Last updated 14:42 on the 9th July 2020
We need to start by thanking everyone who had a trip cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic for being so patient, as well as our superb partners who have worked hard to ensure our customers aren’t being left out of pocket.
If you're anything like us, you've spent the last few months craving getting your mates together and booking a holiday. We’re here to help you do both, by helping you organise your group, find the right option and book safely and without hassle.
Naturally, anyone considering travel in the wake of the pandemic will have more questions and concerns than usual. This page sets out how you can ensure that when the time is right for you, you can book with confidence.
Our team is here to help and you should always feel comfortable asking for further reassurance when you chat to us, too.
The next few months
With lockdown in the UK and around Europe easing, some countries are opening up their borders to foreign tourists. This means you can travel freely to those countries without having to go into quarantine when you arrive.
Even better, from the 10th July you no longer have to quarantine when you return to the UK from countries that the UK government has included on the list of travel corridors.
One caveat to bear in mind is that this list includes countries which are not currently open to visitors from the UK and even some countries whose borders are completely closed to tourism.
From the list of countries published last Friday, only 25 countries are both deemed safe to travel by the FCO and won't expect you to quarantine for 14 days when you arrive.
Andorra, Belgium, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Faroe Islands (Visitors required to take Covid-19 test at airport on arrival), France (Arrivals from the UK asked to self-isolate for 14 days, but this is not mandatory), Germany, Gibraltar, Greenland, Iceland (Open to tourists, but all arrivals must choose to pay to be tested for coronavirus or self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival (Children born in 2005 or later are exempt), Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania (Recommends 14-day self-isolation, but this is not mandatory), Luxembourg, Monaco (Arrivals from the UK asked to self-isolate for 14 days, but not mandatory), Netherlands (Strongly advised 14-day self-isolation, but not mandatory), Poland, San Marino, Serbia, Spain (Temperature check on arrival/must provide contact info), Switzerland, Turkey, Trinidad and Tobago (Government is asking all visitors to self-isolate for 14 days, but this is not mandatory) and Vatican City.
For guidance on which countries in the EU are open, what their entry requirements are, and what health protocols are in place visit this link where details are updated daily.
The FCO eased its advice against all but essential travel as of the 4th July. You can see that list here. This is particularly important as it makes it much easier for you to obtain travel insurance if visiting any of these destinations.
Other useful links:
- Guidance on staying safe and healthy abroad
- Latest UK Quarantine Rules
- Latest FCO Guidance
- Government air travel advice
Beyond the next few months
It goes without saying that we’re all hoping for a gradual return to normality over the next few months, but for your own peace of mind, it makes sense to hope for the best and plan for the worst.
We believe we provide the safest possible way to book your next holiday.
This may seem an outlandish claim but it’s true and we can explain.
- We’re independent
We have excellent relationships with hundreds of partners, large and small, and we value every one of them. But we don’t provide the holidays ourselves.
This means that when you plan a trip with packed, we’re able to make unbiased recommendations based on how relevant they are to what you’re looking for, the value you’re getting, and crucially at the moment, the booking terms that are being offered.
So we’ll always be very clear about the terms you’re being offered and we promise to give you the advice you need.
- ATOL protected
Our ATOL licence means all flight-based packages are ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority.
ATOL protects you from losing your money or being stranded abroad. It does this by carrying out checks on the tour operators and travel organisers it licenses, requiring them to take part in a financial guarantee scheme managed by the ATT (Air Travel Trust) which provides the funds to protect customers should a firm fail.
This gives you full financial protection should we or one of our partner’s go out of business and your trip can’t go ahead as planned. Good to know, especially in the current climate.
- Trust Account
Most importantly, and unlike the majority of travel businesses, every penny you spend with packed goes straight into a trust account, overseen by Trustees from the Travel Trust Association. These trustees are independent of packed and they mean business when it comes to your financial protection.
To give you an idea of just how serious they are, your money can only ever be used when we’ve taken out (at our own expense) sufficient insurance against us, or any of our partners going bust.
This means your money can only ever leave the trust account in the following scenarios:
- To pay for your flights, once protected by our supplier failure cover
- To pay partners who have their own ATOL licence, in which case your trip is fully covered by our partner’s ATOL
- To pay for any other element of your trip, once protected by our supplier failure cover
- When you’ve returned from your holiday having received all the services you booked
In a nutshell, this means that your money is secure until either you’ve been on your trip, or for whatever reason you’ve received a refund.
Do I even need travel insurance then?
The financial protection we provide is 100%, but this doesn’t help you if you’re ill, you have an accident, or your trip is impacted by any other extenuating circumstances.
That’s what travel insurance is for, and it’s a term of our service that you must have travel insurance if you’re booking with packed. It’s your responsibility to ensure the cover you take out is sufficient for the trip you’re booking.
The FCO ruled against all but essential travel on the 23rd March.
This advice has now been lifted for an extensive list of destinations. This is significant because most insurance policies won't cover you for COVID-related claims and may not cover you at all if the FCO advises against travel to your destination.
The FCO advice is under constant review and there remains a chance that it will change where destinations experience a flare up in infections. We therefore strongly advise our customers to choose booking terms that include a “COVID-clause” so that you can claim your money back if this happens.
The travel industry is having to be more flexible than ever. There are big-name examples of providers offering free cancellation terms, in some cases right up to the day before travel. We'll always offer you this option and recommend it’s taken when available.
Most airlines are offering free flight changes up to 14 days before you travel, too. Just bear in mind that the terms travel providers offer vary. So if you would like the option of free cancellation, all aspects of the trip should be booked on that basis.
Having said that, if for example, you book a villa with free cancellation terms and then you decide to cancel, you could cancel the villa and move the flights.
This is a complicated time for travel and things are changing all the time.
We’ll keep this document up to date (check the last updated date at the top of the post) and if you have any questions about a booking you’re making with us, or if you’d like some independent advice on something else you’re about to book, please don’t hesitate to ask, we’ll be very happy to help.