‘I’m ready to face quarantine just to get away’


Angela Russell Image copyright Angela Russell

HR professional Angela Russell and her partner Steve have decided that despite coronavirus, they will be flying to Montenegro on 5 July.

They’re only going for a week’s holiday, but the prospect of having to spend two weeks in quarantine on their return doesn’t bother them.

“I have become totally fed up with all the bad news and how the government is dealing with issues,” she told the BBC.

“I’m prepared to put up with quarantine just to get away from here for a bit.”

The couple will be holidaying with a friend of Angela’s who has terminal cancer, accompanied by her husband. “She had planned to do a lot of travelling this year and until now, all her plans have been kiboshed.”

The four have booked to fly with Jet2, which plans to resume its flight programme on 1 July.

Return to the skies?

A number of other airlines and tour operators have announced similar plans.

Ryanair and Tui are also due to restart services from the beginning of July, while EasyJet is taking to the skies again from 15 June.

British Airways has said it will launch “a meaningful return to service” in July, while Virgin Atlantic has said flights will not resume until August.

However, at the moment, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is still advising against all non-essential foreign travel, with no indication of when the policy might change.

A spokesperson for Jet2 said the firm always followed FCO guidelines and was “reviewing the situation on a daily basis”.

Jet2 declined to give any details of the level of bookings over the next few months, describing it as “commercially sensitive information”. The BBC has approached other airlines and holiday firms for comment.

One airline that does seem to be confident about the future is budget carrier Wizz Air, which said on Wednesday that it was still planning to take delivery of new aircraft.

“Whatever we can fly, we’re going to be flying, because we’ve seen that there is actually demand out there,” said the airline’s chief executive, Jozsef Varadi.

Pragmatic approach

Angela, who live in Wales, is semi-retired and now works just one day a week, which she can easily do from home if forced to self-isolate. She points out that Montenegro is “pretty much coronavirus-free” .

“I’ve spent my life assessing risk, either in work or in my daily life,” she says. “The only risk is that we might pick it up at the airport.”

She adds: “My fear is that Montenegro will say, ‘We don’t want to let people in from the UK, because you don’t seem to manage it very well.’

“But I feel it’s imperative now that we support the travel industry. We have to take a pragmatic approach to how we do things.”

Insurance fears

Another hopeful holidaymaker is Robert Jenkins, of Bedwas in south Wales, who usually goes abroad four or five times a year with his wife Barbara. “We’re retired and travelling is very important to us,” he told the BBC.

Image copyright Robert Jenkins
Image caption Robert Jenkins hopes to fly to Greece later this year

Robert and Barbara are hedging their bets, with not one, but two trips booked between now and the end of the year.

The couple are due to fly with EasyJet to Malaga in Spain on 1 July and to the Greek island of Kos on 12 September.

But Robert says he is poised to cancel the Spanish trip, because “the FCO still hasn’t given the go-ahead and I don’t know if I’ll be insured”.

He is also worried by the Spanish tourism minister’s remarks this week that British coronavirus figures “still have to improve” before Spain can receive tourists from the UK.

“I’m really hoping Greece will go ahead. We’ve gone to the same resort for 20 years and we are on first-name terms with the people in the village we stay at,” he says.

“But it’s all up in the air. Things are changing day by day.”

Anyone considering booking an overseas holiday needs to find their balance on a financial tightrope.

As always, if you book on a flight which is subsequently cancelled, you should be refunded, although millions of people have already found that can be a slow, and still unresolved process.

Booking a package holiday also offers financial protection if it is later cancelled owing to a second wave of the virus or current restrictions being extended.

Insurance is more complex. Travelling against Foreign Office advice, which is still that anything but essential travel should be avoided, would invalidate existing insurance. That has implications for claiming the cost of accommodation, car hire and so on, but also medical care.

We still do not know when that advice will be lifted. It is under review.

Those buying a new insurance policy – irrespective of the travel advice – will often find that it will not cover you for coronavirus-related issues, such as having to cancel a break because you have been told to self-isolate.