Categories
Travel

Full list of repatriation flights available to stranded Britons amid coronavirus lockdown

The coronavirus pandemic has triggered large-scale lockdowns around the world as infection rates have soared.

With borders closing at short notice, tens of thousands of Britons have been left stranded abroad with few options when it comes to getting home as flights dwindle.

It’s made harder by countries and regions that are barring transit passengers from entering.

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Fortunately, a number of repatriation flights are now available for those who are stranded. There are also new details of getting alerts for any flights that may be arranged in the coming days.

Here’s a full list.

Slovakia

The airports of Bratislava, Kosice and Poprad have stopped regular scheduled passenger flights.

A commercial charter company, Charter Advisory, is offering tickets on flights out of Slovakia to UK nationals. The FCO advises: “Please note these are NOT UK government organised flights, and all arrangements are between passengers and the company concerned. Please note the conditions of carriage carefully.

“It is the operator which decides who boards and who is eligible. Anyone travelling must have appropriate and valid identity documents for the UK. We understand that seats on the flights are offered on a first come, first served basis.”

Upcoming flights can be found on the comany’s Facebook page, in Czech only.

Latvia

With the exception of some land crossings, Latvia has closed all of its borders.

There are currently limited “exceptional commercial flights” from Riga to London Gatwick scheduled for 25, 26 and 27 March. British nationals have been advised to check the Air Baltic website for details.

Greece

Direct flights between the UK and Greece have been suspended until 15 April. However, you can still find indirect flights home.

The FCO advises contacting the British Embassy in Athens if you need additional help.

UAE

The UAE stopped all flights as of midnight 24 March.

There are no repatriation flights at present, but the FCO has advised UK nationals to contact their airlines so “any demand is logged”.

Those who are stranded in the Emirates and are in difficulty should contact the British Embassy on [email protected] You should include your full name, passport number, visa status (resident or tourist), contact details and your particular circumstances. 

Jordan

On 16 March, Jordan closed all of its borders, both land and sea.

The UK government is currently working out the possibility of a commercial flight out of Jordan, to Doha, with Qatar Airways. From there, you will need to book separate tickets to the UK. The FCO said this will be in the range of 1,599 JOD (£1,900).

The FCO said: “In line with the FCO Travel Advice of 23 March, British nationals who have travelled to Jordan and who now find themselves without travel options to return home are the priority for places on this flight.

“If you are in this category and interested in purchasing a ticket on this flight, please send a copy of your passport biodata and visa stamp pages to [email protected] by 8am on 25 March. The Embassy will then reply on 25 March with further details. You cannot purchase tickets for this flight through other means.”

Kuwait

Flights in and out of Kuwait have been suspended since 13 March.

There may be flights to London with Kuwait Airways from 26 March, and the FCO has advised British nationals hoping to leave to contact the airline’s call centre on 171 or or send the passenger name and nationality via WhatsApp to 00965 22200171.

For the latest updates on the flights, British nationals have also been advised to follow the British Embassy in Kuwait’s Twitter account.

Top: Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Bottom: Charles Bridge, Prague

Grand Mosque, Mecca

2/20 Grand Mosque, Mecca

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

3/20 Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Nabi Younes market, Mosul

4/20 Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Basra Grand Mosque, Iraq

5/20 Basra Grand Mosque, Iraq

Charles Bridge, Prague

6/20 Charles Bridge, Prague

Taj Mahal hotel, India

7/20 Taj Mahal hotel, India

Dubai Mall, UAE

8/20 Dubai Mall, UAE

Beirut March, Lebanon

9/20 Beirut March, Lebanon

Gateway of India, Mumbai

10/20 Gateway of India, Mumbai

Cairo University, Egypt

11/20 Cairo University, Egypt

Amman Citadel, Jordan

12/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

13/20 Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

Beirut March, Lebanon

14/20 Beirut March, Lebanon

Cairo, Egypt

15/20 Cairo, Egypt

Cairo University, Egypt

16/20 Cairo University, Egypt

Victoria Memorial, India

17/20 Victoria Memorial, India

Amman Citadel, Jordan

18/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

Amman Citadel, Jordan

19/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

Sidon, Lebanon

20/20 Sidon, Lebanon

1/20

Top: Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Bottom: Charles Bridge, Prague

Grand Mosque, Mecca

2/20 Grand Mosque, Mecca

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

3/20 Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Nabi Younes market, Mosul

4/20 Nabi Younes market, Mosul

Basra Grand Mosque, Iraq

5/20 Basra Grand Mosque, Iraq

Charles Bridge, Prague

6/20 Charles Bridge, Prague

Taj Mahal hotel, India

7/20 Taj Mahal hotel, India

Dubai Mall, UAE

8/20 Dubai Mall, UAE

Beirut March, Lebanon

9/20 Beirut March, Lebanon

Gateway of India, Mumbai

10/20 Gateway of India, Mumbai

Cairo University, Egypt

11/20 Cairo University, Egypt

Amman Citadel, Jordan

12/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

13/20 Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem

Beirut March, Lebanon

14/20 Beirut March, Lebanon

Cairo, Egypt

15/20 Cairo, Egypt

Cairo University, Egypt

16/20 Cairo University, Egypt

Victoria Memorial, India

17/20 Victoria Memorial, India

Amman Citadel, Jordan

18/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

Amman Citadel, Jordan

19/20 Amman Citadel, Jordan

Sidon, Lebanon

20/20 Sidon, Lebanon

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan has suspended all flights in and out of the country. However, the Uzbek Government has organised two flights from Tashkent to Munich, which are due to depart during the week commencing 23 March.

The FCO has not released the details of the flights but British nationals hoping to get a seat on the flight are advised to contact Uzbekistan Airways by email on [email protected]

India

While the FCO has advised British nationals in India to be prepared to wait until commercial flights are available, it has said those who want to leave should get in touch with their details.

It said: “If you are a British national who is currently visiting India and you wish to return urgently to the UK, please email [email protected] Please include your full name (and the names of any family members with you), date/s of birth for all named family members), your passport number, visa status and contact details, including your exact location in India.

“Please confirm your date of arrival in India and details of the return flight that you had planned to take back to the UK. Please also inform us if you have any special circumstances such as a medical condition we may need to be aware of.”

Pakistan

All international flights to Pakistan have been suspended until 4 April, which would also impact outgoing flights.

However, despite the ban, Qatar Airways is planning to operate daily flights from the country between 25 March and 3 April, according to the FCO. Other airlines may also be planning one-off flights out of the country in the coming days.

Nepal

All international flights to and from Nepal have been suspended until 31 March.

British nationals who are stranded in the country have been told to email [email protected] with their name, passport number, email address and phone number. The UK government is working on possible flights out of the country and will be in touch if they are successful.

New Zealand

International flights in and out of New Zealand are being suspended after the country declared a Level 4 (its highest) alert over coronavirus.

UK nationals have been advised to contact their airline, travel provider, and insurance company for the latest information. The British High Commission has also released a contact form where you can leave your details to be contacted regarding any upcoming flights as well as details of the lockdown in the country.

Argentina

There are now no direct flights between Argentina and the UK, although you can still get home via another country. However, international flights are only departing from Buenos Aires at the moment. 

Aerolíneas Argentinas is operating some domestic flights from tourist areas to the Argentine capital. You can also drive, get a taxi or use public transport.

However, as well as your passport and proof of a booked flight, the FCO advises you carry a copy of the letter issued by the Ministry of Tourism confirming that foreign nationals are exempt from the quarantine if they are travelling to return to their country of origin and a letter issued from the British Embassy confirming that you should be allowed to travel. If you are met with any resistance while trying to access the airport, you should contact the British Embassy on +54 11 4808-2200.

Peru

Peru closed all borders from 16 March for 15 days, initially. There’s a flight ban to and from Asia and Europe from 16 March for 30 days.

The UK government is currently working on securing flights home for those who are stranded. British nationals who want to leave should contact [email protected] with their full name, location and best form of contact (ideally email address). 

If flights become available, those who have logged their details will be contacted. Details will also be posted to Twitter and Facebook.

Panama

Commercial airlines have ceased operating from Panama until 22 April. Some exceptional flights may become available and the FCO has advised British nationals to contact airlines directly.

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic has suspended all international flights. There are some limited “ferry flights” to repatriate foreign nationals.

The last direct flight to the UK from the Caribbean island has already departed but the FCO advises that Britons can transit via the US or Canada to get home, provided they meet all the criteria.

Egypt

All flights in and out of Egypt are currently suspended.

Any possible repatriation flights will be shared on the British Embassy in Cairo’s Twitter and Facebook accounts.

Kenya

Kenya is suspending all international flights from 11.59pm local time on 25 March.

British Airways is operating a small number of additional flights from Nairobi to the UK, which are bookable via the BA website.

The alternative is a Kenya Airways flight to Amsterdam, available for EU and British nationals, at 10pm local time on 25 March. Contact Kenya Airways on +254 741 131 526 or [email protected] for bookings. You will then need to book separate transport home to the UK from Amsterdam.

Senegal

The flight ban in Senegal has been in place since 20 March.

For UK nationals wishing to leave, the FCO has said any outbound flights will be posted to the British Embassy in Dakar’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

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Categories
Cruises

Dire coronavirus news not killing travel to safe places

Despite all the conference cancellations, colleges going
online, businesses grounding travel and growing consumer fears of Covid-19,
there remained bright spots in the travel industry last week, with advisors and
suppliers reporting that many clients are continuing with spring break and
other travel plans.

That was particularly true of bookings to the Americas, the
Caribbean and other destinations with few or no cases of the virus yet
reported.

“People are definitely still traveling,” said Daniela
Harrison, with Avenues of the World Travel in Flagstaff, Ariz. 

“We have a lot of South America, specifically Ecuador and
Peru, and Australia-New Zealand itineraries this spring [on which clients are]
all traveling,” she said. “May is high season for river cruises, and so far
everyone is still planning on traveling, especially on the Danube and Rhine.”

Advisors and tour operators alike reported a spike in
bookings to the Americas, particularly national parks, the Canadian Rockies and
Hawaii. Less anticipated hot spots were Greece and even Russia.

Jeff Roy, executive vice president of the global tour
operator Collette, said, “I don’t necessarily see this overwhelming fear for
going overseas.”

Still, as the outbreak spread, there have been predictions
that the fallout for U.S. tourism will be worse than SARS and possibly as bad
as post-9/11.

In that period following the Sept. 11 attacks, Roy said,
Collette refunded up to $30 million under its self-administered flexible travel
insurance policies. “We’re still here 20 years later. Honestly, what we’re
seeing is more of a preference to defer some travel as opposed to outright
canceling.”

Roy and others said that even Italy, which locked down its
entire country, continues to book strong for later in the year and 2021. And
Collette, which just reintroduced Russia, was seeing a boom in sales for that
product, Roy said.

Still, the National Tour Association reported last week that
in a survey of its members, more than 55% of 104 tour operator respondents
reported cancellations as of March 6. And travel advisors continued to be
swamped with client questions and requests for cancellations and rebookings.

Geoff Millar, co-owner of Ultimate All-Inclusive Travel and
Ultimate Hawaii Vacations in Gilbert, Ariz., said, “I think cruises and
certainly Asia and Europe are being hit more than anything else. So it’s
affecting more the people that do the FIT-type travel. Those who are doing
packages to the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii, I think you’re going to find that
they haven’t been hit that much at all.”

Millar said he’d only had one coronavirus-related
cancellation, even though as of last week he had close to 1,000 people
traveling, about 40% to Hawaii and 60% to Mexico and the Caribbean. Hawaii
sales, in particular, have been up, he reported.

Global Rescue, the Boston-based travel evacuation
and security firm, said a recent survey of 500 of its members  —  among the world’s most experienced travelers  —  revealed that 86% were concerned about the
virus, but 89% still planned to travel.

Global Rescue CEO Dan Richards said, “Nearly 60% of our
members say they are not changing their travel plans due to coronavirus, about
16% are taking a wait-and-see approach, 8% are postponing and 4% have canceled
trips.”

Advisors, however, said many clients were looking at what
they consider safer alternatives.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of cancellations and postponed
trips,” said Vicky Garcia, COO and co-owner of Cruise Planners. “But there is a
spiked interest in close-to-home travel. People still want to go on vacation,
they’re just opting to travel via car.”

AAA Travel was planning to try to capitalize on that trend,
with senior vice president Paula Twidale issuing a statement that said in part,
“Adjusting marketing plans to support travel closer to home with destinations
in the U.S. and Canada, including national parks and Alaska, is a focus.”

Meanwhile, tour operators reported that demand for foreign
travel was still strong for later in the year and in 2021.

“We are noticing that guests seem to be less nervous about
committing to travel farther out,” said Jon Grutzner, president of Insight
Vacations and Luxury Gold. This year, he said, “We released our 2021 Preview
Collection earlier than ever before … because of the large volume of demand
from our guests, offering them the opportunity to get the best prices and
travel with peace of mind.”

Insight said its top-trending destinations were, in order of
popularity, national parks in the U.S. and Canada; South America, particularly
Peru; Hawaii; the U.K. and Ireland; Spain and Portugal; and the eastern
Mediterranean, including Greece and Croatia.

Trafalgar president Melissa DaSilva said the company
continued to get new bookings in addition to requests to reschedule. Since Feb.
18, she said, 57% of those bookings were to Europe, both for 2020 and 2021
travel. Of those, Ireland and Great Britain made up roughly half. And 32% of
the new bookings, she said, were for North America trips, primarily to national
parks. 

Brownell Travel affiliate Marion McDonald estimated that 30%
to 40% of her clients had canceled, but she added that many were still traveling.

“The spring breakers, they’re going,” she said. 

Like others, McDonald said popular destinations are the
Caribbean, Mexico and the Canadian Rockies.

One silver lining, she added, is Puerto Rico, which is
recovering after being hit by major earthquakes last year.

“I’m really hoping that this will be the boost Puerto Rico
needs,” McDonald said, “because not only is it Caribbean, it is also still a
bargain somewhat because they’re still rebuilding. And no passport required.”

Monica Iannacone, owner of Weekend Navigators in Tampa, said
she’d had requests for travel in the U.S. but that most travelers were
inquiring about all-inclusive travel in the Caribbean.

“We’re finding that those who want to travel and get away in
the Caribbean are booking now to lock in the rates for later this year and next
year,” she said.

Angel Wilson, travel advisor and owner of Dream Journeys in
Indianapolis, which specializes in Hawaii and the Caribbean, said most of her
clients “are hanging in there.”

She, on the other hand, has been personally affected by the
crisis. Her mother and daughter were supposed to join her on a Princess Cruises
sailing to Japan for spring break, but the cruise was canceled. She searched
for other options, but none fit her spring break dates. 

So she and her family are instead flying to Hawaii. She said
she still plans to cruise to Japan as soon as she can.
___

Jamie Biesiada and Nancy Trejos contributed to this report.

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Categories
Travel

Man takes off trousers at airport after electronic device catches fire

A man was forced to strip down to his pants at the airport after an electronic device in his pocket caught fire.

Lwando Mashiamahle, 29, was waiting for his girlfriend, who was queuing to buy a plane ticket, when a powerbank in his trouser pocket overheated and burst into flames.

The incident was captured on CCTV at OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa.

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Footage shows Mashiamahle sitting down before a flash indicates the device has burst into flames.

He immediately jumps up and takes off his trousers while passengers waiting in line quickly back away.

“It felt quite hot in my pocket but I thought it was normal, like sometimes your phone heats up when you’re using it, but I never thought it could explode,” he told News24.

“I was so shocked, I didn’t know what to do, I automatically just lost my mind. I was very, very scared.”

He added: “Fortunately I have no injuries but my pants were burnt and I had to quickly find the nearest shop to buy a new pair.“

It’s not the first time an electronic device has caused havoc for a passenger.

In February 2020, a plane had to make an emergency landing when a phone battery caught fire mid-flight.

United Airlines flight 1456, flying from Newark to Nassau, Bahamas, had to make an emergency landing at Daytona Beach Airport in Florida.

The battery fire was contained in the passenger’s bag and placed in a fireproof case after catching fire, the airport confirmed on Twitter.

It shared an image of the charred phone battery and a charger cable lying on the airport tarmac.

“United flight 1456, operating from Newark to Nassau, diverted to Daytona Beach due to a thermal runaway event onboard,” said a United spokesperson. 

“Emergency personnel met the aircraft and customers remained onboard prior to the aircraft re-departing for Nassau. We appreciate the quick work of our employees on board to keep our customers and fellow employees safe.”

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