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matthew
30th April 2021

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 30 April 2021.

Travel to the SSE Arena Covid-19 Vaccination Centre

The SSE Arena is being used as a mass vaccination hub. There is limited space in the car park at the SSE Arena since it is being used as a drive through test centre so the public are strongly encouraged not to drive there.

Translink and the Department for Infrastructure are providing the following free transport options:

  • Europa Buscentre –  free shuttle bus, every 15 minutes from 07.45am – 8.15pm
  • Northside Park&Ride (Great Georges St, near Yorkgate) to SSE Arena – free shuttle bus every 10 minutes from 07.40am – 8.20pm
  • G2 Glider services to operate every 15-minutes from the city centre.
  • Train to Titanic Quarter station, a short walk from the SSE Arena.

Car parks within the city centre can be used for park and walk, or to link with the free shuttle service from Europa Buscentre.

Translink bus and rail services in Northern Ireland

Latest update 

From 22 March 2021 Translink services are operating on an increased timetable which is no longer limited to essential services only. Saturday evening services are reinstated

Visit Translink's website and journey planner for the latest timetable updates.

You can also call Translink's Contact Centre on 028 9066 6630.

Cross-Border Train Services

Latest update

From 18 January the Belfast to Dublin route service will be disrupted. The following services will be suspended until further notice:

Monday to Saturday:
6.45 am and 8.05 pm service from Belfast to Dublin Connolly.
7.35 am and 8.50 pm service from Dublin Connolly to Belfast Lanyon place.

The reduced service is in line with the latest lockdown restrictions and the requirements for essential travel only. The Cross-border rail services will also be operated by non-Enterprise trains.

For full details on timetables please see Translink's website
Translink is advising passengers to book their cross border journeys in advance.  Bookings can be made via Translink Contact Centre or Translink's website and journey planner.

Single Tickets ‘Walk-ups’:  Belfast – Dublin Airport/Dublin Coach Route

To assist with capacity management on the Belfast – Dublin Airport/Dublin Coach route, it is proposed to sell single tickets only for ‘walk-ups’ when Translink will commence sole operation following the withdrawal of Bus Eireann from this service. Return tickets for this route will continue to be sold online through Translink's website as capacity can be managed through a passenger manifest system.  

Face coverings on public transport 

In line with Government guidance, wearing a face covering is mandatory on public transport. This rule applies to all passengers in public areas, however, exemptions will apply for those who are not able to wear a face covering for specific medical reasons and children under the age of 13. 

Face coverings are mandatory on private hire transport and during air travel. They should be worn in taxis and on indoor areas of ferries. Taxi drivers should wear a face covering unless behind a partition. The wearing of face coverings on all dedicated school buses and public transport is mandatory for all post-primary children.

Further information is available on the nidirect website.

Changes to timetables

Translink are making the following changes on the 212 Belfast-Derry Goldline:

 Ex Foyle Street Londonderry

  • 05:30 departure replaced with 05:15 and 06:00 departures.

Visit Translink's website and journey planner for the latest timetable updates.

Changes to paying for tickets

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 more information visit 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 2020, while the fight against COVID-19 continues. This includes all NHS, Health and Social Care trust workers, including pharmacy staff, NHS/HSC agency workers and students on placement or working at a health and social care setting while on placement and those operating in private sector such as care homes. If you already have a ticket you may be able to apply for a refund. For more information visit Translink's website.

 

Entering or returning to NI

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 you must not travel.

Travelling from within the Common Travel Area

You should not travel in or out of Northern Ireland unless it is essential to do so.

If you arrive into Northern Ireland from within the Common Travel Area (UK, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and Channel Islands) and plan to stay here for at least 24 hours, you should self-isolate upon arrival for 10 days, unless you are exempt.

More information on travelling from within the Common Travel Area is available on the NIDirect website.

Travelling from outside the Common Travel Area

If you arrive into Northern Ireland from outside the Common Travel Area, you must:

  • provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to three days before departure;
  • complete a Passenger Locator Form;
  • self-isolate for 10 days; and
  • book a day two and eight package before arrival.

You can book a day two and eight package through an online portal.

Your household members do not need to self-isolate with you unless you have arrived from a red-list country, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene. You are permitted to leave self-isolation in order to leave Northern Ireland, should your intended stay be shorter than 10 days.

More information on travelling from outside the Common Travel Area is available on the NIDirect website.

Hotel quarantine 

If you have been in our transited through a 'red list' country in previous 10 days you must book and pay for a managed isolation package. 

You will be required to isolate there for 10 days and you can book it through an online portal

More information on 'red list' countries and hotel quarantine is available on the NIDirect website.

Travelling to the Republic of Ireland

When you arrive into the Republic of Ireland from overseas you must:

  • provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of arrival into Ireland;
  • Complete a Passenger Locator Form (even if travelling onwards to Northern Ireland; and
  • quarantine for 14 days (limited exceptions apply).

Journeys between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and from the Republic of Ireland to Great Britain are exempt from testing.

People who routinely cross the border (from either Great Britain or the Republic of Ireland) for essential purposes are not subject to these requirements. Residents of Northern Ireland can be fined €100 for crossing the border for non-essential reasons.

Your household members do not need to self-isolate with you unless you have arrived from a red-list country, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene. You are permitted to leave self-isolation in order to leave Northern Ireland, should your intended stay be shorter than 10 days.

If you plan to travel abroad in the weeks and months ahead, keep up-to-date with the latest advice for the country you plan travelling to.

More information on travelling to the Republic of Ireland is available on are available on the GOV.uk website.

Managed isolation packages for passengers go live

Any passenger who has been in, or travelled through a 'red list' country since 6 April 2021 must book and pay for a managed isolation package before making any other travel arrangements.

The package will include collection at the airport you have arrived at and transfer to the designated hotel, and a PCR test kit. Guests will be given a welcome pack upon their arrival. The pack will include information and signposting to essential services to help them in their stay at the hotel. Meals and refreshments will also be provided by the hotel.

The required managed isolation period will be 10 days and all bookings must be made through the online quarantine hotel bookings website. 

Passengers who have not arrived from a red list country will use the same booking portal  to pre-book their tests for their self-isolation at their own homes.

If you have been outside of the Common Travel Area since 6 April 2021, before arriving in Northern Ireland you must:

  • Provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to three days before departure;
  • Provide journey and contact details by completing a passenger locator form. This must be done 48 hours prior to arrival into NI or first point of entry into UK;
  • Isolate for 10 full days from the point of arrival;
  • Book a day 2 and 8 test package before arrival.

These measures are to stop the spread of potentially harmful variants of COVID-19 into Northern Ireland. Anyone not complying with the regulations may be refused boarding by the airline or carrier, and/or fined on arrival.

Detailed, up-to-date information on all international travel arrangements can be found on the nidirect international travel advice web page.

 

Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO, formerly FCO until Sept 2020) currently advises UK nationals on where it's safe to travel abroad.

The FCDO currently advises that travel from the UK should not be undertaken except with a legally permitted reason to leave home. If you do need to travel from England, you will need to complete a Declaration of Travel form here.

They maintain a list of destinations that they say no longer pose an unacceptably high risk for British travellers. You can view the latest list on Gov.uk website. This advice is being kept under constant review. Anyone entering the UK or Ireland from a high risk country must quarantine in a designated hotel for 14 days. More information is available on the government advice page.

Government guidance on safe general travel during Covid-19 can be found on the www.gov.uk website.

Please note: FCDO advice can also determine whether or not you are able to get a refund or insurance pay-out if you're due to travel to specific locations.     

England, Scotland and Wales

Travel advice and restrictions are being updated regularly and each of the devolved governments in EnglandScotland and Wales may issue different guidance so for the months ahead it is important to check their websites for up to date and accurate information.

Check with your travel or accommodation companies immediately

If you are 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.

Airline updates

This webpage is updated regularly 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.

It is now a requirement to present proof of a qualifying negative COVID-19 test taken up to three days prior to departure of the passenger's flight. If you do not have proof of a qualifying negative COVID-19 test within this timeframe, and if you do not qualify for one of the limited number of exemptions to the pre-departure testing requirement or have a reasonable excuse, your airline will deny you boarding to your flight. You will not be entitled to a refund since the Civil Aviation Authority considers that the failure of a passenger to comply with the pre-departure testing requirement would, for health reasons, constitute a reasonable ground for the airline to deny boarding

If you are denied boarding because you don't have a qualifying negative COVID-19 test, or your negative test comes in too late to travel, airlines may rebook you according to the terms and conditions of your ticket, but you will not be able to claim compensation for denied boarding under EC Regulation 261/2004. You will also not be entitled to the rights under EC261 to a refund for the cost of your flight, re-routing, or care and assistance. In cases of denied boarding, please contact your airline for further advice about your options. British nationals that need consular assistance should contact the nearest consulate, embassy or high commission.

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 us.

Aer Lingus

Latest update: 15 January 2021

Flights from the UK to the Republic of Ireland

The December 2020 travel ban is now lifted and Aer Lingus are operating flights between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland.

However, from 9 January 2021 the Irish Government requires everyone departing Great Britain and South Africa for Ireland to provide a negative result of a PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure. The mandatory requirement for a PCR test is necessary in order to board a flight in Great Britain and enforced at Border Control in the Republic of Ireland. Customers that do not have such evidence will be advised that they may be prosecuted on arrival if they proceed to travel.

Aer Lingus is operating flights from the Republic of Ireland to Great Britain in order to facilitate the repatriation of customers to Great Britain and those with connecting flights in Great Britain. Visit the Aer Lingus website to find out what options you have for your booking.

Consumers whose flights have been cancelled will be contacted by Aer Lingus directly, and are entitled to a refund, voucher or rerouting at a later date.

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

Aer Lingus have waived their change fees on any changes made before 31 December 2021. Please note that a fare difference may apply. More information on the different options available for your booking is available on Aer Lingus' website

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

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.

More information on the latest travel updates is available on Aer Lingus' website.

British Airways

Latest update: 15 January 2021

British Airways are operating a reduced and dynamic schedule due to the current travel situation. 

They are advising you to check the UK Government website for the latest travel updates and any new restrictions for the destination you are travelling to.

If your flight is cancelled they will contact you, but please also check the status of your flight before travelling to the airport and ensure your contact details are up to date.

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British Airways contact centres are receiving a large volume of calls at the moment, so bear with them if you are calling to rebook for immediate travel. British Airways are offering consumers who have been impacted by Tier 4 travel restrictions a voucher towards future travel. You must complete the voucher application before your check-in deadline.

Visit British Airway's website for more information.

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British Airways is offering passengers the following options:

If your flight is cancelled, you can rebook or claim a voucher to the value of your booking. You can also apply for a refund using the online form.

If you booked flights prior to 3 March 2020 for travel due to have started by 28 February or you booked from 3 March 2020 onwards for travel due to be completed by 30 April 2022, you can:

  • Change the dates and destination of your booking without incurring a change fee, although you will need to pay any difference in price.
  • Cancel your booking and receive a voucher.

Vouchers can be used as payment, or part payment, for a future booking. Your new trip booked with your voucher must be fully completed by 30 April 2023 (departure and return). You will receive your voucher by email within seven days of your application.

More information on your available options are available on British Airway's website

Call British Airways directly on 0800 727 800 from within the UK, or +44 (0)203 250 0145 from abroad.


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

easyJet

Latest update: 19 April 2021

easyJet are planning to operate as many flights as possible. Due to a number of governments imposing travel bans on flights arriving from the UK, easyJet are providing many options. To see what options are available to you and the latest changes, please visit easyJet's website.

easyJet currently have the following options available:

If your flight is not cancelled and you want to do a flight transfer, you can do so up to 14 days before departure without paying a fee. A fee applies for changes made within 14 days before departure, and in both cases you will be required to pay the difference if the new fare is higher. No credit is given if the new fare is lower and changes must be made at least two hours before departure.

If your flight is not cancelled but you are due to fly to or from a destination that is under a government-imposed lockdown you can contact easyJet customer services to chat about the following options:

  • Switch to another easyJet flight for free. This includes the option to select a different arrival and departure airport within the same country of the original booking if you wish.
  • Choose a voucher for the full value of your ticket. The voucher is valid for 12 months from the intended date of departure.
  • Request a refund.

In the UK, this policy currently applies to flights due to depart on or before 17 May 2021.

If your flight has been cancelled you can:

  • Switch to another easyJet flight for free. This includes the option to select a different arrival and departure airport within the same country of the original booking if you wish.
  • Choose a voucher for the full value of your ticket. The voucher is valid for 12 months from the date of issue.
  • Request a refund.

COVID-19 help hub

Visit EasyJet's online Help Hub.

EasyJet Holidays

Visit EasyJet Holidays travel information webpage.

Jet2

Latest update: 9 April 2021

Jet2 have suspended all flights and holidays up and including 23 June 2021.

If you were due to travel there is no need to contact them, they will automatically refund the total cost of your booking.

This will be credited to the card you paid with within the next 28 days, in the same number of instalments you paid in.

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If you are planning a getaway or have one booked, it is really important that you read the information below about the country you’re arriving into.

Please remember that this information is subject to change and correct at the time of publish. We also recommend taking a look at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel advice.

Flights and holidays

Flights and holidays to Dubrovnik, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Crete, Faro, Rhodes, Zante, Spain, the Canary Islands, Ibiza, Majorca, Menorca and Turkey recommence in May 2021.

Flights and holidays to Prague and Salzburg recommence in December 2021.

Flights to Budapest, Paris and Split have been cancelled indefinitely.

Contacting Jet2

Where customers are affected by any programme changes, Jet2 will be contacting them to discuss options, including rebooking with no admin fee, a Refund Credit Note or a full cash refund.

Jet2 has stated it will contact all affected customers directly to discuss options. 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

Available on Jet2's website

Ryanair

Latest update: 27 January 2021

Ryanair has cancelled all flights from Northern Ireland to Great Britain indefinitely. Routes are due to recommence from Northern Ireland to Krakow in April 2021, to Milan and Warsaw in May 2021 and to Spain and Gdanske in June 2021.

Ryanair is processing cancellations for all flights to/from the UK that have been banned by EU governments regulation. All affected customers will receive an email notification and they will be offered practical alternatives including a free move or refund if they so wish.

A small number of flights will operate to/from the UK primarily to facilitate UK passengers stranded abroad and to support passengers who need to travel for essential reasons. For passengers (booked on these operating flights) who do not wish to travel prior to 31 March 2021, Ryanair will facilitate a flight change, where no change fee will apply (any difference in fare will be charged), to any new date up to 31 October 2021. Any passenger whose flight has been cancelled can also move to these operating flights, subject to availability.

All flight changes can be made directly on Ryanair.com

Cancelled flights and refunds

If your flight was cancelled, Ryanair is issuing vouchers by email to the email address provided in your booking. For those customers who received the voucher and do not wish to accept it, you can request a cash refund. Ryanair state that refunds will be processed within 3 weeks, and that for your convenience your voucher will remain valid until your cash refund is processed. Otherwise vouchers must be used to make a booking within 12 months to travel at any time in the future.

For further information on disruptions and refunds visit Ryanair's website.

Further information

Visit Ryanair's refund help page for more information.

Other airlines

Eastern Airways

Eastern Airways have recommenced flights on specific routes from Belfast City Airport.

The Belfast City – Teeside route was terminated on 11 Jan 2021.

Flights from Belfast City – Cardiff are cancelled until further notice.

Flights from Belfast City – Southampton are due to recommence from 1 April 2021.

Flights from Dublin – Southampton are cancelled until June 2021

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 6 months 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: customersupport@easternairways.com with your booking reference as the subject field.

Please note: All customer enquiries are via email only.

For more information visit Eastern Airways website

KLM

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

For a full list of your options, visit the KLM website.

Loganair

Flights from City of Derry – London Stansted and return are operating on a reduced service. 

Flights from City of Derry to Glasgow will resume on 5 April 2021 and to Liverpool from 24 May 2021.

Flights from Belfast City Airport to Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Sumburgh and Teesside are due to resume in April 2021.

Flights from Belfast City to Glasgow, Barra, Benbecula, Islay, Kirkwall, Southampton, Stornoway and tiree are due to resume in May 2021.

Flights from Belfast City to the Isle of Man resume in June 2021.

If your flight is affected by timetable changes you will receive an email confirming your options within 24-48 hours.

If you do not receive an email your flight is unaffected and no further action is required from you.

For flights from 29 June 2020 you can amend your booking using the online Manage Booking option. Please be advised that in some cases a fare difference may apply cost extra.

For the latest information visit the Loganair website.

Contact:

Call centre: 0344 800 2855

Calling from overseas? +44 141 642 9407          

Mon-Fri: 08.00-17.00

Sat: 09.00-14.00

Sun: 10.00-17.00

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: urgenttravel@loganair.co.uk. For complaints, please contact: customerrelations@loganair.co.uk

TUI

TUI are not able to operate holidays at the moment due to the national lockdown. If you are booked to travel between now and 16 May 2021 your holiday is cancelled and TUI will contact you in departure date order. The following holidays (including flight-only and accommodation-only bookings), are also cancelled:

  • Departing on or before 31 October 2021:
    • Los Cabos, Mexico; Kvarner Bay, Croatia.

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 to request a refund.

Contact details: 0203 451 2688

Mon-Fri: 8am – 8pm

Sat: 8am – 6pm

Sun: 10am – 5pm

Latest Statement from TUI:

You can make a change fee-free up until 21 days before your original departure date if:

  • Your booking was made between 23 November 2020 and 30 November 2020, and is due to depart before 31 October 2021
  • Your booking was made between 22 December 2020 and 9 February 2021, and is due to depart before 31 October 2021

You can make a change fee-free up until 28 days before your original departure date if:

  • Your booking is due to travel before 30 June 2021
  • Your booking is due to travel between 1 June 2021 and 31 October 2021, and you book it on or after 10 February 2021

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

•These policies apply to TUI package holiday, accommodation-only and flight-only bookings.

• If your booking includes a non-TUI Airways flight, you’ll need to amend your holiday to one which includes a flight with the same carrier as your original booking.

• The standard booking terms & conditions apply for amendments made within 21 days or 28 days of departure – depending on which policy applies to your booking.  

The only exception to the above policies – for all holiday types – is if you’d like to change a name on your booking – this will still cost £25 per name.

If you need to visit a TUI retail store, be sure to phone in advance to check the opening hours. Use TUI's shop finder to get more information.

For more information visit the TUI website

Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is operating a reduced flight schedule.

If you are due to travel and are no longer able to, you can change your booking dates. There’s no fee to change your booking, and if you choose to travel on the same route up to 31 March 2021, or within 21 days of your original booking date, they’ll also waive any potential difference in fare. You will not be charged for a name change, a destination change and two date changes. If you are unsure of your new travel dates you have the option to leave your ticket open. You must rebook by 30 April 2023.

For bookings made on or after 3 March 2021, you can make unlimited date changes and one name change free of charge (if you’d like someone else to benefit from your ticket) when you book to travel any time up to 30th April 2022. Any difference in the fare is waived if you fly by 31st May 2021. It’s important that you make any changes before the date you were originally due to travel. You need to use your ticket by 30th April 2023.

If your flight has been cancelled, your ticket will automatically be left open as credit for you to use any time up to 30 April 2023. 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. Flights can only be rebooked up to 331 days in advance, so if you are looking to fly after that, please wait until flights become available. If an alternative flight or rebooking does not suit you, you can claim a refund using the online form. Refunds will be processed in 14 days. For more information visit the Virgin Atlantic website.

Wizzair

Wizzair are currently not operating any flights from Belfast International until May 2021.

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. For the latest travel information visit the Wizzair website.

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;
  • 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.

For more coronavirus travel information visit the Wizzair website.

It is now compulsory to wear face masks on board Wizzair flights. For flights over 4 hours they recommend you bring more face masks. Other protective gear is recommended and appreciated.

Contactless payments up to €25 are allowed. Wizzair recommend you download the latest onboard menu from our WIZZ mobile app.

Airport updates

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

Belfast City Airport

Belfast City Airport remains open and operational with a significantly reduced flight schedule. They became the first airport in Northern Ireland to achieve an airport health accreditation certificate by the Airports Council International (ACI) for its extensive COVID-19 safety measures.

Belfast City Airport recommends that consumers check directly with their airline or travel agent for questions about their travel plans. Cancelling, amending or rescheduling your flight cannot be actioned at the airport.

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. If you are already within the four hour window, you can contact the airport on airportparking@bca.aero, providing your full name and booking reference, for further information and clarity on your options.

Travel advice and information on COVID-19 can be found on the Belfast City Airport.

Customers who need to avail of the Special Assistance Service

George Best Belfast City Airport has advised that new measures and facilities have been put in place for customers who avail of the Special Assistance Service. These guidelines are designed to adhere to the Government guidelines and social distancing rules during the Covid-19 Pandemic.

For further information customers can contact the airport via the telephone number or email address provided.

  • Assistance Desk- 028 9093 5247

Belfast International Airport

Belfast International Airport (BIA) has achieved its health accreditation certificate from the Airport Councils International (ACI). The award recognises industry best practise in relation to health and hygiene measures put in place as a response to Covid-19. It is open for a limited schedule of EasyJet flights. Please check with your airline for latest updates.

BIA urge all passengers to adhere to the Government guidance regarding essential travel and only come to the airport if it is absolutely necessary to do so.

BIA has launched a new walk in testing facility at the airport, providing rapid PCR tests for those who require a negative test before travelling on any essential journeys. The COVID-19 testing from Randox is available to book now via the airport’s website. Passengers will be able to attend a Randox Testing facility at the airport, or at a Randox Health Clinic in either Crumlin or Holywood. Prices are set by the testing provider costing £99.

Visit the Gov.uk website for the latest restrictions. Please do not travel if you are feeling unwell and always follow the latest Government guidance regarding safer air travel.

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.

Getting to the airport

•           The Airport Express 300 is operating on a reduced schedule. See Translink for timetable information.

•           The 109A service between Crumlin and Antrim remains operational. See Translink for timetable information.

•           The Airporter service operates between Derry and Belfast.

•           The airport Taxi Company is operational.

City of Derry

The City of Derry airport is open for daily Loganair flights to London Stansted only until April 2021 when flights to Glasgow will resume followed by flights to Liverpool in May 2021.

The City of Derry Airport is offering free airport parking to all NHS staff for a year, until the end of April 2021. For more information visit the City of Derry website.

The airport has introduced new health and safety measures, visit the City of Derry website to find out the new measures.

Dublin Airport

Please note the latest advice from Garda Headquarters, quoted in the Irish Times: “Gardaí at Dublin Airport are enforcing the 5km from home travel limit. Essential travel restrictions apply to flights from Dublin Airport. Holidays abroad are not deemed essential. On the spot fines may be issued." Following the introduction of €100 fines for non-essential cross-border travel on 8 Feb 2021, a Garda spokeswoman confirmed holidaymakers from Northern Ireland who are stopped by GardaÍ on their way to an airport will be liable for both that €500 fine and the €100 cross-border fine.

Dublin airport remains open with enhanced public hygiene measures. Only travelling passengers should enter the airport with no accompanying persons. Face coverings should be worn inside airport buildings and shuttle buses, except for children under 13 and passengers who are exempt for medical reasons.

A number of airlines have suspended services while others are operating a limited service. Passengers should check directly with their airline for details. There are 2 COVID-19 testing facilities at the airport run by Randox and RocDoc. Tests must be booked in advance through the test provider.

Bus services are available from Belfast Europa Bus Centre to Dublin Airport on a reduced timetable – see the Translink website for timetables.

If the airline cancels my flight

If your flight is cancelled the airline must provide you with the option of a full cash refund payable within seven days or an alternative flight. These are your rights under EU Regulation 261 and apply even if you are stranded in another country.

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

In the current unprecedented circumstances airlines are struggling to fulfil this responsibility. Many airlines are saying that they are unable to process refunds within seven days and that consumers may have to wait a long time to get the refund.

As an alternative to a cash refund, many airlines are offering the option of vouchers that can be used to book flights in the future.

Some airlines are also offering vouchers if a passenger wants to cancel an existing booking. For more information on this situation see the section below: ‘If you do not want to or cannot travel but the flight has not been cancelled’.

Should I accept a voucher for my cancelled flight or insist on a refund?

Ultimately, this is a decision for you taking into consideration all of your own personal circumstances. In the current circumstances of the global pandemic there are many factors to consider, some of which are changing as the response to the pandemic changes.

The first thing to reiterate is that the law is absolutely clear that you are entitled to a cash refund if your flight is cancelled by the airline.

Currently the length of time airlines are taking to pay a refund varies but there is likely to be a considerable wait. So you should consider how important to you is getting a cash refund and crucially how urgently do you need it.

If you do apply for a cash refund and there is a delay, The Consumer Council can help. Call us on 0800 121 6022 or email at contact@consumercouncil.org.uk.

Before you accept a voucher, here are things you should check first

  • What are the terms of the vouchers you are being offered? Do they cover your needs in the long run?
  • Can the vouchers be redeemed for cash after a certain period? For example with Ryanair if you have not used the voucher after 12 months you can apply for cash refund, although this is not common practice.
  • How long are the vouchers valid for?
  • Is there any limit on the vouchers use?
  • Will you have to pay the difference if the new flight costs more and will you be able to use the difference if it is less?
  • Is there a financial incentive to take the voucher? For example Aer Lingus are adding 10% of the value of the booked flights to its vouchers.
  • Is there any mention of what will happen if the airline becomes insolvent? If it is not mentioned you will almost certainly not get your money back from the airline as there is no statutory insolvency scheme if you purchase an airline ticket from an airline or travel business and you receive a valid ticket in exchange for payment. For more information on your protection under the ATOL insolvency protection scheme visit the Civil Aviation Authority website. However you may be able to claim on your travel insurance if you have it, or through your credit card or debit card provider.
  • If you have travel insurance or are planning on buying some, check it covers for airline insolvency (the term is usually called Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance or End Provider Failure Insurance).

Before you accept a voucher, here are some things that are uncertain but you should keep in mind

Last updated: 15 January 2021.

  • Will there be government restrictions in place, whether in the UK or at a foreign destination, which may restrict your ability to travel at the new time that you want to book new flights using the voucher?
  • Will the airline still be flying to the original destination you had booked when it restarts its flights?
  • Will the cost of flights increase, as you will probably have to pay the difference?
  • Do you have any real concern that the airline may become insolvent between the time of accepting the voucher and taking the flight, as there is no statutory insolvency scheme if you purchase an airline ticket from an airline or travel business and you receive a valid ticket in exchange for payment. For more information on your protection under the ATOL insolvency protection scheme visit the Civil Aviation Authority website. However, you may be able to use your travel insurance or claim from your credit or debit card provider.
  • We have produced a drop down list showing the key features of the vouchers currently being offered by the main airlines flying in and out of Northern Ireland. This information is provided by the airlines from their websites. It is subject to change by the airlines without giving notice to us We update this site regularly but you should refer to your airline to ensure all these details are accurate before you agree to accept a voucher and always read the full terms and conditions.

We have produced a drop down list showing the key features of the vouchers currently being offered by the main airlines flying in and out of Northern Ireland. You should refer to your airline to ensure all these details are accurate before you agree to accept a voucher and always read the full terms and conditions. 

Information correct as of 18 January 2021.

Aer Lingus

Voucher offer for passengers cancelled flights or:

  • Guests who have booked a Plus or Advantage fare (Flights within Europe) or a Smart or Flex fare (Transatlantic flights) once the voucher is requested up to 14 days before your scheduled departure date.
  • Guests who booked a Green List route on or after 5 August 2020 where there is a change to the Green List route by government.

Details:

  • Vouchers cover the full value of flights (fare, taxes and charges, ancillary purchases).
  • Passengers must agree they are happy to accept the voucher in lieu of a refund.
  • The voucher is valid for five years from issue date.
  • The value of the voucher will include fare, taxes, charges, seats, bags and administration fee. It will not apply for any third party payments. Third party ancillaries such as car hire are not included.
  • The lead guest should apply and only one voucher will be issued per booking.
  • The lead guest on the booking will receive the voucher by email.
  • In order to redeem a voucher the person whose name is on the voucher must be a member of the party being booked. Vouchers are transferable and this can be done via the Change Name function in Manage my Voucher on aerlingusvouchers.com.
  • Vouchers can only be redeemed against bookings in the currency of issue.
  • Any credit remaining following redemption of the voucher may be used within the original validity period towards future flight purchases.
  • Vouchers are not refundable.
  • Vouchers will not be redeemed or exchanged for cash.

Full voucher terms and conditions are available on Aer Lingus' website.

British Airways

Voucher offer for cancelled flights or passengers who want to cancel their flight and have the following bookings;

  • Bookings made prior to 3 March 2020 for journeys due to have started by 28 February 2021.
  • Bookings made from 3 March 2020 onwards for journeys that are due to have been completed by 30 April 2022.

Details:

  • Travel vouchers are now valid until 30 April 2023 (includes previously issued vouchers).
  • Your new trip booked with your voucher must be fully completed by 30 April 2023 (departure and return).
  • To receive a voucher you need to complete a voucher application form. Do not cancel your original booking as BA will not be able to issue a voucher for a flight that has been cancelled by a customer.
  • You will receive your voucher by email. Due to high demand it may take a few days before the voucher confirmation is processed and a response received. However British Airways will honour the date at which you submitted your voucher application.
  • Flight only bookings can be exchanged up to the close of check-in. Date changes and voucher exchanges requested for flight + hotel and flight + car package bookings must be made a minimum of three weeks before departure if travelling after 1 January 2021. Less than three weeks' notice will be accepted if new UK government rules are introduced within this time that prevent your trip or require you to quarantine in a designated hotel on your return.
  • If you have already taken advantage of the no change fee policy you can still receive a voucher if the new travel date is before 28 February 2021 (for bookings made prior to 3 March 2020) or you are due to complete your travel by 30 April 2022 (for bookings made from 3 March 2020 onwards).
  • If you flight has already departed you are not eligible for a voucher.
  • If you have taken a voucher it cannot be converted to a cash refund in the event that your original flight subsequently does not operate.
  • Vouchers will be issued in the same currency as your original payment.
  • The voucher allows you to make a future booking in the name of the person on the original ticket. If you had multiple bookings each person will receive their own voucher to use. The voucher is non-transferable.
  • If you book a flight that’s cheaper than the value of the voucher British Airways will issue another voucher covering the fare difference. You will need to pay any difference if the new fare is more expensive.
  • A seating credit will be included in the value of your voucher. This credit has to be used towards a seating purchase when you make a new booking. Baggage purchases will be refunded and will not be credited with a voucher.
  • The voucher can be used on any British Airways marketed route with a British Airways flight number with the exception of bookings on Sun-Air. The voucher can be used on any British Airways marketed route with a British Airways flight number or be put towards a new British Airways Holiday.
  • Flights booked using vouchers will be subject to the new bookings regular Terms and Conditions.
  • A voucher may only be redeemed towards a new British Airways Holidays booking made once you have received the voucher. Vouchers are not eligible to be used in payment or part-payment towards an existing holiday booking.
  • Credit from cancelled British Airways Holidays package bookings will not be ATOL protected until redeemed for a new package holiday reservation.

Further information on vouchers can be found on the British Airway's website.

EasyJet

Latest update 30 March 2021

You can opt for a flight voucher if your flight has been cancelled. This voucher will be for the full value of your ticket.

As a gesture of goodwill, if you opt for a flight voucher, easyJet are also offering you one of the following:

  1. A £50 easyJet holidays voucher to use against your next easyJet holidays booking departing from the UK. This voucher will be valid until 30 September 2021, for travel until 31 October 2021.
  2. A £5 extra flight voucher per person, per flight, to use on future easyJet flight-only bookings. This voucher will be valid for bookings made up to 12 months from the date of issue (unless otherwise advised by easyJet), for travel on any date on sale at the time of booking.

Details:

  • Your voucher will be valid for 12 months from date of issue.
  • You do not need to travel before the expiry date, you can book onto any flights that are on sale at the time you redeem your voucher.
  • The voucher will be emailed to the easyJet account holder that made the original booking. Please be aware it may take several days to be issued.
  • The voucher can be used on easyJet.com or the easyJet mobile app using the same easyJet account as the original booking. The voucher code must be entered on the payment page prior to completion of the booking.
  • Vouchers are non-transferable and non-refundable.
  • Only one voucher can be used per booking.
  • If the new booking is greater than the voucher value, the difference must be paid by card. If the new booking is lower than the voucher value, the remaining value is stored and can be used on future bookings within the validity date.
  • The new booking must be for easyJet flights only (including any seats and bags booked at the same time). The voucher cannot be used where other ancillaries are added such as cars or travel insurance. Vouchers cannot be redeemed at the airport.
  • Some booking types might not be eligible for a voucher and therefore a refund may be issued instead. If you made your booking via a tour operator, travel agent or OTA please contact them directly to get your voucher or refund. 
  • If your booking type is not eligible for a voucher and is processed as a refund instead, you will not be eligible for an extra from easyJet.

Further information on vouchers can be found on EasyJet's website.

Jet2

All flights suspended up to including 16 May 2021. Offering automatic refunds for cancelled bookings. If you are due to travel from 17 May 2021 onwards, an update will be provided closer to the time.

If you have a refund credit note:

Details:

  • You need to rearrange your flights within six months of receiving it. If you don’t redeem your refund credit note by this date, you’ll be given a full cash refund, contact Jet2’s Customer Services Team to discuss your options.
  • The credit note is only applicable to new bookings.
  • If the price of your new booking is less than your refund credit note, the remaining balance will stay on your refund credit note and you can use it on another Jet2 booking. If the price of your new booking is more than your refund credit note, you can pay the difference by another payment method.
  • Any previous cancellation charges, admin fees or any charges for insurance which you may have purchased will not be included in the value of the Refund Credit Note.
  • Normal terms and conditions apply to all bookings once confirmed.
  • Normal amendment fees will apply for any date or name changes, once a new booking has been confirmed.
  • Only redeemable on flight only bookings made directly with Jet2.com and not any bookings made with Jet2holidays.
  • Please note, if you receive reimbursement for your flight via other means, the Refund Credit Note (or any flight booked using this Refund Credit Note) will be voided without further notice.
  • This Refund Credit Note is intended for the lead passenger. Jet2 reserves the right to cancel the Refund Credit Note or a booking made with a Refund Credit Note if this has been used by someone other than the intended recipient or without their permission.
  • To redeem your Refund Credit Note please enter your code in the “credit note” box on the payment page when booking your flight at https://www.jet2.com, or contact its Travel Advisors.

Further information on vouchers can be found on the Jet2 website.

Ryanair

Details for cancelled flights:

  • If your flight was cancelled, you will receive your voucher from Ryanair by email to the email address provided in your booking. The email will include voucher details, an 18 digit voucher code, the monetary amount, and expiration date.
  • Travel Vouchers are valid for 12 months after the issue date and they can be redeemed within that time on Ryanair’s website. The validity of the Travel Vouchers cannot be extended.
  • Each group booking will receive one voucher on behalf of all customers (including infants). The voucher will be in the customer's name who made the original booking.
  • You can travel after the expiry date as long as the flight is booked before the expiry date.
  • Travel vouchers can be redeemed for cash at the end of their 12 months’ validity period.  
  • Travel Vouchers can only be redeemed in the currency of issue.
  • Travel Vouchers can only be redeemed by the recipient of the voucher. You can use the voucher to pay for multiple travel companions.
  • If the total flight price exceeds the value of the Travel Voucher(s) used to pay for the booking, any price difference can be paid with by credit/debit card or with PayPal.
  • If you don't use all of your voucher balance at one time, you can use your voucher code for future transactions. Once the voucher expires, any remaining balance will be refunded in cash.
  • Travel Vouchers can be used as payment for flights, seats, priority, checked bags, fast track, baby equipment, music equipment, sports equipment, travel insurance and associated taxes, fees and charges (not car hire, transfers or hotel bookings). Passenger name changes are not permitted if a booking has been paid for using a Travel Voucher.
  • Travel Vouchers are non-transferable.
  • Ryanair reserves the right to withdraw or amend these Terms of Use at its reasonable discretion. Ryanair will notify customers of any changes in writing.
  • These Terms of Use apply to the use of the Ryanair Travel Vouchers. The Ryanair General Terms & Conditions of Carriage apply.

Further information on vouchers can be found on the Ryanair website.

 

Fixed sum compensation

In normal circumstances, prior to the COVID 19 crisis, you would be entitled to compensation on top of a refund if your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before the flight was due to go. However, this was never payable when the cancellation is due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’. The CAA is the UK Aviation Regulator that enforces the EU Regulations on passenger rights. The view of the CAA is that COVID-19 is an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ and therefore the fixed sum compensation is not payable.

If you do not want to or cannot travel, but the flight has not been cancelled

You are not automatically entitled to a refund from your airline if you do not want to or cannot travel, but the flight has not been cancelled by the airline. This is the case even with the current UK FCO advice against all non-essential international travel, the current Northern Ireland Government restrictions on non–essential movement, and ongoing travel restrictions in other countries.

However, 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 as an alternative.

You should consider very carefully whether to accept an alternative booking or a voucher. You should consider the same issues around vouchers as described above in the ‘If the airline cancels my flight’ section and refer to the main Northern Ireland airline vouchers table at the bottom of that section. However there is also a very important difference between your rights when the airline cancels the flight and when you cancel the flight or simply do not travel.

The key difference is that if you do not accept a voucher or rebook and the flight goes ahead you will not be entitled to a refund and the airline can claim to have discharged its obligation to you and do not need to offer you a voucher after the event. Therefore you may not get either a flight or a refund from the airline.  

Furthermore, your travel insurance may not cover you for this. The Association of British Insurers says that travel insurance does not cover a ‘disinclination’ to travel. However, if UK government travel restrictions are still in place at the time of the flight your travel insurance is more likely to pay. You should the terms of your travel insurance carefully. For more information see the ‘Travel insurance’ section.

It is also not certain that you will be able to claim the money back from your credit card company (Section 75 of the Consumer Credit) or debit card provider under the Chargeback scheme.

CMA guidance

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued guidance on the 30 April 2020 (updated 28 August 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.

You can use the CMA guidance to try to persuade the airline to refund you, or to persuade your credit or debit card provider to cover the cost of your flight.

However, the CMA states this is its view on the law, but that only the courts can decide what the law is and that the CMA’s views are not a substitute for independent legal advice. More information is available on the Gov.uk website.

Air Passenger Duty Refund

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 on flights departing from the UK. 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 for one way flight), this may be 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. However, there is no long haul APD charge for flights from Northern Ireland). You should contact your airline to do this.

Further Information

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is providing useful information for travellers who have had their plans affected. Read more on the Civil Aviation Authority website.

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

 

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 visit the Civil Aviation Authority website.

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 raised on the flightrights website.

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 visit the European Commission website.

Air Passenger Guidance for travel during the coronavirus outbreak

The Department for Transport has published passenger guidance for travelling by air when travel restrictions have been lifted. The guidance covers all aspects of the travel experience, from checking the public health requirements before booking a flight, to navigating the airport safely and boarding the flight or leaving the airport.

The full guidance is available on the GOV.uk website.

Travel insurance

The current FCDO advice, as of 13 January 2021, is that domestic and international travel is only allowed with a legally permitted reason.

If you are booked to travel anywhere during this time, your flights may be cancelled and your airline may refund you. If this does not happen, the FCDO's advice is often the trigger for insurance cancellation cover, so you will be able to make a claim if you have that.

Further Government-imposed restrictions on travel, social distancing, quarantine, 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 FCDO advice against all but essential is removed.  

Many travel insurance providers have changed the terms of cover because of the COVID-19 pandemic and 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 www.abi.org.uk

Which? has also produced useful information on the latest position with travel insurance that is available on www.which.co.uk

 

If my cruise, package holiday or holiday accommodation is cancelled

ATOL Protection
The UK and European law say your holiday must be protected if you book a package. ATOL is a UK financial protection scheme and protection applies to most air package holidays sold by UK travel businesses. The law says your holiday must be protected if you book a holiday with a single travel firm that includes:

  • flights and accommodation (including a cruise), or
  • flights and car hire, or
  • flights, accommodation and car hire.

The Government is protecting credit note refunds issued for ATOL-protected bookings that were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning those who accept them will get their money back if the travel firm goes bust.

The Government initially said it would protect refund credit notes issued between 10 March 2020 and 30 September 2020 for ATOL-protected bookings. It later extended this to 31 December 2020, before extending it again to cover all credit notes issued between 10 March 2020 and 31 March 2021.

If you opt for a refund credit note, you can choose at any point up to 30 September 2021 to cash it in for a refund instead.

For those ATOL-protected holidaymakers whose trips have already been cancelled, this reform will give them the freedom to choose between a refund or a fully-protected refund credit note for use at a later date.

Package Travel Regulations
Your rights are protected under the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs). More information on PTRs can be found by clicking 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 ABTA's website by clicking here 

Virgin Holidays refunds 
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced on 23 October 2020 that following CMA action, Virgin Holidays has committed to refund all customers whose package holidays were cancelled due to coronavirus.
 
Virgin Holidays will ensure all of its customers receive their money without undue delay and by the following dates:
•    holidays cancelled before 1 September 2020 will be repaid by 30 October 2020
•    holidays cancelled from 1 September to 31 October 2020 will be repaid by 20 November 2020
 
Virgin Holidays will also ensure that people who are entitled to a refund for a holiday cancelled on or after 1 November 2020 will be paid within 14 days. These undertakings apply to all Virgin Holidays businesses that offer package holidays, including Virgin Holidays Cruises.
 
This announcement follows significant action by the CMA in relation to holiday cancellations. It has written to over 100 package holiday firms to remind them of their obligations to comply with consumer protection law and has already secured refund commitments from TUI UK, Sykes Cottages and Vacation Rentals.

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:

A Refund Credit Note (RCN) entitles you to rebook a holiday or receive a cash refund at a later date, up until the expiry date of the note. The expiry date lets you know when that company’s financial protection runs out. If you wish to receive a refund before the expiry date, you should make this clear to your travel provider.

  • Holiday vouchers are not the same as RCNs and do not come with the financial protection of ATOL or ABTA. RCNs only cover package holiday bookings. If an airline offers you a voucher for a cancelled flight, check the terms and conditions with the airline.
  • 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 in place until the end of the current lockdown period on 1 April 2021, subject to review on 18 March 2021. 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 of 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 a 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 FCDO 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 from 9am-5pm Mon-Thurs and 9am-4pm Fri, or email: consumerline@economy-ni.gov.uk

 

If you have booked car hire

The following car hire companies are currently operating and using enhanced cleaning procedures, although opening hours and locations may be reduced.

Avis/Budget
There are no fees for reservation changes. Prepaid bookings can be cancelled free of charge as long as it is cancelled more than 24 hours before the day the rental begins, otherwise a fee will apply. ‘Pay on collection’ or ‘pay later’ bookings can be cancelled at any time without charge.

Enterprise
Existing reservations can be cancelled or amended for free on the Enterprise website or using the Enterprise app.

Europcar
Booking modifications and cancellations are free of charge up to 48 hours before the pick-up time. For cancellations made later than this, a cancellation fee of £45, or the whole price of rental if value is lower, will be charged.

Hertz
Hertz has waived one-way rental fees, cancellation fees and change fees for pre-paid reservations in travel restricted areas. Customers who have made a reservation affected by travel restrictions can cancel the reservation at any time or rebook for a later date, without charge.

For rentals not taking place in a travel restricted region, and where the prepaid reservation was booked prior to 13 March 2020, you can change the rental to another date without charge. If you rebook the rental within 12 months, you then have a further 12 months to collect the vehicle – this offers you a total of 24 months flexibility to rent later. There is no fee applicable on prepaid reservations that are cancelled 48 hours prior to pick-up. For more information see www.hertz.co.uk/rentacar

Sixt
Sixt have introduced flexible reservation changes until 31 May 2021. Bookings made with the ‘Pay online’ option can be changed for £0.01 and bookings made with the ‘Pay later’ option can be changed free of charge at any time. Cancellations will incur a charge of up 3 days rental.

 

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 visiting www.which.co.uk

Passports

British Passports 

If you are applying for a new British passport, or need to renew your existing one, the Passport Office has advised you should allow 10 weeks for this to be processed. 

It is anticipated that there may be a surge in British passport applications due to the possibility of the international travel ban being lifted on 17 May 2021 for consumers in England. 

Click here to apply online for a British passport

Irish Passports 

The Passport Service in the Republic of Ireland has paused operations in line with the move to Level 5 of the Irish Government's National Framework on Living with COVID-19 from 24 December 2020. 

Click here to visit the Department of Foreign Affair's website for the latest news on Irish passports. 

Further Information 

Click here to visit the NI Direct website that contains further information on passports.  

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.

For more information call 028 9072 6020 or see www.accessibletravelni.org

 

Community transport in Northern Ireland

Disability Action Transport Services have resumed passenger transport activities since 1 July 2020.  However, significant restrictions to Dial-a-Lift services are still in place.

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 www.consumercouncil.org.uk/coronavirus

Further information is available www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/news

 

Coach Travel to and from Northern Ireland

Hannon Coach
Northern Ireland-based bus firm Hannon Coach has suspended all services on its Belfast to Glasgow route until further notice. Visit the Hannon Coach website for more information.

Eamonn Rooney Coach Hire
All services are suspended until further notice, including Newry-Belfast, Newry-Dublin and University services.

Aircoach and Expressway services to Dublin
Bus Eireann Expressway has suspended its service to Dublin Airport and Dublin city.

Aircoach's 705X (Dublin City – Belfast via Dublin Airport) is suspended until the end of May 2021 or until the restrictions change. Please see the website for more information.

Translink Dublin Service
It is important that customers book their travel in advance to secure a seat. Bookings can be made via Translink Contact Centre or online Translink’s www.translink.co.uk/journeyplanner and www.translink.co.uk

 

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.

Where passenger services are cancelled due to border/route closures all ticket types will be eligible for a refund. The current UK Lockdown/Covid-19 Test Requirements are not considered a border closure, for guidance on how to change your bookings a result of a national lockdown please see the website.

If you're unsure about your travel plans for any other reason, you can rebook without paying an amendment fee for bookings made before 30 December 2021. You can rebook and travel until 31 December 2021 and the difference in ticket price still applies.

Please note, in line with government advice, it is now a requirement that all passengers wear a facial covering when travelling on public transport, including ferries. You will also need to complete a Passenger Health Locator form when travelling to the UK. Please ensure that you read the government’s latest advice before you travel.

Self-isolation:
You are required to self-isolate for 10 days on your return to the UK and have evidence of a negative result from a PCR test taken no more than 72 hours prior to arrival.

From 9 January 2021, all passengers arriving into Ireland whose journey originates in Great Britain are required to have evidence (email, text, or document) of a negative result from a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test taken up to 72 hours prior to their arrival in Ireland. Passengers are also advised that they should self-isolate for 14 days on arrival to Ireland.

Changes to routes:

P&O Ferries are still running from Dover to Calais, Hull to Rotterdam, Liverpool to Dublin, and Larne to Cairnryan for essential passenger travel and freight services.

The Hull to Zeebrugge routes is operating for freight only.

Further information:
More information can be found www.poferries.com/en/coronavirus

Stena Line Ferries

Stena Line 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 three and the Belfast to Cairnryan route is down from 12 daily crossings to six.

From Monday 15 June 2020, all Stena Line passengers will be required to wear face masks or face coverings whilst in their ports and onboard the vessels when travelling on its the Irish Sea and the North Sea routes. A number of additional safety requirements are in place including additional hand sanitising stations, changes to food service, closure of kids play areas, closure of saunas, encouraging of card payments, and more. For the full of safety measures on-board, embarking/disembarking and at terminals, see https://www.stenaline.com/sail-safe/

More information can be found at https://www.stenaline.co.uk/faqs/coronavirus-advice

Fees for rebooking tickets
Stena Line is waiving any fees for rebooking tickets for all destinations so that you can amend your travel as it suits you if your circumstances change.

Changing the date or time of your booking may result in different pricing, but there is no fee for making changes

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 11 am to 1 pm by calling the usual RIFL number 02820769299 or email info@rathlinballycastleferry.com.

Carlingford Ferry

The ferry is currently suspended due to the latest public health & travel guidelines and is due to resume in May 2021.

For further information on their sailing times see carlingfordferry.com/sailing-status/

 

 

Lough Foyle Ferry (Greencastle)

Due to Donegal moving to Level 3 restrictions, Lough Foyle Ferry will have to stop the ferry service with immediate effect.

For further information please visit loughfoyleferry.com/sailing-status

Steam Packet Company (Isle of Man)

  • From 20 July 2020, the Isle of Man Government will permit Isle of Man residents to travel off-Island and return, providing that they strictly follow travel and self-isolation rules. The Isle of Man’s borders will remain closed to non-Island residents until further notice.
  • Amendments and cancellations of bookings for travel affected by Government imposed COVID-19 travel restrictions may be made in accordance with Steam Packet Company's Book with Confidence Commitment. Learn more here www.steam-packet.com

Information on amendment fees and refunds

  • No amendment fees: To give you greater flexibility, amendment fees will be waived if you choose to amend your travel dates until later in the year due to COVID-19 Government imposed travel restrictions. 
  • Full refund if a booking is cancelled: If your booking needs to be cancelled due to COVID-19 Government imposed travel restrictions Steam Packet Company will refund your booking within 30 days.

More information is available on www.steam-packet.com/information/coronavirus

Strangford Lough Ferry

Changes to timetables

Since Monday 10 August 2020, the ferry is operating a full timetable. 

Further information is available on www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/strangford-ferry-timetable.

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 on sites.google.com/view/coronavirusguidance/journey-safety

West Belfast Black Taxis

The black taxi service has restarted and all taxis have been fitted with sanitation stations and Perspex screens. Taxis will now take a maximum of four passengers instead of the usual six.

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.

Value Cabs have implemented a few changes for operating 24/7 throughout COVID-19:

  • Only two passengers are allowed per journey. Both have to be seated in the rear of the vehicle
  • Touch points on vehicles are cleaned between journeys
  • Protective screens have been fitted to 70% of its working fleet
  • Vehicles specifically fitted with a screen can be requested

Further information is available on www.valuecabs.co.uk/coronavirus-covid-19.

Travel organisation contact details

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

Aer Lingus

Aircoach

Customer service: 028 9033 0655

Website: https://www.aircoach.ie/help/contact-us

British Airways

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)

Customer service: 0300 303 2800

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

Eastern Airways

Customer service: 0870 366 9100

Website: https://www.easternairways.com/contact

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/

Jet2

Customer service: 0333 300 0042

Website: https://www.jet2.com/en/contact-us

KLM

Loganair

Customer service: 0344 800 2855

Website: https://www.loganair.co.uk/contact-us/

Ryanair

Customer service: 0330 1007 838

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

P&O Ferries

Customer service: 08716 64 2121

Freight enquiries: +44 (0) 1304 44 88 88

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

 

StenaLine

Telephone: 

  • General Reservations & Enquiries 03447 707 070

  • Ferrycheck 08705 755 755

  • Freight - Commercial Vehicles over 6.0m 08450 704 000 / 08708 503 535

Website: https://www.stenaline.co.uk/customer-services

Translink

Customer service: 028 90 66 66 30

Website: https://www.translink.co.uk/feedback

TUI

Customer service: 0203 451 2688

Website: https://www.tui.co.uk/destinations/contact-us

Virgin Atlantic

Customer service: 0344 874 7747

Website: https://flywith.virginatlantic.com/gb/en/contact-us.html

Wizzair

Customer service: 0905 707 0000*

*Be aware there is a call charge of £1.45 per minute

Website: https://wizzair.com/en-gb/information-and-services/contact/contact-us

Holiday at Home Voucher Scheme

The Holiday at Home Voucher Scheme which will allow Northern Ireland households to claim back 50% off a stay of two nights or more in certified accommodation, up to the value of £100.

Vouchers will also be issued, offering 50% off visits to attractions or tourism experience providers, up to the value of £20.  Vouchers will be allocated on a first come first served basis and each household can apply for one of each type of voucher.  Households can then claim their voucher money back by uploading their receipt and voucher details online.

The scheme will be launched in the autumn to drive demand after the summer season.

Caravans

From 30 April the Executive has agreed that people in Northern Ireland can return to self-contained tourist accommodation for one household only. That includes static and touring caravans, as well as holiday homes.

Hotels and B&Bs will not be allowed to reopen fully until 24 May, and this will need to be confirmed by the Executive closer to the time.

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, with members of your immediate household or bubble, or with one member of another household.

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

  • Stay local – Don’t go too far or anywhere unfamiliar. Current guidelines impose a 10-mile limit from your home.
    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.

The future of foreign travel in Northern Ireland

Should I book a holiday from Northern Ireland? What does the future of foreign travel look like? Richard Williams, Head of Transport at The Consumer Council, spoke to Belfast International Airport and ABTA about the future of foreign travel for consumers in Northern Ireland in March 2021. Watch the video below.