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Travel uncertainty and refund delays for Northern Ireland travellers

For Northern Ireland travellers, recent changes to COVID-19 travel rules are causing confusion and uncertainty.

Last week the UK Government announced the end of the 14-day quarantine rule for travel from certain countries after 10 July. However, this currently only applies to England. Travellers returning to Northern Ireland from outside the UK and the Republic of Ireland must still self-isolate for 14 days when they return home.

Furthermore, the UK Foreign Office has changed its travel advice with immediate effect for all UK travellers to now allow non-essential travel to a long list of countries, including many popular holiday destinations.

Richard Williams, Head of Transport Policy at The Consumer Council, said: “We advise Northern Ireland travellers to check carefully how the travel restrictions will affect their plans, by visiting the NIDirect COVID-19 travel advice webpage, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website and by checking the terms of their travel insurance.”

Meanwhile, The Consumer Council has helped consumers in Northern Ireland get back over a quarter of a million pounds in flight refunds during the COVID-19 pandemic, but many consumers are still waiting for their refund.

Richard said: “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been urging the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to take action to ensure that airlines provide passengers refunds in a timely manner. On 1 July, the CAA confirmed that most airlines have delayed paying refunds and we want them to enforce the law on airlines to issue refunds.”

Since 1 March 2020, The Consumer Council has received over 1,300 airline enquiries and complaints, a 538% increase on the same period last year. 94% of these were regarding refunds. To date they have managed to get airlines to refund over £250k to Northern Ireland consumers.

Richard added: “If you are having trouble getting a refund from an airline, contact us on Freephone number 0800 121 6022 or email contact@consumercouncil.org.uk. You can also find information on our dedicated webpage, www.consumercouncil.org.uk/coronavirus.”

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