Resolver’s consumer rights expert Martyn James has gone through all the things you need to know before flying abroad this summer – from passport delays to Covid rules…
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The holidays are back!
But before you rush to book some much-missed time in the sun, there’s a whole new set of things to consider since your last international jet.
I’ve been inundated with complaints from people struggling with booking issues, voucher issues, passport issues and more.
The fact is there are many things to consider when booking a holiday these days – including price hikes and Covid rules for your destination.
Here’s my guide on what to look out for to make sure you’re not left out of your pocket.
There were so many things for vacationers to worry about that one of the most obvious issues was forgotten.
The Passport Office has been hit with an enormous demand resulting in long delays in issuing your passport.
Now many of us may be thinking that we still have a year before the renewal deadline. There’s just a twist…
When the UK left the European Union, there were some advantages we had as a member state that no longer apply.
One of these benefits relates to the expiry date of your passport.
If you applied for an early extension of your passport, the rules allowed the UK Passport Office to add on the extra months you would have lost.
So if you had eight months left on your passport, that means your expiration date would be ten years and eight months from the date of renewal.
However, that small benefit has disappeared after Brexit and the EU now looks to the issue date rather than the expiration date when letting you in.
In addition, your passport must have three months to expire based on the date you leave the country you are visiting.
Confused? Most people are.
Imagine leaving Spain on June 1st, 2022. Your passport must be issued after September 1st, 2022 or you may be denied boarding by the airline if you go on holiday.
Even if your passport says it expires in June 2023, the date of issue matters.
Although complaints about refunds have dominated in recent years, many people have accepted vouchers in lieu of travel, believing we could soon get away with it.
The majority of airlines I spoke to were extending their voucher expiries to accommodate the fact that holidays were not ‘bookable’ – but be warned these vouchers could be close to expiring.
In many cases, people have reported voucher expirations without a clear reminder from an airline or travel company.
Before you book, log in and find the coupons, find out how to use them then and when in the booking process – and ask about other quirks.
I recently discovered that one major airline only allows you to use one voucher per booking – and if you try to book separate flights you can only book in the currency that the voucher is in.
Restrictions may have ended in the UK but Covid rules still apply in many countries around the world.
Some countries are still effectively closed to holidaymakers so find out before you book.
The rise of the highly contagious Omicron variant means that not only can Covid ruin your last-minute holiday plans, but it can drastically reduce the number of airline staff, airport security and baggage handlers.
So it doesn’t hurt to ask beforehand if you can get a refund or reschedule if your holiday doesn’t go ahead.
Also, check with the hotel or apartment if you need to move your dates.
Airport queues and flight cancellations
Before the pandemic, complaints about flight delays and cancellations regularly topped Resolver’s “Most Complaints” list, with hundreds of thousands of complaints.
Although the government has announced that some changes may be made to the rules after Brexit, for the time being they are more or less the same. I have a brand new guide here.
The main concern for many people is when you might be able to get compensation.
If your airline was able to foresee the problem, they usually have to compensate you.
This includes technical problems – or even employee strikes.
If the situation gets out of control, like an air traffic control strike, then you probably won’t do it.
In the last few months we have experienced airport chaos where people could not get through security or check-in due to huge queues.
We’ll have to see how the airlines deal with this because, in theory, the situation is the responsibility of the airport.
Most airlines seem to allow people to rebook, but make sure you (nicely) make some noise if you’re waiting in line and running out of time.
Oh, and don’t forget that the old rules about liquids still apply.
Airport officials have told me that carry-on searches are increasing dramatically as people forget what they can and can’t pack.
Price hikes are back
During lockdown, many of the pesky extra charges that airlines and tour operators could levy have been suspended.
But many of them are back – and the only way to know for sure what you might be paying is to do some research before booking.
By far the biggest source of teeth gnashing is the cost of changing a booking, from moving it to correcting typos.
Unfortunately, airlines can charge these fees, which means you need to be absolutely sure of your dates and details before you book.
Airlines learned before the pandemic that people exceeding carry-on baggage allowances were wasting time and money because of problems getting everyone on the plane and stowing items in overhead bins.
Bag size and weight restrictions are much tighter now, so get out that tape measure or face a hefty fee at check-in.
Also, be aware of the ever-rising seat charges, as some legroom options cost £50.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/five-things-watch-out-before-26894883 The expert lists 5 things to watch out for before heading on holiday amid passport delays