Your urgent international travel questions answered by Simon Calder

A bit-known authorized loophole, involving these lucky sufficient to have been born within the Gatwick space across the time of some complicated boundary adjustments, implies that the journey correspondent of The Impartial qualifies as a part-time non-dom. (A few of his much less charitable colleagues abbreviate that description to “part-timer”.)

Nonetheless, whereas in transit at Heathrow airport, somebody claiming to be Simon Calder – as he’s identified on his diplomatic passport – took an hour out of his busy day to reply your urgent journey questions.

Flight fears

Q: We’re as a consequence of fly to the US simply after Easter. What are our rights ought to we miss a flight? My predominant fear is with our UK flights as we’re scheduled to fly from Manchester to Heathrow, then onward to New York JFK. Taking a look at this week’s flight statistics for our BA shuttle to Heathrow, it’s been cancelled as soon as and severely delayed on most days.

Do you additionally assume that the CDC will drop their Covid testing coverage for the US after Easter?

Kim C

A: I’m continuously amazed on the quantity of people that fly from Manchester (or Glasgow, or Edinburgh) to the US by way of Heathrow. If I’m not being impertinent, I can not think about a worse place to vary planes on a transatlantic journey. You may be flying for the primary a part of the journey away from New York, and will even find yourself going overhead Manchester in your flight to JFK.

Significantly better, I believe to journey by way of Dublin – which is simply 20 miles or so longer than the direct flight, and has the additional benefit of permitting you to clear US customs and the passport earlier than stepping aboard the transatlantic flight. Once you arrive in New York you’re a home arrival and might head straight off with out the lengthy queues for immigration.

Anyway, we’re the place we’re. Have been British Airways to cancel or closely delay the flight from Manchester to Heathrow, it might be answerable for getting you to the US. BA would want to have a look at all of the attainable choices – Ideally, for you, one of many continuous flights direct to New York. These are operated by Virgin Atlantic and Aer Lingus, and are usually dearer. Which I presume is why you booked to go the great distance round.

In your second query, I worry the US well being regulator, the CDC, is in no nice hurry to drop the pre-departure Covid testing requirement. Based mostly on the ponderous historical past of opening up the US to abroad tourism, I don’t anticipate any adjustments till after the primary summer season peak.

Emotional baggage

Q: We’re at present in Australia. We flew with British Airways from the dreaded Heathrow Terminal 5 to Copenhagen earlier than travelling on to Australia with Qatar Airways. On arrival at Copenhagen we discovered that no baggage by any means had been loaded onto our flight. We accomplished the required lacking bag kinds with the tackle in Australia. BA’s monitoring system tells us baggage had been discovered and positioned on flights to reach in Australia on 6 April. The flights arrived however no signal of our baggage.

Up to now we nonetheless haven’t had any response, nonetheless haven’t any baggage and I’m fuming at how unhealthy the customer support of BA is. I’d there something you possibly can counsel we do?

Stribs22

A: Sorry to examine your expertise. Generally when baggage go astray the reuniting course of can threaten to dominate the journey. On the uncommon events when it has occurred to me, I might actually relatively not spend time on-line or on the telephone looking for the place the bag is and coordinating reunification with it.

Moderately than chasing round for them, I ask the airline to return the lacking baggage after the journey. I additionally clarify that I’ll purchase the minimal to satisfy my journey wants (holding the receipts for a later declare).

Checking in baggage all the time entails a danger, although yours evidently fell on the first hurdle and had been left behind at Heathrow.

Had you been travelling solely on British Airways, you might have averted any such issues by taking all the pieces you want as cabin baggage; the airline has a particularly beneficiant 46kg, two-piece hand baggage allowance. By benefiting from this, as I invariably do, you possibly can keep away from the chance that your possessions can be misrouted or simply left behind at Heathrow.

However I see that as you had been taking a reasonably unique routing, transferring to Qatar Airways in Copenhagen – presumably due to a good-value fare. The Qatar Airways allowance is a paltry single piece weighing 7kg. In observe many individuals take rather more than this, however not as a lot as British Airways would permit.

Anyway, I hope you probably did the wise factor – which is to imagine you’ll by no means see your checked baggage once more, and keep away from packing something that you’d be upset to not see once more.

Orbital manoeuvres

Q: I’m typically fairly educated about my rights however this one’s stumping me. I’m on an AA booked itinerary from Madrid to Miami by way of Heathrow. British Airways have cancelled the MAD-LHR flight at some point earlier than and rebooked one hour later to Gatwick. As working service, I’m guessing BA can pay for transport to LHR (as soon as claimed).

I’ll now additionally arrive at LHR over two hours after unique arrival time. Nonetheless, my arrival time in Miami won’t change as a consequence of this flight being unchanged. So, ethics of claiming apart, would I be entitled to cancellation compensation based mostly on this final minute delay? Clearly now extra problem going by way of Gatwick however that’s a separate challenge!

“Shimmydamper”

A: Goodness, as soon as once more I might by no means wish to fly on that route: Madrid and London occur to be precisely the identical distance from Miami (4,425 miles), and interposing an extra 800-mile hop seems to be extreme. I think about you additionally had a really lengthy stopover initially scheduled for London Heathrow.

British Airways could properly offer you a voucher for the Gatwick-Heathrow bus across the orbital M25 (“deliver again the helicopter hyperlink,” I hear some cry) however in any other case you will want to assert again – for the bus hyperlink, not a taxi. I worry that in case you are not late at your ultimate vacation spot, although, you can’t declare for money compensation. You received’t have been delayed (although you’ll have had a complete lot of stress).

Greenback offers

Q: My husband and I hope to fly to the US subsequent week (offering, in fact, that the flights aren’t cancelled). Might you please advocate one of the simplest ways to get US {dollars}? We’ve learn that one will get the most effective charges from ATMs over there, relatively than by ordering them from UK banks or publish workplace journey companies – is that this so?

Additionally, on return we have now the final flight of the day from Heathrow to Glasgow – if we miss the flight as a consequence of delays at Heathrow, is the airline required to place us up in a resort for the evening?

Suz D

A: Till the coronavirus pandemic I used to be all the time eager to make use of money as my prime type of spending, however now a lot has modified and lots of locations now say “playing cards solely”. Actually essentially the most helpful factor you are able to do, when you have time earlier than you go, is to use for a Halifax Readability bank card. It’s going to get you glorious, no-transaction-fee charges on plastic funds.

Anyway, to deal with your query: I can inform you the tactic I take advantage of for locating the most effective offers for overseas foreign money, however I worry you could not prefer it. I might by no means use an ATM within the US – charges, I discover, are poor, and there are normally vital costs concerned. So as an alternative I purchase within the UK. In London.

I typically begin on the southern finish of Queensway, a sort of excessive road for the Bayswater space of west London, and name in on the sequence of bureaux de change which can be on either side of the road. My query is: “How a lot, in sterling, will it value to purchase $500?” (Or, if I’m heading for Europe, euros.)

The responses fluctuate wildly, however there’s all the time one that can get you near the center price. At this time that’s $1.30 to £1, so I might be searching for $1.28 – in different phrases, paying £390. (By the way in which, the change corporations I cope with all need sterling in money, not plastic.)

In case your journey plans don’t embrace trawling for the most effective price, let me advocate Thomas Trade International at Hammersmith Underground station. E-book on-line with “click on and accumulate” and you will get near that center price.

Ought to that tour additionally not attraction, then ebook by the foreign money supplier Travelex – paying prematurely and gathering at a specified bureau de change at Heathrow.

On half two of your query, assuming you’re on a by ticket (US-Heathrow-Glasgow) then the airline will definitely pay for lodging and meals. You is also entitled to £520 in compensation, relying on the rationale for the unique delay.

Faraway goals

Q: I’m lastly hoping to go to my daughter in Melbourne in June. Whereas I’m there we hope to go to different elements of Australia and/or Bali or Fiji. There appears to be a greater of collection of flights (and cheaper) if booked in Australia. Am I in a position to ebook on an Australian web site or my daughter ebook for me over there or does this have an effect on my rights/insurance coverage? Any recommendation drastically appreciated. Additionally thanks for all of the useful articles all through Covid.

Sharon G

A: Thanks very a lot on your variety phrases. I unreservedly advocate that you simply contain a superb long-haul journey specialist akin to Trailfinders. They may have the ability to put collectively a constantly ticketed itinerary at first rate charges – particularly for those who occur to be flying out on Qantas, during which case discounted home flights can be obtainable.

Together with Bali and Fiji in your journey sounds nice – however on the way in which to and/or from Australia, not a aspect journey.

Q: I acquired caught up within the BA cancellations (technical points) within the final weekend in February. My flight again to Heathrow from Budapest was cancelled by way of textual content on the morning (Sat 26 Feb noon) I used to be as a consequence of fly again. BA supplied re-booking (on their web site) however the subsequent obtainable flights to London had been from the Tuesday (1 March) onwards.

They supplied no different assist, their telephone traces had been busy/unanswered and I used to be left caught having checked out of my lodging already so I scrambled to fend for myself. For numerous causes, I couldn’t hold round until then on the danger of BA cancelling these final minute too, so I booked myself on a Ryanair flight that night to Stansted at the price of virtually £500.

I requested a refund from BA and compensation as I perceive I’m entitled to. I acquired the refund three weeks later with no correspondence in any respect and I haven’t heard from them about my compensation. It’s been six weeks and I’ve tried calling them and the telephone stays unanswered. I did have journey insurance coverage however after I contacted them, they mentioned I ought to get as a lot as I can from BA first then put in a declare for any the rest I’m ‘out of pocket for’. I’ve misplaced all religion in listening to from BA.

Is there something I can do to hasten my compensation declare akin to search redress from a regulatory physique relating to BA’s behaviour?

Poupee

A: Sorry to listen to about your expertise. There isn’t a doubt, from the information as you clarify them, that British Airways should refund your Ryanair flight and pay you £220 in compensation on high (Budapest is maddeningly just a few kilometres wanting the 1,500km threshold at which compensation would enhance to £350). I counsel you write a Letter Earlier than Motion giving BA per week to reimburse and compensate you, and go to Cash Declare On-line after that.

Asian liaison

Q: As a consequence of fly to Singapore with British Airways in November, wish to transit by to Bangkok with Thai Airways. Present guidelines state “passengers transiting by Changi and planning to depart on a distinct airline should have each flights booked in identical reserving itinerary. Passengers should even have their checked in baggage tagged by from the origin airport to their ultimate vacation spot”.

Is it attainable to test baggage by to ultimate vacation spot with BA/Thai flights? We have already got Singapore flight booked and might’t see how we are able to transit by to Bangkok with Thai Air underneath the above guidelines.

Callat

A: You’ve gotten provide you with an uncommon strategy to attain Bangkok: flying virtually 1,000 miles past it (probably even flying overhead the Thai capital) then returning on a separate flight from Singapore. You haven’t any alternative that I can see apart from to undergo immigration into Singapore after which instantly test in to go away once more.

Spanish observe

Q: Did you say that the Spanish authorities has dropped the requirement to fill within the Well being Management kind in case you are absolutely vaccinated? All the things I’ve checked says it’s nonetheless required.

Jezzaman

A: The Spanish vacationer workplace in London says it was dropped for absolutely jabbed (and boosted) Brits. Do let me know for those who learn something totally different.

Stansted stress

Q: I’m travelling to Turkey on 22 Might from Stansted. Will the queue downside be sorted by then?

“Turkey Holidays”

A: Previously few weeks lengthy queues for safety at plenty of airports, together with Manchester, Birmingham and London Stansted, have triggered issues for passengers starting from frustration to truly lacking planes – typically with very costly penalties.

The very best variety of travellers seems to be at Manchester airport. Final Friday the chief government of Manchester Airports Group, Charlie Cornish, admitted frankly: “We don’t at present have the variety of employees we have to present the extent of service that our passengers deserve.

“For now, we’re advising passengers to reach on the airport three hours earlier than their flight leaves.”

Stansted airport is a part of the identical group, and is experiencing related issues: with passenger numbers hovering in a decent labour market, hiring folks shortly sufficient to determine a full-strength staff within the airport safety operation is hard.

There was a really apparent lag between the reappearance of robust demand for aviation – which was triggered by the ending of journey restrictions within the UK – and the availability of educated and vetted employees.

Nonetheless, I carried out a wide-ranging (if unscientific) social media survey over the weekend and was heartened to see that the majority passengers had been pleasantly shocked with the velocity at which they had been processed by safety.

Whereas I received’t but return to the times after I may intentionally get to an airport simply 45 minutes earlier than departure, the size of safety queues is, I consider, a diminishing downside. I get extra stories about delays in floor dealing with, specifically queues for bags drop-off.

In case your flight is within the first wave of exits, between 6am and 9am, I definitely commend arriving two hours forward – and half-an-hour earlier when you have baggage to test in.

Lastly, lengthy after the safety queues dwindle, I worry lengthy waits will proceed for UK Border Pressure whenever you come again from Turkey.

Manchester countdown

Q: I’m off to Dubai on Saturday 16 April from Manchester airport. My flight is round 8pm. When ought to I be there with all the pieces taking place there?

Sonia1970

A: In line with the airport boss, Charlie Cornish, three hours forward – ie 5pm. Personally, although, given that it’ll in all probability be a quiet Easter Saturday night I might bowl up simply two hours forward. Have a terrific journey.

Cancel tradition

Q: My flight to Berlin on 2 April with easyJet was cancelled. I managed to rebook it for 1 April. I claimed the compensation and was awarded. Now my return flight for 16 April from Berlin been cancelled. Sadly I can’t get any flights with easyJet so I purchased new tickets from totally different airways. Can I declare the price of the tickets and once more the compensation for this flight?

Nameless

A: Sure you possibly can.

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