Latest travel updates on summer travel: When can I travel overseas? How to get a refund if I can’t travel? These, and lots more of your frequently asked questions, answered here.
I have a strange feeling of déjà vu. I recall writing a similar post regarding travel updates on summer travel in April 2020. Little did we know we would find ourselves in the same situation, wondering when we will be able to travel overseas, and what to do with the holidays that we have booked for this year.
I have received many questions from readers looking for the latest travel updates on summer travel, and asking when I think we will be able to travel again. The truth is, no one can answer that question with any degree of certainty. However, things are looking more positive with the introduction of the Digital Green Certificate. I have answered your most common travel queries below, and included an update of Ireland’s current position on international travel.
What is Ireland’s current position on overseas travel?
- There is a Government Advisory in place against all non-essential international travel, with fines of €500 issued for those caught travelling overseas for non-essential reasons.
- A negative PCR test is required for all visitors coming into Ireland that has been taken within 72 hours of arrival. Visitors from Northern Ireland, essential workers and children under six are exempt – more information visit Gov.ie.
- Mandatory hotel quarantine has been introduced for arrivals who have been in any high risk country in the previous 14 days, or who fail to produce a negative PCR test on arrival. This list of countries is subject to change and will be updated here.
- Arrivals from all other countries have to self-quarantine at home for 14 days, but may exit quarantine with a negative or ‘not detected’ PCR test taken 5 days following their arrival at the earliest.
How long with mandatory quarantine remain in place?
The government have indicated that mandatory hotel quarantine is a temporary measure, however it is likely to remain in place as long as the the more transmissible variants remain a threat to public health. Countries may be removed off the’ high risk’ list as soon as the epidemiological situation in those countries is no longer a concern.
Israel, St Lucia and Albania which were initially listed as high risk countries, were removed off our quarantine list within weeks. Hopefully more countries will follow suit and we will find ourselves in a similar situation to last summer, where we don’t have to quarantine upon return from ‘Green List’ countries or countries deemed as ‘low risk’ as per the EU Traffic Light system for travel.
Will we need to be vaccinated in order to travel?
This will depend on the country you wish to visit. Some countries such as Australia, New Zealand etc are still closed to visitors, other countries and cruise lines will only accept vaccinated visitors. However, many countries will accept visitors who provide a negative PCR test taken no less than 72 hours before arrival. Travel within the EU looks likely to be less restrictive with the implementation of the Digital Green Certificate.
If you are travelling to a country from a country that has a very low level of Covid, and is considered a low risk, a test may not be required. However, the incidence rate would not be measured until close to your departure date. It is best to assume that a negative test or vaccination will be required if planning on travelling overseas this summer.
What is the Digital Green Certificate, and will this be required for travel?
The Digital Green Certificate is aimed at facilitating quarantine free travel within the EU, and is planned to be in place in June. The aim is to allow free movement of people in Europe by proving that a person has a negative test result, been fully vaccinated, or has recovered from Covid-19. See more here. EU member states have up to six weeks to implement it.
When will the advice against non-essential travel be lifted?
Until recently we received no indication from government when this advice is likely to change, however senior government ministers have indicated ( 22nd April 2021) that if the Digital Green Certificate is in place, then travel within the EU will be permitted. This could mean the advice will change for travel to EU countries from as early as late July – no longer than 6 weeks from the date the Digital Green Certificate is introduced.
Ryanair recently announced new routes to Rhodes from Dublin airport and Corfu from Shannon airport – clearly thinking that summer travel would be permitted to countries like Greece where the epidemiological situation is not a concern.
One thing that we do know is that measures can change at any time, so planning to travel without flexible booking options is not recommended at present. Keep an eye on this post where I will have the latest travel updates on summer travel.
What happens if I don’t want to travel and my flight is still operating?
400,000 people who transferred their summer 2020 holidays to this year are eagerly awaiting the latest travel updates on summer travel. The reply to this question depends on the airline, hotel or travel agency that you booked with. Some airlines are happy to change your booking for free, or offer a voucher, others will charge you for the privilege.
In general terms, if a flight or holiday is cancelled you ARE entitled to a refund, if you decide you don’t want to travel, but the flight is operating, you are NOT entitled to a refund.
Airlines will contact you by email if they are cancelling your flight. I suggest waiting until closer to the departure date, and to keep an eye on this post for the latest travel updates on summer travel, to if your flight is cancelled. If the flight is cancelled you will receive a refund, if not, you will have have to change departure dates.
What happens if I booked with a travel agency and I don’t want to travel?
Irish travel agencies have been working tirelessly since the start of the pandemic to help their clients re-book holidays and get refunds if required. The Irish government backed a new refund credit note that can be used by travel agents and tour operators to give to customers instead of a refund if required.
These credit notes will be guaranteed by the state in the event that the travel agent or tour operator ceases trading. It will be issued with a future redeemable date (usually 6 months), and on that date it can be exchanged for its cash, or can be used to book another holiday.
Package holidays booked with a travel agency or tour operator come under the EU Directive on Package Holiday and Linked Travel Arrangements, where you have the right to cancel your booking in the event of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances. This is one of the many benefits of booking a holiday with a travel agency.
However, the standard policies that have applied for years with regard to cancellations and refunds were not designed to be used in these times. We need to be mindful that in many cases travel agencies are still waiting for refunds back from airlines or hoteliers, so it may take longer than expected to receive your refund.
I am booked to fly abroad with Ryanair during the summer, can I change my flight for free?
Ryanair have different policies in place, depending on when the initial booking was made. New bookings made before 30th June 2021 to travel before 31st October 2021 are permitted two free changes for travel before 31st October 2021. Changes must be made 7 days before the original scheduled dates to avail of this. As with any airfare or holiday booked, if the fare associated with new flight dates is more expensive than the original fare, the customer must pay any difference.
Note: For anyone who booked before 10th June 2020, standard change fees apply.
I received a voucher from Ryanair, can I exchange it for cash now?
Ryanair have been allowing passengers who booked directly on the Ryanair website the ability to change their voucher for cash, as long as they haven’t officially accepted the voucher. If you have received an email with a voucher, but have not accepted it, you should be able to exchange it for cash by filling out this form. However Ryanair have updated their website to say that
“Once a reimbursement voucher has been accepted, the claim for reimbursement has been fully and finally settled.”
Read: How to get a refund from Ryanair
I am due to fly with Aer Lingus this summer, can I get a refund?
If your flight is cancelled you can apply for a refund using this form. If your flight is not cancelled you can change your flight, regardless of when it was booked, for free, before 31st December.
If you have accepted an Aer Lingus voucher, you cannot apply for a refund. However, Aer Lingus vouchers are valid for five years.
I have booked a FLIGHT via a travel agency and have not got my refund yet.
I understand that in most cases travel agencies have refunded their customers where possible. However, Ryanair are refusing to refund travel agencies directly and are asking customers to fill out Customer Verification Forms to receive their refund.
EU regulation 261 specifically states that any flight contract is between the passenger and the airline. You do not need to go via your travel agent to request a refund. You can contact your airline directly, and if they will not engage with you, or will not offer you a refund, you can make a complaint to the Commission of Aviation regulation, and they will take up the case on your behalf.
Note: You will need to prove that you have tried to seek a refund from your airline and they are refusing to deal with you. Note EU-261 only applies to the flight contract, not hotel costs, transfers etc.
I have a package holiday booked with TUI in July and and I don’t know if it will operate
TUI are allowing free changes on all package holidays departing up to the end of July 2021. Their summer schedule is still currently operating, but if the advice against non-essential travel remains in place, TUI holidays will be cancelled. TUI have committed to only travel to countries that don’t require you to quarantine when you arrive, once you have a negative Covid-19 test, and offer a full refund if any holidays need to be cancelled due to travel restrictions.
I am due to travel in July or August and am unsure whether to pay the balance of my holiday
Despite most booking conditions stating that balances are due 10 weeks before departure, few travel companies are adhering to this rule. Most tour operators and travel agencies have adapted flexible policies and few are actively chasing balance payments. I have not heard of any bookings being cancelled due to lack of payment.
However, if you do not pay your balance by the due date, you are technically breaking your contract. It is important to keep in close contact with your agent who will be aware of the latest travel updates. Advise them of your position and try to wait to see if the flights are cancelled closer to the departure time.
What can I do if I still haven’t received a refund from a cancelled holiday / flight ?
If you have been trying to source a refund from your airline or travel company since 2020 and are still awaiting a response, you can make a complaint to the Commission of Aviation regulation and they will take up the case on your behalf. You will need to prove that you applied for a refund and it has not been forthcoming.
Listen to our exclusive interview with Air Passenger Rights Manager Sarah Fischer, she tells us how to get a refund if your flight is cancelled.
For more information visit:
Note: This post – travel updates on summer travel will be updated regularly, but travel advice and updates are changing on a daily basis. It is important to check with the company / airline you are booking with, and the Department of Foreign Affairs before taking any steps to cancel or travel abroad.