Just got back from a few days abroad. Like most people, I was stressed about the airport situation, but my fears turned out to be unfounded. I was at the gate in 25 minutes.
It’s more down to luck than special treatment, but I would say to people planning a trip that picking a weekday lunchtime time slot, particularly from Terminal 2, when possible will make a big difference to queue times seems to.
However, so much has changed and changed when it comes to travel that this week I’m looking at what to look out for when booking your first vacation in maybe two years or more. While much of the tourism industry has been kept afloat by government support, bookings are reported to be busier than ever and that means prices are higher than ever.
We’re all looking for a bargain, but buying a holiday costs enough without losing it to poor planning or worse, cheating. Here’s what you need to know:
Many airlines are reporting difficulties retaining staff due to Covid. This resulted in a number of (mainly UK) airlines canceling dozens of flights.
Others are not yet up to speed, so flight mergers are common. If you are affected, you should be informed in good time. The Aviation Inspectorate (flightrights.ie) has consumer-friendly laws on delayed and canceled flights, and if your flight changes you may be entitled to compensation (see board) in addition to mandatory free transfers and airport assistance while you wait.
Delays are commonplace and a part of traveler life. However, if they are lengthy or cause you to cancel connecting connections, there is compensation.
Airlines must provide you with information and alternatives at all times before and during the delay or cancellation. Remember, if you let them do all the work, you will no longer be charged for switching to another flight. But if you decide to get a ticket refund, then you’re on your own afterwards.
The strongest advice out there is to avoid booking through third party agencies rather than through properly tied travel agents. Many of them are based in the UK or beyond and your consumer rights may not be the same as here or elsewhere in the EU.
In any case, even with legitimate sites that seem to have good bargains, you can often find out by clicking on a social media link/ad or after comparing prices on trawler sites like Skyscanner, eBookers or Trivago and clicking on an offer If something goes wrong and you have to cancel it can be next to impossible to get your money back.
Pat Dawson of the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA), known as OTAs (online travel agents), advises: “All Irish travel agents, whether online or in-store, are licensed by the Commission for Aviation Regulation and operate under the EU Package Travel Directive that offers excellent consumer protection. When you book a holiday through an online travel agency, you need to know where it is based and which country issued its license to trade as a travel agency.
Just because they have a dot ie website or Irish phone number doesn’t mean they are based in Ireland and subject to our rules. The consumer must be aware that the rule of law of the country where the travel agent or tour operator is registered is the applicable law when a dispute arises.”
Bookings made through sites like Airbnb and Booking.com come with certain customer protections, but they are still seller-to-buyer sites; it is therefore not a travel agent in the usual legal sense.
Ireland has lifted all travel restrictions, including Covid testing and passenger tracing forms, but that’s not the case for all EU countries and certainly not the US.
The best way to check local requirements is to check the Department of Foreign Affairs guide (www.dfa.ie/travel) or the EU’s reopen.europa.eu, both of which are regularly updated.
It has never been more important to be properly insured. The good news is that all travel insurers are now offering Covid insurance if you have to cancel or are stuck due to the pandemic.
An annual policy for multiple trips is best (and also cheapest); You can insure a family of 4 for EU travel for around €50-100.
While private health insurance can cover medical treatment abroad, it is not travel insurance; It does not pay for a companion’s hotel or reimburse you if your luggage is lost.
Make sure you take out insurance cover at least 14 days prior to travel to be fully covered and have your European Health Insurance Card valid and with you (ehic.ie). It’s free and ensures you get emergency care abroad when you need it.
Passports may be out of date since the last time you needed one. So check if it is still valid.
The quickest way to renew is online (passportonline.dfa.ie). It costs €75 for an adult 10 year old and €35 for a 5 year old pass card, with a ten discount for both.
If you are informed of a flight cancellation more than 14 days in advance, you can opt for a free rebooking or a refund of the ticket.
For cancellations notified within 14 days of departure, you are entitled to a transfer to the next available flight at an alternative time and refreshments when you are at the airport. Compensation is also due if the diverted flight lands you more than 2-4 hours (depending on the distance) late, unless the airline can prove “extraordinary circumstances” such as fog, sudden strike, etc. If you choose a ticket refund, the airline has no further obligation to you, so choose carefully!
Your right to compensation depends on the distance to your destination and the hours of the delay.
For flights less than 1,500 km, a delay of more than 2 hours is €250.
For flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km, a delay of more than 3 hours is €400.
For long distances over 3,500 and more than 4 hours delay 600 €.
All of this is in addition to the airline rebooking and offering of “care and attention” which may include transfers and hotel accommodation during the delay.
If you make a claim, never do it through a third-party company. They take part of your money and the form is easy to fill out.
https://www.independent.ie/business/personal-finance/how-to-protect-your-long-awaited-holiday-from-delays-illness-41557832.html How to protect your long-awaited vacation from delays, illness