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Cruises

Travel Leaders Salutes Its Travel Heroes

This National Travel Advisor Day, Travel Leaders is recognizing the heroes of the industry who work around the clock, seven days a week, across all international time zones, assisting clients with their travel concerns.

Travel Leaders’ 65,000 advisors continue to serve travelers during these confusing, volatile and unpredictable times and the group is sharing some of their heroic stories.

“In the entire history of our industry there has never been a more fitting time to celebrate National Travel Advisor Day to thank travel advisors for going above and beyond caring for their clients every single day,” said Travel Leaders Group J.D. O’Hara. “Travel advisors are the calm to the fears of a worried public, guiding clients all while facing extreme challenges to their own businesses as they sought assistance to keep their employees working so they can continue to be a lifeline to travelers all over the world.”

Travel Leaders and its companies, including ALTOUR, Andrew Harper, Protravel International, Tzell Travel Group, Nexion Travel Group and Travel Leaders Network are saluting agents who saved the day during the coronavirus outbreak.

Jody Bear, Tzell Travel

“Before the coronavirus travel ban went into effect, my clients were in Zurich on their way to Athens via a connecting flight through Rome. They contacted me when their Rome-to-Athens flight was canceled. Although they booked their flights using travel rewards through an online booking engine, I was happy to assist them. I advised they should avoid flying through Rome because of the ban. I rerouted them through London and they were able to get back to the U.S., literally, hours before the United Kingdom travel ban went into effect.”

Kurt Crowl, Travel Leaders Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, Florida.

“We worked with a local university to get their students who were studying abroad back to the U.S. With one student who was studying in Zambia, they experienced flight cancellation after cancellation through Europe. We eventually got the student home to Miami via Sao Paulo.

Another college student was stranded in Peru when the borders closed in March. Working through several options with charter flights, we were able to get the student back into the U.S. All of the students are now home.”

Hilary Chivian, Travel Leaders branch of Tzell, Norwich, Connecticut

I had a 17-year-old client, Matt, studying abroad in Croatia with Rotary International. Matt’s parent had reached out to me on March 30 and decided it was time to bring Matt home as he just had an emergency appendectomy. Later that day, I had found him flights and reissued his ticket and he was all set…or so we thought.

On Saturday, April 4, I received a panicked email from Matt’s dad that his flight from Zagreb had been canceled and there was nothing else operating on that Sunday. I spent the next two hours on the phone with several airlines trying to find something else for an unaccompanied minor that would not have transfers in Amsterdam. I booked him on the only flight out that day and it was a forced overnight in Frankfurt. I was able to get him on a flight from Frankfurt to Atlanta. Finally, on the 10th of April, Matt was able to get home to his parents.

Tiffany Bowne, All Star Travel Group, a branch of Tzell Travel Group

I worked with a family that was set to go to Walt Disney World and just before their arrival, Disney World announced the closure of the park. My client is CEO of a large company out of Dallas and instead, he chose to take his family on a driving trip the next morning to the Florida panhandle. I was able to find an alternate trip for them to take quickly while at the same time, I was working on the refund of their experiences and Disney package.

Tim Klopfenstein, Travel Leaders in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

During the early days of the coronavirus crisis, before the current travel restrictions, I received a call from travelers—three families (13 travelers in all)—who were not clients and they were panicked that their cruise had been canceled while they were driving to New Orleans for the Caribbean cruise during spring break. Within an hour, I helped them detour to Mexico. They meet me in our Coralville office since they weren’t too far away. An hour and a half later, all three families were re-booked at the Hard Rock Los Cabos hotel with flights.

“Tim was able to support travelers who were previously not clients of our agency in their time of need,” said owner Duane Jasper. “One member of the family did not realize that a passport book and a passport card are not the same thing. Upon booking, Tim confirmed with all families and they all assured him that they had a passport valid for at least six months upon return. The individual with only a passport card was unable to check in. Tim did not waver. He connected the client to the nearest passport office in Chicago and they were able to fly out of Chicago to meet up with the other two families with only a minor inconvenience.”

Eric Hrubant, Tzell Travel

When the Level 4 Travel Advisory came out from the U.S. State Department, we needed to repatriate 45 clients who were traveling internationally. Our team got them all booked on flights within two hours. Every last one of them was back on U.S. soil within 48 hours. In addition, we had a non-client at risk of being stranded in St. Maarten when it was announced that the SXM airport was closing. She couldn’t get her airline on the phone and there weren’t any rebooking options on their website. Desperate, she reached out to us to see what we could do. We got her a seat on a flight home for the next day (one of the last) and gave her peace of mind.

Stephen Scott, a luxury travel advisor with Protravel International

Our team has provided support for companies, groups, couples and families that have had to either cancel or reschedule trips into next year. The biggest benefit we have provided clients during this crucial time is that we are not only accessible and educated on their options, but because they chose to use a travel advisor they are speaking to the exact same people who planned their trip. It did not take them three hours on hold to get an answer from someone who doesn’t know them at all. Our ability to assist them through this with continued personalization and service is one of the best things we can do for our clients to make the most of the situation.

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Travel

easyJet refund: How to get refund from easyJet

EasyJet has suspended its service for two months after completing its final rescue flight earlier this year. All cabin crew have been given a leave of absence for this duration. The company wants to reduce £4.5billion in spending, including payments for the new aircraft from Airbus, in response to the drop in demand for air travel amid the coronavirus pandemic. But how do you get a refund?

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Budget airline easyJet grounded its entire fleet at the end of March.

EasyJet has not confirmed a date for restarting commercial flights yet.

Additionally, the airline said 4,000 of its 9,000 staff members would be furloughed for two months starting from April 1.

The company had already cancelled most services but was running rescue flights to repatriate Britons stranded abroad.

So far, easyJet has flown 650 rescue flights, taking 45,000 people home, but has said it will continue to work with government bodies to assist rescue flights as requested.

When its planes resume travel, the airliner plans to keep the middle seats on its places empty to allow for social distancing.

As things currently stand, easyJet intends for holidays in June, July and August to go ahead.

The airline says that cancellations are being evaluated daily, and if your flight does get cancelled, you’ll be notified at least seven days in advance.

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The airline said: “As a result of the unprecedented travel restrictions imposed by governments in response to the coronavirus pandemic and the implementation of national lockdowns across many European countries, easyJet has, today, fully grounded its entire fleet of aircraft.

“Over recent days easyJet has been helping to repatriate customers, having operated more than 650 rescue flights to date, returning home more than 45,000 customers.

“The last of these rescue flights were operated on Sunday, March 29. We will continue to work with government bodies to operate additional rescue flights as requested.

“At this stage there can be no certainty of the date for restarting commercial flights.

“We will continuously evaluate the situation based on regulations and demand, and will update the market when we have a view.”

The news from easyJet came as regional airline Loganair said airlines were unlikely to survive without a government bailout.

Loganair boss Jonathan Hinkles told the BBC any airline saying it could survive without government help “would probably be lying”.

EasyJet said on Monday it would not need a bailout.

The airline said: “We have no plans currently to ask the government for bespoke support as outlined by the chancellor.”

It added: “To support recovery in the future, we believe that further actions will be needed such as a temporary removal of Aviation Passenger Duty and Air Traffic Control Charges.”

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How to get a refund if you have a flight booked with easyJet

EasyJet flights are cancelled until at least June.

If your flight has been cancelled you are entitled to a full refund to the original form of payment within seven days under EU air passengers’ rights rules.

You may also be entitled to a voucher for the value of their original booking or an alternative flight of the same price.

The airline has said impacted customers will be contacted to discuss their options.

If you are affected, you can contact easyJet yourself, but the airline has warned that customers are likely to experience long wait times due to the massive number of disrupted flights.

The customer service number for easyJet is 0330 365 5000.

EasyJet said: “We are experiencing higher than average wait times so we would thank customers for their patience and assure them that these entitlements will be available long after their cancelled flight has flown.”

You can also manage your booking online using the easyJet website here.

What happens if you have issues getting a refund from easyJet?

If you struggle to reach an agreement, you can escalate any claim to an alternate dispute resolution body.

EasyJet is a member of the Consumer Dispute Resolution Limited group and you can find information on how to start a complaint here.

If you booked a flight through a third part company, you need to contact them regarding a refund or alternative flight.

You can also claim your money back through your credit or debit card provider.

Credit card payments between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.

If you bought a flight using a debit card, you can claim a refund via your bank using the Chargeback scheme, which can be used to reclaim cash for goods and services you did not receive.

Claims apply for purchases made by debit card or by credit card for purchases under £100, but must be within 120 days of the transaction.

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Travel

EU Schengen area: Which European countries are in the Schengen free-travel area?

Coronavirus cases across Europe are rapidly increasing, with many nations now taking drastic action to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. The number of deaths in Europe comes close to 2,000, with 48,277 confirmed cases. Worldwide there have been 7,113 deaths and more than 180,000 cases.

Italy is the worst affected nation in Europe, with more than 27,000 cases confirmed, while Spain, Germany, France and Switzerland all have several thousand infected by the respiratory disease, also known as COVID-19.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK rose to 1,543 on Monday, up from 1,372 the day before, with 55 now dead.

Today, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen revealed plans to ban all non-essential travel in the to Schengen area.

The free travel region would be closed to all non-essential travel for 30 days if approved.

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Which European countries are in the Schengen free-travel area?

There are in total 26 European countries in the Schengen free-travel area.

Of the 27 EU member states, 22 participate in the Schengen Area.

EU member states not part of the agreement are Ireland, Cyprus, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria.

Non EU-members Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are also within it.

Ms von der Leyen told a press conference on Monday: “The UK citizens are European citizens so of course there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the continent.

“Here in Europe we are heavily affected by coronavirus and we know that everything that reduces social interaction also reduces the speed of the spread of the virus.

“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus.

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“Therefore, as I have just informed our G7 partners, I propose to the heads of state and governments, to introduce temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the European Union.”

The Schengen Area has a population of over 420 million people.

About 1.7 million people commute to work across a European border each day, and in some regions these people constitute up to a third of the workforce.

Each year, there are 1.3 billion crossings of Schengen borders, with 57 million crossings due to transport of goods by road, valued £2.55 trillion (€2.8 trillion) each year.

List of countries in the Schengen free-travel area

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

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Travel

Coronavirus in Norway: Is it safe to travel to Norway? Is Norway on lockdown?

More than 145,000 have been infected by the coronavirus worldwide with 1,002 of these cases in Norway. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to worsen and has now been detected in some 110 countries across the globe.

Is it safe to travel to Norway?

The Norwegian authorities have introduced a number of precautionary measures in response to the ongoing crises.

The Scandinavian nation advised its citizens on Saturday not to travel abroad for the next month and urged Norwegians outside the country to consider returning home as soon as possible due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement it was making the recommendation due to the spreading virus and the risk other nations will restrict travel.

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Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said: “Countries can quickly introduce travel restrictions, quarantine at arrival from countries with coronavirus, and borders can close, flights could be cancelled or other measures initiated.”

The Norwegian capital of Oslo’s main airport has now shut its gates to foreign travellers, according to a local municipality said.

The government invoked emergency powers on Thursday to shut a range of private and public institutions, including schools and restaurants, and asked most people to work from home if they could.

The central bank made an emergency rate cut on Friday and pumped money into banks, while the government presented a package of fiscal and regulatory measures to aid the economy.

The new travel advice for avoiding infection includes the following:

  • All who have been outside Nordic countries, that is Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, are to stay in their homes for 14 days after arriving home to Norway, regardless of whether they have symptoms.
  • Travellers from countries outside the Nordic region who are not residents of Norway will be asked to return. The alternative for these travellers is quarantine. Travellers with symptoms will be isolated.
  • This means that everyone presently staying in Norway and who has been in a country outside the Nordic region in the past 14 days is to be quarantined.

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This policy has retroactive effect and applies to all arrivals since Thursday 27 February.

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice reads: “The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises that travellers from countries outside the Nordic region (Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Sweden) who are not residents of Norway will be asked to return.

“Those still wishing to enter will be required to enter self-quarantine for 14 days. Travellers with symptoms will be isolated.

“All visitors in Norway who arrived after February 27 are also required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

“The British embassy is working to clarify what this means for those wishing to leave Norway before their 14 day self-quarantine has expired.

“Travellers are advised to check with their travel insurance company whether their policy covers them for costs incurred due to coronavirus precautions rather than illness.”

The Chief Medical Officer has advised British nationals aged 70 and over and those with pre-existing health condition against cruise ship travel at this time.

A number of Norwegian ports are also considering restrictions on passenger embarkation and disembarkation.

The situation can change rapidly so check with your cruise provider before travelling.

In addition, Norwegian authorities have issued recommendations people avoid using public transport unless strictly necessary.

Airports will remain open for now, but travel is being discouraged.

Read the latest updates on travelling to Norway at the FCO website.

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Categories
Cruises

Atlas Ocean Voyages Offers Travel Advisors Gift Card Incentive

Atlas Ocean Voyages is offering travel advisors an incentive of up to $750 when they book clients with deposit summer 2021 and winter 2021-22 voyages in the Adriatic and Black seas, Holy Lands, South America, and Antarctica.

Travel advisors will receive a $500 gift card per Veranda- and Horizon-category stateroom booking and a $750 gift card per suite booking.

The “Get Paid Now” incentive is in addition to the existing promotional 15 percent commission for all summer 2021 and winter 2021-22 bookings aboard the new all-inclusive, expedition-style ship World Navigator.

Additionally, travelers will get $1,000 savings and free business-class air per guest when booking a suite aboard World Navigator. Those booking Horizon- or Veranda-category staterooms will save $500 and get free economy-class air per guest. The savings is $500 per guest in an Adventure stateroom. The free air is for the intercontinental segment and journeys departing prior to Oct. 28, 2021.

Atlas Ocean Voyages is also offering a 50 percent reduced deposit of $500 per guest per stateroom and $750 per guest per suite. Furthermore, Atlas is allowing free changes, so that clients can carry their deposit to any World Navigator departure, up until March 31, 2022, without penalty.

“The current travel atmosphere is dynamic and complex, but what is important and clear is that we must maintain our unwavering support for our valued travel advisor partners,” said Alberto Aliberti, president of Atlas Ocean Voyages. “We must recognize that travel advisors are losing earnings due to cancellations but continue to have bills and expenses. Atlas’ ‘Get Paid Now’ program will immediately help professional travel sellers get through this industry downturn. We have previously faced adversities together, and Atlas Ocean Voyages will support our distribution partners through this challenging sales environment.”

The new Atlas Ocean Voyages offers “Luxe-Adventure” experiences on small, expedition-style ships with 98 suites and staterooms. For more information, click here.

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