Travelbounce Q&A: Your travel questions answered

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Content correct at time of publication.

Welcome to the Travelbounce Q&A. Here, we answer questions you’ve sent us on the new world of travel. If you want to ask something, let us know in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Do I need to fill in a form to travel to Scotland from elsewhere in the UK?

No. This is the case if you arrive from anywhere within the Common Travel Area, which includes England, Wales, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, as long as you have been there for 14 days or longer.

While the borders between Wales, England and Scotland never closed in a literal sense, it has always been a case of adhering to the restrictions issued by each national government. These no longer include a ban on cross-border travel. Just read the latest public health guidance from either England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland before you travel there.

My daughter lives in Dubai and is a UK passport holder. She wants to travel to the UK and then on to Spain a few days later. Will she be let in to Spain, and will she have to quarantine?

This is a common question among passport-holders of one country living in another, and can be tricky to work out. Anyone who wants to travel abroad at the moment, especially if the trip involves more than two countries, needs to check the latest information on entering and leaving EACH country, and also, as in this case, how their itinerary and passport affects these rules.

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So, what about Dubai-UK-Spain-Dubai on a UK passport? The immigration office in the UAE has said that residents are now free to leave the country without being tested. However, the UAE is not currently on the UK Foreign Office’s list of ‘travel corridor’ countries. That means that, though your daughter will be fine to get into the country as a UK passport holder, she will be required to self-isolate for 14 days after arriving.

This is not a strictly-enforced quarantine like in some countries; it’s up to the individual to arrange and is monitored by ‘spot checks’ on around one in five people via phone or text. But it is an important public health regulation, and must be followed.

If your daughter skipped her stop in the UK and travelled from the UAE directly to Spain, with or without a transit stop, it would be the rules between the countries at the start and end of the journey which apply – and Spain still has restrictions on arrivals from the UAE.

Another option would be to self-isolate for 14 days in the UK, and then go to Spain. This would have been fine until last week, when the UK Foreign Office suddenly declared Spain unsafe to visit and issued official advice against travelling there. It’s still possible to fly there and be let in without having to quarantine, but her travel insurance policy may be invalidated.

Remember that all arrivals to Spain must fill out a travel form before their trip, and are issued a QR code to scan at the airport.

Finally, for your daughter’s return to Dubai, there are a few rules to follow. Local news site The National has a useful guide here.

Why are airlines selling flights to countries people can’t travel to?

While some airlines paused flights completely for a period this year, others have continued to fly both long- and short-haul. The general justification is that there have been people who have needed to return to their home country or travel for an emergency reason throughout the pandemic (and many of those flights were VERY costly to get onto). It has been up to the public to research the travel restrictions on countries they want or need to get to. You can book flights to New York from London with several airlines next week; but you won’t be let in when you get there.

Airlines have also been inclined to run so-called ‘ghost flights’, with very few or no passengers, because this muddies the waters when it comes to passengers’ compensation rights. If a flight is cancelled, the passenger is automatically entitled to a full refund (which is usually supposed to be provided within 14 days, though this has not always been the case since the pandemic due to the dramatic liquidity crisis facing airlines).

Yet if the flight continues to operate, even if travel to the destination is ill-advised or even impossible, the passenger will have to fight harder to demand a refund, and may not even be successful.

And now that the list of countries where travel is allowed is constantly evolving, this continues to be the case. Jet2 and Tui have both suspended flights to Spain as a result of the new Foreign Office travel advice, but Easyjet, Ryanair and British Airways all say they will continue.

I want to travel to visit family in Vancouver at the end of the year. Is it sensible to book flights?

If this year has shown us anything, it’s that nothing is certain. The UK has now deemed travel to Canada safe, but most nationalities are still barred from entering, including Brits (with a few limited exceptions). It’s very difficult to predict what the situation will be in, say, December.

If you do book a flight or hotel, or buy travel insurance, just make sure you are fully informed about their policies in case you need to cancel or rebook. Read the small print. For example, will you get a refund/flight voucher ONLY if the flight is cancelled by the airline, even if there is a ban on travel or you need to self-isolate?

Is there any news on an air bridge to Egypt? I’m desperate to go!

It’s a similar answer to the above. Many people in tourism-reliant Egypt are just as desperate to start welcoming back visitors. The country reopened to foreigners on July 1, but it has not yet been added to the Foreign Office’s list of countries judged safe to visit, nor is it an ‘air bridge’ country (aka one where you can visit without quarantining on return). The government says it is reviewing this list daily; all we can do for now is wait.

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