Friday, 5 Jun 2020

Coronavirus flights: ‘No time to lose’ warns expert as Britons panic about getting home

Coronavirus has led to flights being cancelled left, right and centre and countries closing down their borders. This has left many Britons stuck abroad and unsure of how to get home. Travel expert Simon Calder shared his travel advice on BBC’s The Travel Show today for what he described as “the worst emergency that’s ever happened in travel.”

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Calder explained that the priority here is simply getting back to the UK, no matter the cost.

“It’s such an unusual situation, it’s more of a case of fly first, ask questions later,” said the travel guru.

He pointed out that many airlines are ignoring passenger rights rules, saying the situation is out of their control.

In short, get that flight and get home.

“Tf you know that the government of the country you’re in is banning international flights in two days time just get online and get a flight,” urged Calder.

“In extremis go to the airport and see what you can find.”

However, for those panicked about never getting back, Calder added: “Most people will be able to get out.”

If you are stranded, Calder continued “assume you won’t get any help from your airline, travel insurance company or embassy.”

“You have to make decisions now, there’s no time to lose,” the expert warned.

“Spend what you need to, get family and friends to pay for your ticket – just get yourself out and then ask questions later.”

The problem with embassies, Calder elaborated, is that “they are simply not cut out for the situation of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of nationals, all being in the same situation of having to leave the country at top speed.

“The systems we have in place were never designed for the worst emergency that’s ever happened in travel.”

As for travel insurance, “Travel insurers are in unchartered territory,” said Calder, adding “their finances are under tremendous pressure.”

If your insurer is not paying out, despite the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advising against all but essential travel, and you have a valid claim, you can go to a financial ombudsman service.

However, “the insurance industry won’t be in a hurry to pay people out,” Calder cautioned, “this is going to cost billions.”

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