Transport

matthew
29th May 2020

Coronavirus: Advice for Northern Ireland Travellers

Advice for Northern Ireland travellers whose holidays and travel plans may be affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus), including the latest information on airlines, ferries, package holidays, travel insurance, public transport and cancelled travel plans (including refunds).

The information on this page was last updated on 29 May 2020.

Entering or returning to the UK

From 8 June, there will be new rules in place for entering the UK because of coronavirus (COVID-19). The rules are for residents and visitors.

Further details

More details are available on the GOV.UK website here.

1. Provide your journey and contact details when you travel to the UK

You’ll need to fill in an online form to provide your journey and contact details before you travel.

You might need to show that you’ve completed the form when you arrive at the UK border.

If you refuse to fill in the form, you may be fined. You also may not be allowed to enter the UK (unless you’re either British or a UK resident).

The government will use this information to contact you if you or someone you’ve travelled with develops coronavirus symptoms, and to check that you’re self-isolating for the first 14 days after you arrive in the UK.

Further details

More details are available here.

For a list of exemptions from data collection, click here.

2. Self-isolate for your first 14 days in the UK

When you arrive in the UK, go straight to the place where you will self-isolate. Your friends or family can collect you from the airport, port or station. Only use public transport if you have no other option. If you do use public transport, wear something that covers your nose and mouth and stay 2 metres apart from other people.

You must not leave the place you’re staying for 14 days.

There are some special exceptions to this rule, which are available here.

After 14 days

If you do not have any coronavirus symptoms after 14 days, you can stop self-isolating. You will then need to follow the same rules as people who live in the UK. 

Further details

For a list of exemptions from self isolation, click here.

3. Who does not need to provide their details or self-isolate for 14 days

You will not need to fill in the form or self-isolate for 14 days if you’re travelling to the UK from:

  • Ireland
  • the Channel Islands
  • the Isle of Man

More details are available here.

A complete list of exemptions is available here.

Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advises against all non-essential travel worldwide. Note: This does not apply to travel from Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland

The FCO advises that consumers check the travel advice page for the country that they are travelling to by clicking here.

The FCO also maintains an overall travel advice page, which can be accessed by clicking here.

Further travel advice

Travellers prohibited from entry to the United States (Source: CDC.GOV)

Foreign nationals who have visited one of these countries in the past 14 days may not enter the United States:

  • China
  • Iran
  • European Schengen area (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City)
  • United Kingdom
  • Republic of Ireland

MoneySavingExpert's coronavirus travel advice

Click here for MoneySavingExpert's useful resource.

Check with your travel or accommodation companies immediately

If you're concerned about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on your existing travel plans, then check with your airline, tour operator, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers immediately.

Airlines and travel companies are dealing with a huge number of inquiries at the moment and if you do not have to travel in the next few days you are advised to put off contacting them immediately.

Airline updates

This webpage is updated daily but please note that services are changing at short notice and you should check directly with your airline to ensure you have the very latest information.

If your flight has been cancelled your airline should offer you the choice between an alternative flight or a full refund.

Some airlines and travel providers are offering vouchers in place of refunds. If your flight has been cancelled, you are entitled to a refund, so if you would rather the financial payment, please request this from your travel provider.

If you believe you are entitled to receive a refund from your airline but they are refusing, you may wish to open a complaint with the airline. If you are not happy with the airline’s response contact The Consumer Council.

Aer Lingus

Aer Lingus is operating a reduced schedule to a number of European and North American destinations.

If you are scheduled to fly between now and 31 July and you can change the date of your flight. Aer Lingus has waived its change fee but a fare difference may apply. Changes should be made before 30 June. Alternatively, you may be able to apply for a voucher.

Aer Lingus has asked that consumers only contact their support teams directly if you're due to fly in the next 72 hours

From 18 May 2020 all customers flying with Aer Lingus will be requested to use a mask or suitable face covering from the point of boarding the aircraft until they are inside the destination airport. This will be a mandatory requirement from 21 May 2020 until 31 August 2020. 

More information is available here.

British Airways

Flights from Belfast City to London Heathrow are temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. Source: Belfast Telegraph

British Airways is offering passengers the following options:

  • If you are due to travel between now and 31 July 2020 and you want to cancel your booking you can claim a voucher to the value of your booking, valid for travel until 30 April 2022.
  • Passengers with bookings made from 3 March until 31 May 2020, with a departure date up to 31 December 2020 can change the date of their flight. British Airways have waived the change fee but the fare difference will apply.
  • Alternatively, if you want to change the destination and dates of bookings made from 3 March until 31 May 2020, with a departure date up to 31 December 2020, British Airways will cancel your booking on your behalf and email you a voucher to the value of your booking, valid until 30 April 2022. Vouchers can be used as payment, or part payment, for a future booking. Your new trip booked using a voucher must be fully completed by 30 April 2022 (departure and return). You will receive your voucher by email within seven days of your application.

For further information on your options click here British Airways

If your flight has been cancelled you can rebook or apply for a voucher online. If you do not wish to rebook or claim a voucher contact British Airways by telephone to discuss your refund options.

Contact centre opening hours are 08:00-20:00 Monday to Friday and 09:00-17:00 Saturday and Sunday.

EasyJet

From 15 June 2020 EasyJet will resume flights from Belfast International Airport  to Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gatwick, Liverpool, Newcastle and a small number of flights to Faro.

From 13 March 2020, customers can change their flight online without paying a flight change fee. However, fare differences may apply. Source: EasyJet

If your flight has been cancelled you can transfer onto any flight on the Easyjet network up until April 2021. You won’t be charged a change fee or fare difference. Alternatively, you can choose a flight voucher for the full value of your ticket. Your voucher will be valid for 12 months, so you can redeem it for flights through to the end of Summer 2021. If you would prefer a refund you can complete an online form to request this.

Please note a £5 administration charge will be applied per person, per flight to make changes to flights through EasyJet’s Contact Centre. Changes can be made online. If you require special assistance when booking this fee will be waived.

COVID-19 help hub

Click here for EasyJet's FAQ page.

EasyJet Holidays

The latest information from EasyJet Holidays in relation to COVID-19 are available by clicking here.

Jet2

Jet2 will be recommencing their holiday and flights programme on 1 July 2020. All flights and holidays before this date will not be operating.

Jet2 will be contacting all affected customers to discuss their options, one of which is rebooking to a later date. Jet2 is actively contacting customers and dealing with all existing queries in departure date order.

Note: Jet2 has stated it will contact all affected customers. There is no need for you to contact the company. If you do call through then expect longer than normal call wait times due to the increased number of callers.

Further advice and FAQs are available on Jet2's website here.

Ryanair

Ryanair is currently operating a limited schedule. From 1 July, it plans to operate 40% of its normal flight schedule.

Ryanair has waived its flight change fee if you want to change your flight up to the end of June 2020. Fare changes will apply.

If your flight was cancelled, Ryanair is issuing vouchers by email to the email address provided in your booking. You can request a cash refund. However, Ryanair is currently stating that requests for refunds will be placed in a queue until the COVID-19 emergency has passed.

On 20 April Ryanair started telling its customers that they will have to wait until “the COVID-19 emergency has passed” if they want a refund for a cancelled flight.

For further information click here.

Other airlines

Eastern Airways

Eastern Airways will suspend the majority of its scheduled network for the short term until 8 June 2020. This includes flights from Aberdeen (except Humberside service), Anglesey, Belfast City, Cardiff, Dublin, Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton, Teesside International, Wick.

If your travel plans have been affected by the temporary suspension of the scheduled flying programme, customers can place their Eastern Airways booking reference on hold for travel to be completed within 1 year of the original travel date subject to original fare class availability and ticket conditions. If this is not suitable, the airline can process a refund back to the card used to make payment and this will take approximately 28 working days when we it has responded to you.

Email [email protected] with your booking reference as the subject field.

Please note: All customer enquiries are via email only.

Source: Eastern Airways website.

KLM

Due to the corona crisis, KLM will start the summer schedule with a significantly reduced network.

If you booked travel before 21 April 2020 with a scheduled departure date before 31 August you can use the self-service options to change their flights (if your travel date is later than 1 December 2020, you have to pay the fare difference) or request a travel voucher. Customers can do so until 30 June 2021. If you booked a flight on or after 22 April you can find out more about your options here.

Please do not go to the departure airport if your flight is not confirmed to depart.

For the latest information click here.

Loganair

Scottish airline Loganair has temporarily suspended some domestic routes due to the impact of the coronavirus. It is continuing to operate a number essential routes to remote communities for essential travel.

If you have not received an email, your flight is currently scheduled as planned.

Due to the unexpected reduction in opening hours of Southend Airport the City of Londonderry to Southend Airport service will be operating into and out of London Stansted Airport from 8 April until 31 May and a reduced number of flights will be operating.

Passengers with a booking prior to the 31 May 2020 can change their flight to an alternative date (prior to 31 December) or put their booking on hold without being charged a change fee. Fare differences may apply. 

Loganair flights from City of Derry airport to Glasgow have been suspended until 31 May 2020 and the summer Manchester service is on hold until June 2020. (Source: City of Derry Airport)

For the latest information click here.

Contact:

Loganair's call centre hours have been reduced. Monday to Friday 9am - 3pm and Saturday and Sunday CLOSED.

Social media will not be checked as regularly as normal. It is advised that customers do not use Facebook or Twitter when looking for travel or booking assistance.

For urgent enquiries, please contact: [email protected]. For complaints, please contact: [email protected]

TUI

TUI has closed all of their retail stores.

TUI holidays up to and including 30 June 2020 will no longer be going ahead.

TUI is stating that if your holiday can no longer go ahead as planned, you will receive a refund credit for the full value of your holiday. TUI will also give you a separate booking incentive up to 20% if your original booking was for a package holiday. If do not want to accept a refund credit you can apply for a refund; however, TUI will only process a refund for you once you have received your refund credit. Once you have received you will need to contact TUI by telephone on 0203 451 2868 between 9am and 7pm from Monday to Friday to request a refund.

For more information, click here.

Virgin Atlantic (Source: Virgin)

Virgin Atlantic is operating a reduced flight schedule.

If you are due to travel Virgin Atlantic are offering the following options:

  • Rebook your travel up to 31 May 2022 
  • Reroute your travel to, from or via another destination

It won't charge a change fee, but new flights are subject to availability and any difference in the fare. If you rebook to finish travel by 30 November 2020, no difference in fare or change fee will be charged. Flights can only be rebooked up to 331 days in advance, so if you’re looking to fly after that, please wait until flights become available.

Alternatively, if you are unsure of your new travel dates you have the option to leave your ticket open. You must rebook and travel by 31 May 2022. There's no charge to do this but your new flights will be subject to availability and any potential fare difference. For bookings made directly with Virgin Atlantic only.

Virgin Atlantic states that if your flight has been cancelled your ticket will automatically be left open as credit for you to use any time up to 31 May 2022. There's no change fee, and if you choose to travel on the same route up to 30th November 2020, we’ll also waive any differences in the fare. If an alternative flight or rebooking does not suit you contact the airline to discuss your options. For more information click here.

Wizzair (Source: Travel Weekly)

Due to a decrease in demand across the network and various government restrictions on entry, a number of Wizz Air flights are subject to cancellations. 

Wizz Air's network will be performing medical screening of passengers, therefore it is possible you may be subjected to such a check upon arrival at your destination airport. More information is available here.

If your flight has been cancelled Wizz Air advises that you will be offered the following options:

  • Re-book for another flight operated by Wizz Air on the same or – if necessary – a comparable route, at the earliest opportunity, subject to availability of seats if there is no lockdown of the airport or air travel in the given country or;
  • Credit the full value of the payment for the cancelled flight plus 20% of the fare paid for the cancelled flight, including, if applicable, the return sector on the passenger’s WIZZ Account. This credit can be used towards any Wizz Air flight/services in the future or;
  • Opt for a cash refund, however please note that this will take longer to complete due to the high number of inquiries we are dealing with. Customers will be informed about the necessary steps for a bank transfer or transfer to credit card in a separate e-mail. In this case, customers will be eligible for 100% of the original fare.

Additional information is available here.

Airport updates (Northern Ireland)

Please contact the airport directly to ensure you have the latest information.

Belfast City Airport

Belfast City Airport remains open to facilitate essential travel, and has introduced passenger and staff wellbeing procedures throughout the airport.

Belfast City Airport recommends that consumers check directly with their airline or travel agent for questions about their travel plans.

If you have made a car parking booking directly with the airport and your travel plans have changed you can cancel or amend your car park booking online, free of charge, up to four hours before you were due to travel.

Travel advice and information on COVID-19 can be found here.

Belfast International Airport

Belfast International Airport remains open and appropriately staffed 24/7 throughout the present COVID-19 crisis.  Albeit, due to the necessity of social distancing, passenger flights are effectively limited to round-the-clock medical emergency flights.

Further information is available here.

If you have made a car parking booking directly with the airport and your travel plans have changed you can cancel at any time up to 24 hours before the start on the booking period.

City of Derry

Due to the current situation surrounding the global COVID-19 pandemic, flight schedules will not be operating as normal during this period. Details are below. Source: City of Derry Airport

  • London Southend: Loganair has suspended the service to 31 May 2020.
  • London Stansted: Flights are currently available with Loganair until 31 May 2020.
  • Manchester: Loganair’s 2020 summer schedule is on hold until June 2020.
  • Glasgow: Loganair has suspended the service until 31 May 2020.
  • Edinburgh: Ryanair has suspended the service until 30 June 2020.
  • Liverpool: Ryanair has suspended the service until 30 June 2020.

The City of Derry Airport is offering free airport parking to all NHS staff for a year, effective from Tuesday 21st April 2020 until the end of April 2021. For more information click here.

The airport has introduced new health and safety measures, for more information click here.

If the airline cancels my flight

If flights are cancelled or there are long delays the airline must provide information on your rights and care and assistance including overnight accommodation if required. 

You must also be offered the opportunity to rebook or get a refund. These are your rights under EU Regulation 261 and apply even if you are stranded in another country.

However, in the current unprecedented circumstances airlines are struggling to fulfil this responsibility. The European Union has acknowledged this and has stated that there may be considerable delay in both arranging flights and providing concrete information to travellers.

Consumers are advised to be alert to all contact (emails/text/telephone calls etc) from their airline and to contact the airline if they have not heard anything.

If you do not hear from the airline or cannot contact them, and you cannot wait you may need to make your own arrangements for accommodation and flights, if you can. You should keep the details of what you have arranged and the costs so you can try to recover them later.  

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is providing useful information for travellers who have had their plans effected. You can view this information by clicking here.

In normal circumstances, you would also be entitled to compensation if your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before the flight was due to go. However, this is not payable when the cancellation or delay is due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

The CAA is the UK Aviation Regulator that enforces the EU Regulations on passenger rights. Due to the unprecedented circumstances of the coronavirus, the CAA has provided guidance for airlines on when in its view compensation under the EU Regulation applies will or will not be payable. Click here to read the guidance.

For more information on your passenger rights read our 'Plane Facts' guide here.

If you want to cancel your flight

Even with the current UK FCO advice against all non-essential international travel and the current Northern Ireland Government restrictions on non–essential movement, you are not automatically entitled to a refund from your airline if you want to cancel your booking, as you are if the airline cancels your flight.

Many airlines have made arrangements to waive the usual fees if you want to rebook at a later date or they may be offering vouchers for use at a later date. You should consider if an alternative booking or a voucher suits you.     

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued guidance on the 30 April 2020, to help consumers understand their rights and to help businesses treat their customers fairly. This states that a consumer can expect a refund where a consumer cancels, or is prevented from receiving any services, because Government public health measures mean they are not allowed to use the services. The CMA has confirmed that this would apply in the case of flights.

More information is available here.

If you wish to cancel your flight you can use the CMA advice to request a refund from the airline. However, the CMA states this is its view on the law, but only the courts can decide what the law is and the CMA’s views are not a substitute for independent legal advice.

If you choose not to travel and the ticket is non-refundable, you can claim back the Air Passenger Duty (APD) that was part of the cost of the ticket you purchased. APD is essentially a government tax for flying. Unfortunately, airlines often charge an administration fee to do so, and as the majority of flights from Northern Ireland attract the short haul lower rate of APD (£13), this is often more than the amount of the APD you will get back. However, in the case of long haul flights from the UK, the rate of APD is much higher (£78), and therefore it is worthwhile claiming it back. You should contact your airline to do this.

Complaints about flights

The Consumer Council can help you with complaints about flights to and from Northern Ireland airports. If you are not happy with an airline’s response contact us here.

For complaints about flights from other UK airports you can escalate your complaint to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) body if your airline has signed up to one. If your airline does not belong to an ADR body you can refer your complaint to the Civil Aviation Authority. To find out if your airline belongs to an ADR or for further information click here.

For flights from the Republic of Ireland you can escalate a complaint to the Commission for Aviation Regulation if you are not satisfied with an airline’s response or you have not received a response within six weeks of making a complaint. Complaints can be escalated at www.flightrights.ie  

If your flight started in another EU country you need to contact the enforcement body for that country. For the contact details of national enforcement bodies click here.

Travel insurance

On 17 March 2020, the FCO advised against all but essential travel to any country for an initial 30-day period. If you’re booked to travel anywhere during this time, your flights may be cancelled and your airline may refund you. If this doesn’t happen, FCO advice is often the trigger for insurance cancellation cover, so you’ll be able to make a claim if you have that.

Further Government imposed restrictions on travel, social distancing etc may also trigger insurance cancellation cover within the UK or abroad and your travel insurance policy may also cover non-refundable cancellation costs in specific circumstances.

However, travel insurance is not designed to cover ‘disinclination to travel’ where there is no specific Government restrictions or if the FCO advice against all but essential is removed.  

Many travel insurance providers have stopped selling travel insurance because of the Covid 19 pandemic or have changed the terms of cover for new or existing customers. To be sure what is covered you should check with your individual insurance provider.

Further information is available on the Association of British Insurers' website.

Which? has also produced useful information on the latest position with travel insurance that is available here.

If my cruise, package holiday or holiday accommodation is cancelled

Your rights are protected under the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs). More information can be found here.

Under the PTRs, if any element of your package holiday or cruise package is cancelled or significantly changed, then you have the right to request a full refund of any payments made towards your holiday. Your travel company may offer you vouchers to be redeemed against a future booking, however you are entitled to request a full cash refund if you do not wish to accept vouchers.

More detailed information from ABTA on the current position with customers seeking refunds and with forward bookings is available on its website here.  

Advice from ABTA and the recommended steps you should take

If your trip has been cancelled because of the change in FCO advice:

  • Talk in the first instance to your travel provider to discuss options.

If possible, postpone your holiday or travel arrangements, don’t cancel:

  • This will mean you have a holiday to look forward to in the future, and it will help your travel provider maintain its cash flow through the short-term challenges.

If you are not able to postpone:

  • Your travel provider may offer you a Refund Credit Note instead of an immediate cash refund. This Refund Credit Note can be used to book another holiday at a later date and, in the meantime, it is protected by ABTA/ ATOL if your original booking had that protection, so you would be reimbursed if the travel company failed financially.

Further details on Refund Credit Notes are below:

  • This protection will last until 31 July 2020 at the latest at which point, if you have not used the Refund Credit Note to book another holiday, you will be entitled to a cash refund.
  • The value of the Refund Credit Note must be equal in value to the monies you have actually paid for the protected travel arrangements.
  • The Refund Credit Note must not include any other amount offered as a rebooking incentive or other offer.
  • Any such offers must be documented separately and are not covered by any scheme of financial protection.
  • The Refund Credit Note must expressly identify the original booking reference and attach a copy of the cancelled Booking Confirmation / Cancellation Invoice and, where appropriate, ATOL Certificate.

If your travel provider has said they will offer a cash refund:

  • Please be patient with them as they process this as they are likely to be dealing with an exceptionally high volume of enquiries.

If you have a travel booking for later in the year:

  • Please be patient. The situation is changing rapidly, and travel restrictions are currently only in place until mid-April. You may incur cancellation charges or lose your deposit if you make a hasty decision.

If I want to cancel my cruise, package holiday or holiday accommodation

Whether you can recover your money and how depends on whether your trip is a package holiday or you booked separately flights and accommodation that combine to make up your holiday.

On the 18 March 2020 the European Commission issued the following advice

In the case of a package holiday, the EU Directive on Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements  (the Package Travel Regulations), the traveller can cancel the trip without penalty if there are “unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances occurring at the place of destination or its immediate vicinity and significantly affecting the performance of the package, or which significantly affect the carriage of passengers to the destination” (Article 12(2) of the Package Travel Directive).

It goes onto say that ‘Unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances’ means a situation beyond the control of the party who invokes such a situation and the consequences of which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. Significant risks to human health, such as the outbreak of a serious disease like the COVID-19 at the travel destination or its immediate vicinity usually qualify as such unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances.

The assessment whether those circumstances significantly affect the performance of the package must be made on a case-by-case basis.  An official travel warning of national authorities is an important indicator that the package travel contract can be cancelled due to unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances impacting the performance of the trip. This also applies where public authorities prohibit certain travels or ban the movement of persons in a manner that excludes, de facto, the package travel contract to be performed.

Example 1

If you have booked a city trip in form of a package to a city to which access is restricted or where public life is subject to significant limitations (e.g. closure of tourist attractions or museums), this should give you the right to cancel your trip.

Example 2

If you or an accompanying family member have a medical condition for which exposure to the COVID-19 is particularly dangerous, you should have the right to cancel your package travel contract if the risk of contamination with COVID-19 at the travel destination or its immediate vicinity is declared high by the competent authorities when such increased risk significantly affects the performance of the package for the traveller(s). Such case may also be covered by your travel insurance.

Hence, it would have to be assessed whether travellers can reasonably be expected to travel to the destination(s) in light of the risk to their health and life. A subjective feeling of fear would not be sufficient. 

If you are not covered by the Package Travel Regulations

You are not automatically entitled to a refund from your travel operator if you want to cancel your booking even with the current FCO advice against all non-essential international travel and the government restrictions on movement within the UK.

You need to check the cancellation Terms and Conditions of your booking as some consumers will have opted for free cancellation or partial refund.

You may be reliant on your travel operator’s goodwill if you want to arrange an alternative holiday or rebook at a later date, but many travel operators have made arrangements to waive the usual fees if you want to rebook at a later date or they may be offering vouchers for use at a later date. You should contact the travel operator and see what they can do for you.

In Northern Ireland the body that enforces the Package Travel Regulations is the Northern Ireland Trading Standards Service. If you wish to make a complaint about holidays you should contact them at Consumerline on  0300 123 6262 or email: [email protected]

If you have booked car hire

Hertz has waived one-way rental fees, cancellation fees and change fees for pre-paid reservations in travel restricted areas. Additionally, all prepaid reservations booked prior to March 13 can now be extended toward reservations used within 24 months with no fees. Click here for more details. For reservations made with Gold Plus Rewards points prior to March 13, they will waive change or cancellation point loss.

Cancelling travel plans in the UK

Which? has provided information if you wish to cancel rail, coach or ferry journeys within the UK, which you can access by clicking here.

Translink bus and rail services in Northern Ireland

Disruption to timetables

From Monday 30 March 2020, in line with reduced service timetables, the Translink Contact Centre opening hours have been revised & will open 08:00 - 17:00 Mon - Sun. Customers are encouraged to contact Translink via social media.

Until the end of May 2020 the 600 service to/from Belfast City Airport will not operate after 1pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. There will be no service on Tuesday and Saturday.

Full details of the new timetables are available on Translink’s Journey Planner and website.

Changes to paying for tickets

From Monday 30 March 2020, Translink is taking further steps to protect customers and staff through the reduction of cash handling when buying tickets on board all bus and train services.

Passengers must tender the correct fare if using cash to buy their ticket from the driver on the bus or conductor on the train. There will be no facility to provide change to the passenger. However, passengers buying tickets at bus and train stations will still be able to receive change.

Refunds for tickets

Translink’s normal refund policy applies for most bus and rail tickets but specific arrangements are in place for refunds during the Covid-19 emergency for mLink, aLink, Cross Border and Enterprise services and NIR weekly and monthly tickets. For further information see Translink’s website.

Free travel for NHS workers

Infrastructure Minister, Nichola Mallon, has announced free travel for NHS workers on public transport services in Northern Ireland from Friday 27 March, while the fight against COVID-19 continues. If you already have a ticket you may be able to apply for a refund. For further information see Translink’s website.

Accessible Travel NI

Imtac runs a website called Accessible Travel NI, which lists information about accessible travel and transport in Northern Ireland. During the current COVID-19 crisis, the site also provides updates about changes to transport and travel.

Click here to visit the website.

Community transport in Northern Ireland

From Wednesday 25 March 2020, community transport operators in Northern Ireland have been asked to suspend all Disability Action Transport Services and to significantly restrict Dial-a-Lift services to essential journeys only.

From 1 April some Community Transport providers are offering new Collection & Deliver and Transport services to both members and non-members during this time. For more information see our website here.

Further information is available here.

Coach Travel to and from Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland-based bus firm Hannon Coach has suspended its Belfast to Glasgow express service for six weeks, as of 23 March 2020. 

Ferries

Please check directly with your ferry operator to ensure you have the latest information.

P&O Ferries

P&O ferries are operating an ‘optimized schedule’ with some changes to sailings. Bookings can be changed without an amendment fee and if the government restrict travel to one of its destinations it will issue a credit for future travel or refund.

Currently, there may be some disruption to sailings between Dublin and Liverpool, passengers should contact P&O ferries for the most up to date information. 

More information can be found here.

StenaLine Ferries

StenaLine ferries are reporting that freight and passenger sailings are still operational but capacity has been reduced. Its Belfast to Liverpool has reduced from six daily crossings to four and the Belfast to Cairnryan route is down from 12 daily crossings to ten.

StenaLine has waived any amendment fees for those travel customers who wish to rebook their trip. This applies to all of its routes and applies to all amendments (rebookings) made up to 31st May 2020 (inclusive).

If you have booked with StenaLine and are uncertain if you want to travel now, until 30th April 2020 (inclusive) it will also offer you the option to change your ticket to an open ticket. Your original ticket will be cancelled, but the ticket value will remain unchanged and can be extended to a new departure date in 2020 or 2021. The new trip must be booked no later than 30th November 2020.

More information can be found here.

Rathlin Island Ferries Ltd (RIFL)

From midnight Monday 23 March 2020 only essential travel will be permitted to and from Rathlin Island. Essential travel from Ballycastle will be deemed as one of the following:

  • Island Nurse
  • Emergency service to attend an island emergency
  • Emergency repairs to water, electricity or gas

Essential travel from Rathlin would be medical evacuations and essential hospital appointments which must be confirmed by a medical professional.

RIFL will continue to facilitate deliveries to or from the Island to ensure the lifeline is maintained. It will manage the deliveries internally to ensure nothing is missed.

The ferry terminal will be closed completely to the public and phones will be manned daily from 11am to 1pm by calling the usual RIFL number 02820769299 or email [email protected].

Carlingford Ferry

The service has been suspended.

Lough Foyle Ferry (Greencastle)

The service has been suspended.

Steam Packet Company (Isle of Man)

  • The Isle of Man Government has confirmed that passenger arrivals to the Isle of Man by air or sea have stopped from 27 March 2020.
  • All passengers booked on fast craft sailings to or from Liverpool until 16 April 2020 will be given the option to transfer to the nearest available Ben-my-Chree service to or from Heysham or receive a full refund, including those booked on non-refundable special offers.
  • Fees for amending bookings are waived until 30 April 2020.
  • Any passenger arriving on the Isle of Man as of 28 March 2020 must hold authorisation issued by the Chief Secretary to confirm that the passenger is a person who is required to perform specific essential work on the Isle of Man.

 

Strangford Lough Ferry

Changes to timetables

Due to the ongoing impact of coronavirus, from Monday 6 April 2020 Strangford Lough ferry will operate a reduced service until further notice. Further information is available here.

Buying tickets

Cash collection has been suspended on the Strangford Lough Ferry Service.

Strangford ferry ticket office is closed until further notice. Ticket agents in Strangford and Portaferry remain open for buying a smartcard and top-ups. All cash collection onboard is suspended until further notice. All passengers are asked to use a ferry smartcard or credit/ debit card to make payment on board for journeys. This will help with social distancing, as both can be read through vehicle windows.

Taxis

Please check directly with the taxi companies to ensure you have the latest information.

Fonacab

Fonacab has advised that it is running a normal service although customers may see a slight difference in pick up times as they do not have as many drivers working as usual.

Customers may notice the driver taking a few more precautions as to cleanliness but other than that their journey will proceed as normal. They have issued drivers with information on what they need to do.

Fonacab also provided guidance for customers on what they need to do to have a safe taxi cab journey, which you can view here.  

West Belfast Black Taxis

West Belfast Black Taxis have temporarily suspended their services as of 25 March 2020 at 7pm. Source: Belfast Live

Value Cabs

Value Cabs is running a reduced taxi service but is still operating 24/7. Value Cabs is operating with a reduced number of drivers, therefore pick up times may be increased.

Drivers are taking more precautions with extra cleaning cleaning of surfaces and door handles. Other than that, journeys should be no different. All drivers have been issued guidance from the company.

Note: Anyone booking a taxi for more than 2 people for one journey must book another vehicle (only 2 passengers per taxi).

Value Cabs also issued customers advice on what they can do to enjoy a safe taxi journey. It can be viewed here

Travel organisation contact details

Click on the relevant travel company below to view a contact phone number and website.

British Airways

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

Customer service: 0300 303 2800

Website: https://www.caa.co.uk/Our-work/Newsroom/COVID-19/

EasyJet

Customer service: 0330 365 5000

Website: https://www.easyjet.com/en/help/contact

Hannon Coaches

Customer service: +44 (0)28 92 650700

Website: https://hannoncoach.com/contact-us/

Ryanair

Customer service: 0330 1007 838

Website: https://www.ryanair.com/gb/en/useful-info/help-centre

P&O Ferries

Customer service: +44 (0) 1304 44 88 88

Website: http://www.poferries.com/en/contact

StenaLine

Website: https://www.stenaline.com/about-us/contact/

Telephone: 

  • General Reservations & Enquiries 03447 707 070
  • Ferrycheck 08705 755 755
  • Freight - Commercial Vehicles over 6.0m 08450 704 000 / 08708 503 535

Caravans

Essential travel does not include visits to second homes, camp sites, caravan parks or similar. You must stay in your main home.

Caravan Park Pitch Fees

Caravan parks are closed due to government restrictions. Because of this, you will not be able to fully use the services you are paying for in your contract, and the terms of your written agreement with the park owner cannot be fully fulfilled.

Site owners are unable to fully provide normal services through no fault of their own, so you should try to negotiate with the site owner a reasonable pitch fee payment settlement for the affected period of time.

If you are experiencing current financial issues you may also ask about the following:

  • are there any payment options to help you?
  • can you switch to a monthly payment?
  • could you pay half now, half later?

Claiming a refund on pitch fees

If you have already paid pitch fees for the season, you may be able to claim a refund or partial refund for the time the caravan park is closed.

Because the park is closed due to government restrictions, you would have to argue that the park was in breach of the contractual agreement by failing to perform its obligations. However, it also needs to be considered that your part of the contract requires the payment of pitch fees and by not paying you could potentially be in breach of contract.

As the park is closed due to extraordinary circumstances, the fault does not lie with either you or the park owner. Therefore, if you decide to ask the park owner for a refund of pitch fees it is unclear whether you would be successful.

You should consider that in the current circumstances the site owner is still, at the very least, providing safe storage of your caravan.

If, as well as seeking a refund of pitch fees, you were to give notice to the park owner to terminate your agreement, this would mean that you would lose your entitlement to keep your caravan on the park. Steps could then be taken by the park owner to remove your caravan from the site. 

For more information on selling your caravan and removal from the park, click here to see guidance from NI Direct's website. 

Caravan park closures

Caravan park owners can close sites and you must leave the park and can’t use your holiday caravan.

However, where people live permanently in caravan parks or are staying in caravan parks as interim homes where their main home is not available, they may continue to do so. 

Therefore, if you are occupying a holiday caravan and believe that you have a genuine reason, that falls within the UK Government exemptions, as to why you are unable to return to your main residence, you should contact the park owner by phone or in writing at once and explain your situation.

Residential and holiday parks

Residential parks are allowed to stay open.

If a holiday caravan park is your current main home then you can stay on site, as it will stay partially open for residents only.

Where a caravan park is housing people who would have nowhere to live, or is providing accommodation to key workers or vulnerable groups, they should stay open to those groups only and not remove them from their homes. 

The park should stay closed to those who are not key workers or vulnerable groups.

If you are occupying a holiday caravan and believe that you have a genuine reason, that falls within the government exemptions, as to why you are unable to return to your main home, you should contact the park owner by phone or in writing at once and explain your situation.

Key Workers

If you are a key worker and want to stay in your holiday caravan for your family’s safety, you can do this.

You should contact the park owner by phone or in writing at once and explain your situation.

Unless you’re a key worker, or consider yourself to be in a vulnerable group, you must stay at home. 

Walking

Exercising is important for everyone to maintain good physical and mental health however it will now be restricted to one form of outdoor exercise per day. This may be in the form of a walk, run or cycle and must be carried out alone or with members of your immediate household.

When exercising outside it is important to remember these key things:

  • Stay local – Don’t go too far or anywhere unfamiliar.
  • Participate in low risk, familiar activities.
  • If you see other people out exercising, remember to keep social distancing and leave a 2m space between you.
  • Most car parks will now be closed so aim to visit on foot or by bike.
  • Play parks and outdoor gyms will no longer be open.

Plan your days to include one form of exercising outside, it can be something to look forward to and the fresh air will be beneficial. Exercise can be so helpful for boosting your mood and getting your body moving, if only for 15 minutes.

If you are unsure of walks or trails available to you in your local area, there are plenty of options available on WalkNI.com. Please be aware that many walks will have their access points cut off and may not be easy to get to. Use your brain and try to keep as close to home as possible.