Many of us will be looking forward to celebrating with friends and family this Christmas, perhaps for the first time since the start of the pandemic. This may involve travel, whether it is going home for the holidays or celebrating in a different country.
As demand increases for air travel, recent problems including cancelled flights and passport delays may persist throughout the Christmas period. However, there are things you can do to help your travel plans go as smoothly as possible.
The Consumer Council’s Top Travel Tips, below, will help you prepare in advance for a hassle-free trip without unnecessary additional expense.
- Check the latest travel requirements before you travel – Whilst Covid restrictions have mostly been removed, it is wise to check Government guidelines both at home and especially at your destination.
- Check your passport is valid – Apply well in advance if you need a new passport and always check requirements before booking your tickets as the length of time required on your passport’s validity depends on the country you are visiting.
- Be flexible when you book – Consider flexible airfares and accommodation with a cancellation option. They may be a little more expensive but could save you money if you are forced to cancel your trip for personal reasons.
- Know your rights – Brush up on your consumer rights when it comes to delayed or cancelled flights or sailings. You may be entitled to a refund and compensation. Contact the Consumer Council for free advice.
- Get travel insurance – Get your insurance well in advance of travel and make sure it covers your needs, including that it covers you if you are flying or sailing from the Republic of Ireland.
- Leave plenty of time – Allow for unforeseen delays, such as a long queue at security or delayed flights, during your outbound and return journeys.
- Pre-book airport car parking – If travelling by car as it often costs less than paying on arrival.
- Pre-book hold baggage – To avoid additional fees at check-in.
- Check-in online – Doing so in advance of travel will help avoid additional charges.
- Know any hand luggage allowances and restrictions – These vary between airlines and are often strictly enforced. Do not rely on previous experience as airlines change their allowances.
- Travel light – if possible, only take hand luggage to avoid waiting at luggage carousels and the potential for lost luggage.
- Do not wrap gifts before going to the airport – Security may want to inspect your bag.
- Pre-book special assistance – If you have a disability or reduced mobility book assistance 48 hours in advance to ensure availability.
- Get a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) –- If travelling to EU countries, a GHIC card will give access to health care at a reduced cost or sometimes for free.
- Check communication – read all emails and texts from your airline and check its website to ensure that your flight is still going as scheduled. Contact the airline immediately to make alternative arrangements if it has been cancelled.
You can find out more information on your air and sea passenger rights by contacting the Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022, or visiting https://www.consumercouncil.org.uk/consumers/rights-and-advice/travel