an alternative flight and reimburse them for any additional transport costs.
However, if the cancellation is beyond the airline’s control, passengers are not entitled to compensation. One example of this is the decision by Heathrow Airport to cap the number of departing passengers at 100,000 a day until September.
Be prepared for this by making sure the airline you are travelling with has your contact details, and download their app to your smartphone to ensure you are notified of any issues immediately.
Get travel insurance as soon as possible.
Additional costs incurred from the airport chaos may be the number one issue this summer, causing people to take out travel insurance. Still, the main reason you should be taking it out is the medical cover – as this is potentially a far more expensive issue. This is why you should ensure you sort your travel insurance out as soon as you book your holiday. So that your cancellation cover for illness kicks in straight away.
Check what your travel insurance covers.
Nobody reads their travel insurance documents, we know that, but it can pay too at the moment. Not all travel insurance policies contain travel disruption cover – even if yours does, it may come with an excess.
Most travel insurers will also expect you to claim from your airline for any travel disruption before you contact them for other claims such as hire car cancellation. Make sure you take screenshots, download webchats and keep receipts relating to these things to help you with any claims.
Try and travel light.
If you are going on a two-week holiday with your kids, this might be tough, but if you can fly with just hand luggage this summer, you should do it. One of the many issues airports face is problems with their baggage handling systems, meaning many cases are delayed or lost.
Make sure you have either an EHIC or GHIC card.
If you have an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card that is still in date), you can still use it within the EU to get medical treatment for free. However, this should not be treated as a replacement for travel insurance.
If you don’t have an EHIC or it has expired, you can apply for a GHIC card (Global Health Insurance Card) via the NHS website.
Ensure you get a “waiver” policy to cover your car hire.
When you sign a car hire agreement, your hire car company will probably try and sell you a costly insurance policy to cover things like the excess or windscreen cover.
Instead of doing this, you may want to get a cheaper “waiver” insurance policy from an independent insurance provider. If you do this and have an accident, you will have to cover all the costs initially, but you can claim them back afterwards.
Having said all this, it is not all doom and gloom; the vast majority of travellers this summer are expected to be able to get away more or less as they planned.
So, relax, think about how lucky you are to be able to afford a foreign break and grab our family pack of lateral flow tests to give you peace of mind that you can all fly away safely.