Britons are advised against all non-essential foreign travel ‘INDEFINITELY’, but Which? warns it will cause confusion and may leave holidaymakers out of pocket
- The FCO says travellers may be unable to return home if they leave the UK
- Which? says the advice will cause a ‘huge amount of confusion’ for travellers
- It adds without an end date, holidaymakers could find it difficult to get refunds
Britons are being warned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) against all non-essential global travel abroad ‘indefinitely’ as the coronavirus crisis continues.
The FCO said that travellers could face ‘severe disruption’ and may be unable to return home if they leave the UK at this time.
But consumer champion Which? has warned that the lack of an end date could cause confusion and prevent travellers claiming refunds.
The Foreign Office tweeted that it advises against all non-essential global travel indefinitely
Earlier this month, a 30-day advisory was put in place by the FCO warning against all non-essential foreign travel until April 15.
But on Saturday, the FCO tweeted: ‘The Foreign Office indefinitely advises against all non-essential global travel.’
It added: ‘The situation is changing rapidly. Travellers could face severe disruption and be unable to return to the UK.’
It also quietly updated its website to say: ‘FCO extends advice against travelling overseas for an indefinite period.’
However, Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘While it is right the government extends its advice, the FCO’s decision to make the time period indefinite will cause a huge amount of confusion for anyone who has foreign travel booked in the months ahead.
Passengers arriving at Heathrow Airport over the weekend. Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said: ‘While it is right the government extends its advice, the FCO’s decision to make the time period indefinite will cause a huge amount of confusion’
‘The travel warning should be extended to a definitive date, which can be reviewed if needed, so that travellers have some much-needed clarity around refunds, rebooking or claiming on insurance.
‘The government, travel sector and insurers must work together to ensure that any emergency measures introduced in response to this crisis include strong guarantees or protections to prevent consumers from losing their money if a travel firm fails.’
A spokesperson from Abta (Association of British Travel Agents) said: ‘The FCO travel advice against all but essential travel has now removed the interim review date and could be in place for the foreseeable future however, this travel restriction can be removed at any time.
‘Therefore Abta’s advice remains the same for managing a similar restriction for an individual country.
‘Each company will have their own process for managing future departures and will be contacting customers due to travel imminently. There is no legal definition of “imminent travel”, however it is generally considered to be within the next few days.
British Airways aircraft parked up at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. The Foreign Office says it is ‘ramping up’ efforts to bring home thousands of British travellers stranded overseas due to the coronavirus crisis
‘Our advice to customers with future bookings is to be patient and wait to be contacted by your travel provider.
‘Travel companies are extremely busy, given the pressures of the current crisis, and will be looking at imminent departures first and deciding how far in advance they will offer alternative arrangements or refunds.’
To add to the confusion, it has been reported that airlines including British Airways and easyJet are selling tickets for flights in May – despite health officials warning a global lockdown could last for months.
Meanwhile, the FCO says it is ‘ramping up’ efforts to bring home thousands of British travellers stranded overseas due to the coronavirus crisis.
Flights have been chartered to bring home Britons from Bolivia, Ecuador, the Philippines and India.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: ‘Travellers are facing an unprecedented challenge on a global scale, and I know people are understandably desperate to get back to their homes and loved ones.
‘We are committed to supporting Britons getting home either through commercial routes we have helped keep open or through specially chartered flights.’