Simon Calder on easyJet, flight cancellations and passport problems

How are your summer holidays looking? Our travel correspondent can advise

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 01 June 2022 13:36 BST
Comments

Wholesale flight cancellations, passport expiry worries and US Covid restrictions: as June gets under way, travellers have plenty of concerns.

Our travel correspondent, Simon Calder, has been answering as many as he can in our latest Ask Me Anything.

easyJet worries

Q: If my outbound flight with easyJet gets cancelled and I have to book with a different airline and claim back from easyJet, what happens to the return portion of the easyJet flight? Should I book a single or return flight with the different airline?

Also, sometimes I book outbound with one airline and back with another. What happens in that situation if the outbound flight is cancelled?

Onjetravels

A: Britain’s biggest budget airline, easyJet, is cancelling around 40 flights a day to, from and within the UK. Most are to and from London Gatwick, but Belfast, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle and other airports are also affected.

As you hint, anyone whose flight is cancelled is entitled to travel on the same day – and if easyJet cannot provide the flight, then you can book on another carrier and charge the cost to the airline that cancelled your flight.

But if you have booked with easyJet, your inbound flight will automatically be preserved unless you choose to abandon the whole trip and claim a full refund. So please do not book a round trip with a new airline unless you have been told, by easyJet, that your return leg is also cancelled. If the original homeward flight takes off, easyJet will not be inclined to refund you.

(At the risk of overcomplicating things, I feel obliged to point out that “legacy” airlines such as British Airways generally cancel both legs if you do not travel on the outbound leg.)

The other scenario you outline is increasingly common. With so much duplication on routes between the big airlines, it will often make sense to book (say) outbound on easyJet and back on BA, or out on Ryanair and return on Jet2.

Suppose the first leg is cancelled and you choose to cancel the whole trip. The returning airline (in my examples, British Airways or Jet2) will not care that easyJet or Ryanair were unable to take you out. The seat is there, and the fact that you can’t be is not the airline’s fault. So all things being equal (which they rarely are in aviation), it is generally worth booking out and back with the same carrier.

Q: Easyjet cancelled our Belfast to Corfu flight with half an hour’s notice. We were given no help apart from the app so we cancelled our booking. Can they charge us for the return Corfu to Belfast flight? Thanks

Kim Rey

A: I was so sorry to see that Britain’s biggest budget airline cancelled this flight at the weekend – because getting people from Northern Ireland to this Greek island is always going to be very difficult if a direct flight is cancelled.

Of course easyJet will give you a full refund for the entire round trip. (Note that if you had booked with separate airlines that would not be the case.) And pay everyone £350 in cash compensation on top of that.

Q: We are due to fly out from Belfast to Gatwick on Sunday night with Easyjet for our flight to Jamaica with TUI on Monday morning for our year and a half delayed honeymoon. Easyjet have cancelled our flight slot 2 weeks in a row so we are worried it will be cancelled this week however Easyjet wont say anything. If we cant get to Gatwick for our TUI flight do we have any options? They aren’t part of the same booking as it isn’t possible here in Northern Ireland to book as a single trip. Our flight to Gatwick is the last flight out, and our Jamaica flight is early the next morning.

Matthew McG

A: Ouch. A very tricky position to be in. In your position, I think, given the nature of your trip and the potential downside, booking additional flights for earlier on Sunday (either from Belfast or Dublin) could be rational. But they are ferociously expensive. So, get to the airport good and early, watch to see if the original flight leaves Gatwick, and be prepared to buy at very high fares an alternative departure if it doesn’t. easyJet should pay this back.

Q: Due to go to Paris on Saturday 4 June with EasyJet 1725 flight. Only going until 6th, so if flight is cancelled or even delayed by much it will ruin it. Also we can cancel hotel for free but only until 2nd June, so if flight cancelled after, we’d lose the hotel money. Any advice?

Should add the hotel cost is way more than the flights, so we’re wondering if we should just cut our loses & lose flight money rather than run the risk of losing cost of hotel?

Davethecat

A: I’m not sure where you are flying from; if not Gatwick, then there is a small chance that your flight may be cancelled. In any event, most EasyJet cancellations are coming with several days notice, so that would give you time to cancel your hotel if need be.

If it is an on the day cancellation, I reckon you will probably still just about have time to find an alternative flight to the French capital – and, if it is from a London airport, Eurostar offers an option. But in your position I would be simply looking forward to the trip.

Q: Are easyJet making any comment on how they think the summer routes will pan out. Will there be more cancellations?

Lesina

A: Not yet. Clearly easyJet want to get through to the end of half term and, from six June onwards reassess how much of the operation they can safely plan to run. It may well be that they’ve got extra staff in training, or awaiting security clearance, and that things will improve briskly. I certainly hope that is the case.

Q: I have  a flight from London Gatwick to Zurich on easyJet in three days’ time. As of now I have received no messages regarding any change/cancellation.

What are the chances that It will go ahead?

Neeraj

A: My understanding is that cancellations by easyJet are being made several days ahead, so I hope your flight will be unaffected. A good way to test whether the airline is confident of operating your trip is to make a dummy booking for it: if the flight is showing as having space available, then there is a very good chance it will be running normally.

There may be some on the day disruption, but that is low probability. If it gets cancelled, then fortunately you can rebook from Heathrow on British Airways or Swiss, at easyJet’s expense – with BA itself cancelling many flights from Heathrow, Swiss is probably a safe

Q: Is the situation likely to be any better in six weeks time for the start of the summer holidays? We’re travelling at the end of July on a package deal with easyJet flights.

Lyndsay

A: I very much hope things will improve by July. Certainly, easyJet will be doing everything it possibly can to avoid on-the-day cancellations. The most significant risk I can see is that easyJet reluctantly scales back its plans for peak summer and that some holidays are cancelled – in just the same way that Tui has proactively grounded almost 200 outbound flights in June in a bid to protect the remaining trips.

Q: How is Luton Airport faring with all the recent cancellations?

Gavin C

A: We’ve seen a few cancellations on easyJet, but nothing on the scale of Gatwick. In your position I would not worry one bit about my flight going ahead.

Compensation quandaries

Q: BA rejected my EU compensation claim saying “Your claim’s been refused because BA0761 [Oslo to Heathrow] on 27 February was cancelled because Operational Reasons”.

Should I accept it?

Tom N

A: Only when British Airways has upped its response and explained exactly the nature of those “Operational Reasons”. Only then can you assess whether this is a reasonable excuse. So get back to BA and request more information.

Q: My father was booked to fly from Salzburg to Birmingham this Saturday. Yesterday he received an SMS message saying the booking is cancelled and that a refund had been issued. There was no offer to help him make other arrangements. Is he entitled to compensation on top of a refund?

Neil F

A: The airline’s attitude is simply unacceptable. When an airline cancels a flight, it is obliged to provide the options of a refund or an alternative flight – in your father’s case, back to Birmingham, which would probably involve a connection in Frankfurt, or taking a train to Munich and flying from there. It is your father’s choice, not the airline’s.

Since the cancellation was made less than two weeks before departure, he is also due cash compensation of £220.

Passport concerns

Q: I’m due to fly to Cyprus on 9 June and will return on 17 June. My passport was issued on 20 June 2012 and runs out on 20 September 2022. Will I still be ok to travel?

A: Just! Only three days to spare but all good. Have a lovely holiday.

Q: I am due to fly to Greece on 9 June, returning 16 June, my passport issue date is 15 July 2012 and expiry date is 15 January 2023, is my passport valid for travel?

Worried Traveller

A: Travel out any day to 14 July 2022, stay for up to 90 days.

Q: Can you find out if Montenegro make the passport valid 3 months from the expiry date like most of Europe and not 3 months from 10 years of issue date. Getting conflicting advice and entry requirement site doesn’t state which. Thanks

Srecko

A: The Foreign Office says that Montenegro is aligned with the European Union/Schengen area, ie with two tests:

  • Issued less than 10 years ago on date of outward travel.
  • Expires at least 3 months after intended date of return.

Q: Family of four due to fly on 26 June. Passport office have had three of our passports for over seven weeks. I cannot get through by phone and do not receive any replies from emails. I’m becoming increasingly anxious, what more can I do?

Kazzer

A: I’m not surprised you’re becoming anxious. You clearly applied in time to get your passport – complying with the 10 weeks that HM Passport Office says you’ll need.

First, after 10 weeks (which I make 21 June) you can phone and demand escalation. Next, if you miss your holiday and it’s the responsibility of the authorities, you can claim compensation. But I fervently hope and expect you’ll make it.

Q: Please help. My daughter’s passport issue date is 6 August 2012. Expiry date 6 November 2022. Due to fly to Kos 1 June and returning 11 June. Is the passport valid? Tui says no.

Wak

A: What? Tell Tui, from me, that she can travel out to, and remain in, the European Union up to and including 6 August 2022. Please send anything you can to s@hols.tv suggesting otherwise and I will investigate.

American adventures

Q: Off to California end of July. What’s your opinion on end to maddening pre-departure tests for fully vaccinated travellers by then?

Ron

A: As I have previously said: the US government has been baffling in the way that it has imposed Covid travel restrictions of various kinds. The authorities lifted the ban on Brits only in November 2021, just as the lowest of seasons began. So I predict this requirement will be lifted some time after peak summer season ends, probably in October.

Q: After nearly three years’ absence I am flying with my family to the US on 13 August. As the rules stand at the moment we require a covid test 1 day before departure. Have you heard any rumblings on whether the USA CDC will likely abolish this rule? Secondly, if the rule remains, would you recommend booking a covid test now for 12 August, and if so are there any companies you would propose as being robust in their approach and flexibility should changes occur to the testing rules.

Brooksy

A: Flying on August 13? I’d be booking a Covid test maybe on August 11. Or possibly the following day. I just use whichever airport service is recommended by your airline, because you will almost certainly get a discount code.

Q: We are a couple planning to fly to Florida in early May next year and staying for 2 weeks and I wondered if you had any advice about the best time to book flights to get the best deal? Many thanks for your help.

Smitchski

A: I’d be looking a week before departure. Low-ish season, lots of availability. The only exception – if there’s an excellent seat sale in, say, January with an excellent price.

Q: I am looking to book flights for Florida next Easter school hols. They have just been realised for KLM/Virgin but are currently more expensive than summer flights this year (£1700-plus per person for Easter 22 / £1200ish for August 21). I knew they’d be expensive but seems crazy! Do you think these will come down in price if we wait till a bit closer before booking?

A:  I wouldn’t dream of buying flights at those prices for next Easter! Personally, I would wait until February 2023 to see how the market looks. As you will know, there are many ways of getting to Florida and all kinds of airlines will offer you reasonable deals via their respective hubs. So ask me again in February.

Jab journeys

Q: I’m a UK citizen. I received my two vaccinations and a booster last October, so 10 months before I will travel to France in June.

Do I need to have an antigen test before travelling to meet EU rules? I’ve looked but I’m not sure. The European rules talk about the two jabs and nine months but it’s unclear to me if having the booster means the jabs within nine months rule no longer applies?

Nic Crocker

A: Thanks for the chance to make this clear: pretty much without exception, and certainly for France and other key European locations, your booster comes with no expiry attached. That may change, but not before your trip next month.

Tui’s troubles

Q: We are due to fly Tui Manchester to Preveza on Sun 5th June. Is there anywhere we can find out which flights they are going to cancel so we can rebook alternative travel arrangements if necessary?

PHiggy

A: My understanding is that Tui has told everyone affected by its mass cancellations between now and the end of June that their holiday is off. So if you haven’t heard, you should be fine.

Q: I’m flying with Tui from Gatwick this Friday, package holiday and the flight is at 6:10am. i read that the earliest flights are those most at risk and that people keep losing luggage too. how do i ease my anxiety about all of this? will it go ahead even?

Wise Owlbie

A: Really sorry to hear that you are worried, my strong prediction is that your trip will be absolutely fine. Contrary to your assertion, I think the later your flight is scheduled for the more chance that it won’t happen. Disruption can very easily build during the day, leading to the risk that the crew on final sectors can go “out of hours”.

Q: We are currently in Majorca on a Tui package holiday and due to return home on Saturday flying to Doncaster. We are concerned we going to either severally delayed at the airport at Palma for hours or flight be cancelled or moved to another day. Please can you share what are our rights

Swisstonyuk

A: Your flight should be absolutely fine. If you are stuck at Palma airport, then you will be entitled to meals and drinks as appropriate after two hours, and if it is the airlines fault then cash compensation as well after three hours. But I would give you odds of 99 per cent that it will operate normally.

Any other business?

Q: Any musts for 24 hours in a Bucharest?

“JerseyCrapaud”

A: Lucky you – great city. The Communist era architecture is boggling, and what’s left of the old town is just lovely.

Q: We are scheduled to fly to Antalya on 13 June with SunExpress. Do you think we will be good to go?

Champ123

A: Yes, the Turkish carriers all seem to be working flat out and keeping to schedule have a great trip. Good airline, I understand.

Q: Flying to Pisa from Birmingham on Saturday 4th June at 6.30am with Jet2.com. How likely are we to be able to fly?

“Fascinating”

A: Jet2 had a few problems at Bristol and Manchester last weekend, but in general they have been performing extremely well – as have Ryanair. In your position, the only thing I would be feeling stressed about is having to get up ridiculously early to get that flight. Have a great trip.

Q: I’m due to fly with BA from Gatwick to Lanzarote on Thursday. I had an email a few weeks ago, cancelling my return flight & was given the option to return with Iberia (not ideal as not a direct flight but at least it’s a flight). With all the cancellations happening at Gatwick, do you have any insight into whether all BA cancellations are pre-planned or is there I risk that my outbound flight could be cancelled last minute, a la EasyJet? Thanks!

Roma Gee

A: Considering it is effectively a brand-new airline, British Airways’ Gatwick Airport short-haul operation (BA EuroFlyer) is performing pretty well, with just a handful of cancellations. I would be feeling confident right now.

Q: Should I drive to the south of France instead of flying?

Jersey Crapaud

A: Certainly not. Flying is implausibly safe, driving through France is sadly a risk field experience. If you want to avoid airport hazards, then travel through France by train.

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