From UK, Airlines Still Want To Take You On Summer Holiday

From grounded to back in the skies? EasyJet aims to have flights operating to 21 Europe destinations ... [+] by June from UK airports. There's just a catch: UK travel bans on non-essential travel are still in place, and all travelers including Brits face a 2 week quarantine on return.

That is not stopping many airlines from Wizz Air and EasyJet to Lufthansa and SWISS relaunching London and other U.K. to Europe routes with the aim of taking Brits and other Europeans on summer holidays. (Photo by Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images)

dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

Despite the U.K. ban on non-essential travel and looming quarantine, airlines still want to fly you away on summer holiday. In fact they are only just getting warmed up. With borders gradually reopening around the world, airlines are returning to Europe's skies, even taking bookings for summer holiday routes connecting U.K. airports to the world.  

International and British carriers have been ramping up flights to and from the U.K., and into Europe. Delta and Emirates are already flying into Heathrow; SWISS and Qatar will do so by the end of June. Now EasyJet is set to take off again in June with flights between 9 British airports and almost a couple of dozen European destinations.

Wizz Air has been doing so for weeks, flying from Luton to some 15 European cities. There's just a small hitch. Trips overseas are still off the cards under Foreign Office travel advisories.

While lockdown restrictions rule out travel far from home, and definitely out of the country. Even going to the airport to climb aboard those planes, travelers would be breaching the rules claims Rory Boland, travel editor of consumer rights group Which? Easing of lockdown rules in England on May 13, allow people to go on day trips by car. "This still doesn't allow you to leave your house for a holiday," Boland says. "So travelling to the airport for this purpose would still be breaking the law." (In Scotland too, even after a relaxation of the rules on May 28, it would still be a breach, as for Wales and Northern Ireland). "You would also be doing so against official advice, which invalidates your travel insurance," he says.

When U.K. quarantine measures come into force on June 8, any British traveler who boards a plane against FCO advice also faces 14 days isolation on return. As do most international arrivals. Or, instead of a happy holiday they may get stuck on an endless treadmill of flight cancellations and refund demands.

Sure border restrictions Europe-wide are starting to dramatically ease up from mid-June. But few countries plan to let Brits in then. Not without imposing their very own quarantine. When the green light for foreign vacations comes, here are some airlines that will fly you to Europe and beyond.

Don't rush to make bookings before then. And be sure to check current travel restrictions at your destination. Beware those already selling tickets to places whose borders are still closed to most foreigners, especially to tourists with no compelling reason to travel.

British Airways

BA's owner is aiming for "a meaningful return" of 1,000 flights a day by peak months, July-September.

That includes services operated by Ireland's Aer Lingus and Spain's Iberia and Vueling. The group's making a cautious return, with about 50% of its usual routes, due to forecast low demand. July would be my guess at when it is actually feasible to make leisure trips from the U.K.

From July 1, BA is selling tickets to holiday spots such as Antigua. Singapore is in the system from June 2. Flights to LA and New York for a start are already operating.

EasyJet

From UK, Airlines Still Want To Take You On Summer Holiday

EasyJet aims to have flights operating to 21 Europe destinations by June from 9 UK airports.

Despite ... [+] bans on all non-essential travel, and a 2 week quarantine on return, airlines including Wizz Air, Lufthansa and SWISS are relaunching U.K. to Europe routes in the hope of wooing Brits on summer holidays.

NurPhoto via Getty Images

The U.K. low-cost carrier plans to fly to 21 European destinations from mid-June. A "small number" it says maybe, but a start. Almost two months after the airline grounded its fleet on 30 March, the carrier is flying again from 9 U.K. airports (London Gatwick, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Belfast, Bristol, Birmingham, Newcastle, Glasgow and Inverness) to France (Paris Charles de Gaulle, Nice, and Lyon), Switzerland (Geneva), Portugal (Lisbon and Porto) and Spain (Barcelona).

Safety is being ramped up, with compulsory face masks. British travelers may be welcome in these destinations. By the time they get the nod to leave the country.

But you need to check down the line, as things are changing rapidly. And going in all directions. Will EasyJet's plans change in view of the quarantine rules?

Unlikely because they along with everyone in the aviation industry expected it. Though the company does point out, it will only restart flights where "there is sufficient customer demand to support profitable flying." It's even been busy trying to fuel such demand in 2021, selling a host of destinations including Ibiza, Valencia, Corfu, Mykonos, Lisbon and Nice from ?14.99 one-way.

Meantime, it's going to have a hard time filling June planes with only those who have "essential" travel reasons. And who are unfazed by the threat of quarantine on return.

Wizz Air

Taking bookings to off-limit countries has not stopped Hungarian low-cost Wizz Air launching flights from Luton to some 15 destinations through May. By July, several Greece destinations will be among them-Zakynthos, Heraklion, Corfu and Rhodes.

So the holiday perspectives are blossoming. On the surface at least. But beware booking for trips that have little chance of being realized.

Wizz Air for example is flying several times a week from London Gatwick to Budapest. Hungary is only just easing up its lockdown for citizens, and land and air borders are shut. According to information it's given to the EU, they may stay that way as long as November 11 due to the coronavirus.

So how are you expecting to fill seats on planes to countries subject to travel bans on non-citizens? I ask Wizz Air's press office. Initially, says a spokesperson, "we expect these services will be used by essential travelers, and for broader demand to gradually build.

Therefore, we do not expect to fill the aircraft to previous levels (94% on average)." Wizz Air says it's not just counting on bookings from travelers exempt from travel bans. But also those who would happily surrender "to 14 days voluntary quarantine if mandated."

Why does it not explain this clearly during the bookings process? That only those who are exempt will be able to travel. It's up to passengers to inform themselves is the reply. "Wizz Air is charging passengers a fee to claim a refund or rebook, even though most aren't allowed to travel to the airport to board the plane, and in some instances can't enter the destination country because it has banned entry to UK nationals," says Rory Boland.

Ryanair

The Irish low-cost plans to operate 1,000 daily flights from 1 July-up from a threadbare 30 at the moment.

That's a 40% return to normal schedules, with a target of 90% by late summer. Masks will be compulsory. Passengers will oddly have to ask permission to use the toilet under new hygiene rules.

Cabin crew will only serve prepackaged food and drinks, with contactless payment only.  Ryanair is already operating flights from Stansted to Porto and Lisbon for example. "Where Can You Fly?" It declares boldly on its website. With uncustomary directness, it lays bare some details of Europe's border reopenings to travelers: Italy, June 3; Cyprus: 15 June; Greece: 15 June etc. "Open to holidaymakers".

The problem is, Brits are not necessarily included among them. Each country at the outset is deciding who it lets into its "travel bubbles". Primarily fellow EU and Schengen members first, but also similar-risk countries. In Italy for example, from June 3, only EU tourists are allowed to enter.

Others will follow later. Ryanair does urge people to "check with relevant authorities before travelling" as restrictions are changing fast.

Jet2

Jet2 meantime has cancelled all flights and holiday packages until July 1. Pushing its restart back two weeks from the previous date of June 17.

The company-which is praised for its treatment of customers during the corona crisis-is transparent in its approach.

The health and safety of passengers and staff is the "absolute priority" it says.

While promising to whisk people away "on their much-needed holidays" as soon as possible, with proper safety measures onboard.

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