Many Britons with impending holiday plans in Portugal, or those who have already jetted off to the nation’s sunny shores, may be anxious about the looming threat of quarantine. Though Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps has advised no more travel changes are expected today, he added: “Holidaymakers are reminded – 14-day quarantine countries can & do change at very short notice.”
With this in mind, a travel expert has issued a stark warning to holidaymakers with hopes of a Portuguese getaway.
As has been the case with countries including Croatia and France, many Britons have faced a race against the clock to get home before quarantine rules hit.
However, with that comes the risk of huge financial cost.
As Coby Benson, Solicitor at Bott and Co explains: “The airline or tour operator have no obligation to pay for passengers to come back early.
“Unfortunately travellers will need to pay those additional costs themselves.”
Yet, with sudden surges of people rebooking onto earlier flights, ticket prices can skyrocket.
Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, travel journalist Simon Calder said: “Of course you want to hope for the best but if there’s a reason why you cannot self-isolate for two weeks when you come back – you’ve got to go to school or you’ve got to go to work – then I would be making plans to get out.
“That’s a lot easier said than done because the price of flights has gone through the roof.”
He added: “It’s a really stressful and potentially extremely expensive time for people.”
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The only scenario in which an airline will cover the cost of another flight is if the original flight home is cancelled by the airline.
In which case Mr Benson states travellers are “entitled to a replacement flight at the earliest available opportunity, free of charge.”
It is also a concerning plan for travellers with impending holiday plans.
If travel plans are cancelled by the operator, under EC Regulation 261/2004, a flight passenger is entitled to a monetary refund within seven days if an airline cancels a flight, or a free replacement flight at a later date, subject to availability of seats.
Under the Package Travel Regulations (2018), those that have booked a package holiday which won’t be taking place and has been terminated by the provider have the right to a full refund on any monies previously paid.
However, should a provider decide not to cancel a holiday or flight, customers could be left battling for their refunds.
Mr Benson says it’s a situation his team have already had to deal with.
“We do have immense sympathy for these companies given the current circumstances but keeping hold of people’s money is unjust and unlawful,” he said.
“The lines have been blurred and confusion around consumer rights has been created largely by the excuses and inaccuracies of airlines and holiday companies towards those trying to claim refunds.
“In an era of financial uncertainty, keeping people’s funds holed up in a bank account which is not their own is creating problems at an already stressful time.”
In the last few days both Wales and Scotland made the decision to remove Portugal from their travel corridors after cases began to rise above the UK’s 20 cases per 100,000 of the population threshold.
Any countries with cases exceeding this number are considered for removal.
There were 22.3 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in Portugal in the seven days to August 31, up from 14.5 a week earlier, according to figures calculated by the PA news agency based on ECDC data.
Despite this, England has continued to allow Britons to travel to and from the holiday hotspot.
In a tweet, Grant Shapps stated: “We continue to keep the Travel Corridor list under constant review & won’t hesitate to remove countries if needed. However, there are no English additions or removals today.”
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