Simon Calder answers 24 of your burning traffic light travel questions

The travel correspondent of The Independent is often to be discovered within the modern Bibliotekstan district of Stockholm, sharing recollections and a glass of Arctic akvavit with assorted members of Abba.

But because the musicians talked wistfully about Our Last Summer, he slipped away to sort out your urgent questions for an hour. These are the best hits.

Testing instances

Q: Do you assume the day two take a look at for inexperienced checklist nations will nonetheless be in play over the following few months? I’m ready to e book my take a look at till the final minute after we go in October in case it’s not wanted and would have been wasted cash.


A: Thank you for giving me the chance to warn individuals not even to consider reserving the so-called “day two” take a look at till the evening earlier than departure again to the UK. There isn’t any upside in reserving it earlier, only a potential draw back.

The testing necessities for the UK are frankly ludicrous. I can see some advantage in a pre-departure take a look at – as long as it’s professionally performed – however to insist on an costly and onerous PCR take a look at after arrival within the UK, even for totally vaccinated travellers from low danger nations, appears unsustainably weird. It can be serving to to destroy the inbound travel trade.

Sooner or later, authorities ministers will discover – maybe beginning with the Treasury questioning the place all of the tax revenues from the travel trade have gone. At that time the testing regime shall be taken down a number of notches. But who is aware of when that could be?

The ridiculous testing guidelines can’t (I hope) get any sillier, which implies that there’s at all times an opportunity the requirement shall be dropped earlier than you’re resulting from travel house.

And the “day two” take a look at will be taken on the day of arrival within the UK or both of the 2 following days.

Q: I’m touring to Spain for six days later this month. I do know I’ve to e book a PCR take a look at for after my return to the UK from Spain. But do I have to e book a pre-departure lateral take a look at to get on the aircraft from Spain earlier than I depart the UK, or am I secure to discover a take a look at when in Malaga space?

“Slad Valley”

A: Please don’t take a lateral stream take a look at with you to Spain. It is much simpler and extra accountable to purchase a take a look at regionally, usually for round €30 (£25). You should take the take a look at both on the day of departure to the UK or one of the previous three days. If you’re in a busy vacationer space, I feel you may be exhausting pressed to keep away from numerous invites to take your take a look at to fly. And simply in case this doesn’t occur, there’s a testing station at Malaga airport that prices solely €25.

Q: Is it positively okay to do a self-administered take a look at in Spain to fly house? I wish to take a paid one with me to keep away from the stress of discovering a clinic, as there will not be many within the space I’m travelling to.

Poppy Anneliese

A: Bizarrely, given the scope for abuse and fraud, it’s authorized to take a personal self-administered take a look at in Spain – one that you’ve got paid for, quite than an NHS lateral stream machine. But in phrases of effectiveness, a professionally administered take a look at is finest.

Every Spanish airport that has flights to the UK additionally has a minimum of one testing centre, with costs at round €30.

Q: I’m heading to Lisbon for the weekend. Can I take a lateral stream within the UK on the Thursday for entry to Portugal on Friday, and can the identical take a look at be okay for re-entry to UK on the Sunday?


A: Yes. This is one of the few events when the really inexplicable UK testing guidelines can work to your benefit. The take a look at to fly again to the UK will be taken on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Since Portugal requires a unfavorable take a look at consequence to enter, then fortunately the identical certificates will apply for each outbound and inbound journeys.

Q: When will pre-departure checks to get again into the UK be scrapped? Any concepts? This is the principle factor making me reluctant to travel overseas. I can’t afford the additional time or value within the occasion of a constructive. I’m double jabbed.

LST 88

A: No thought. I’m afraid testing constructive overseas is a danger that each traveller should take. If the results of this occurring are too excessive for your private circumstances, you then merely shouldn’t be travelling overseas – until you go to Ireland, from the place neither testing nor quarantine is required.

Some individuals within the travel trade accuse the federal government of intentionally stirring up uncertainty with such measures, with a purpose to dampen demand for abroad holidays.

Q: I’ve a four-day journey to Iceland deliberate for October, for the take a look at earlier than we return house. Is it OK to take and use one of the lateral stream checks I get in a field from NHS through my employer?


A: No. You might want to take a personal take a look at in Iceland. The solely time that NHS take a look at can be utilized for travel is inside the UK: both between the Scottish mainland and islands, or between Northern Ireland and the remainder of the UK. These checks are voluntary, however beneficial by the governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively.

Jab journeys

Q: I’m one of the 5 million that had the Indian-made AstraZeneca. I’m determined to go to Italy to see household however don’t have sufficient time to consider 5 days’ quarantine.


A: Sorry to listen to of your considerations. I’m glad to say I’ve heard no instances in any way through which individuals with the AstraZeneca Indian made vaccine have encountered issues going into Italy.

Red checklist alerts

Q: I’m resulting from have a household vacation in Turkey on 20 October and am now extraordinarily frightened that we received’t make it, particularly as their instances appear to be growing barely. An additional complication, is that I’ve to pay for my lodging earlier than the top of the month, so can’t await the evaluation at starting of October. I believed it might be upgraded on the final evaluation however sadly not. How possible is it that Turkey will go amber on the following evaluation please?


A: I feel it’s extra possible than not that your journey will go forward, as a result of the crimson checklist score for Turkey appears more and more unsustainable. I’m confused about why you would want to pay for lodging? Even although it’s half time period, I can’t see any method that inns would promote out. So rationally you possibly can cancel (or just not pay for) the lodging, and wait to see what the UK authorities does. There are a minimum of two extra evaluations (15/16 September and 6/7 October) to go earlier than your journey.

Q: Currently there aren’t any direct flights to Turkey. If it have been to go to amber do you foresee the airways placing on flights at quick discover ? many thanks


A: I’m confused by your assertion that there aren’t any direct flights to Turkey, as a result of proper now on the Heathrow web site I see that Turkish Airlines flight TK1986 is getting ready for an on-time departure from Gate B43 at Terminal 2 in 17 minutes.

Certainly there are only a few flights to coastal/vacation airports; extra might be introduced if Turkey goes amber.

Q: Booked for my fortieth birthday In the Maldives, scheduled departure on 21 September. What are my probabilities of getting my birthday want?

Matt Okay

A: Pretty excessive. It is obscure the governments reasoning for retaining the Maldives on the crimson checklist, however that doesn’t essentially imply that it will likely be moved to amber I’m afraid.

Airport checks

Q: I’ve a Ryanair flight reserving in a pair of weeks, flying Liverpool to Corfu. When I’ve gone to examine in on-line there’s a word about travelling on a non-EU doc and needing print my boarding go and to undergo their visa-check course of earlier than safety.

Elsewhere it says I can nonetheless use a cellular boarding go. This appears contradictory, do I have to undergo the visa-check course of?

Helen L

A: Standard process on Ryanair and plenty of different airways at current is that your paperwork should be checked landside – ie within the examine in space – in order that employees can just remember to are correctly documented to go to Greece.

In this case you should present you’ve accomplished a passenger locator type for Greece (by 10pm UK time, the evening earlier than travel) and, when you want to keep away from testing or quarantine, proving that you’ve got been totally vaccinated.

Traffic lights

Q: Due to travel to Greece on 11 September for per week and so shall be there on the subsequent evaluation. What are the probabilities Greece will keep amber?

If the worst occurred and we examined constructive earlier than returning to the U.Okay., would we’ve got to quarantine in Greece?

Mel G

A: I don’t assume there’s a lot probability of Greece going inexperienced, although maybe one or two islands would possibly do. I imagine there’s nearly zero prospect of it going crimson.

Greece is one of the higher organised nations through which to seek out your self within the tender mercies of the well being authorities. The nation will present a lodge room and meals when you isolate, at no cost to you. Airlines are typically extraordinarily versatile for individuals who take a look at constructive and can let you transfer flights.

The essential downside is the take a look at earlier than departure to the UK. The NHS recommends that individuals who have not too long ago recovered from Covid take a lateral stream take a look at for this objective, as a result of it’s much less delicate than a PCR take a look at. Unfortunately, you’re going to must have a PCR take a look at after arrival within the UK, which can present a risk the place none exists – and oblige you to self-isolate for an extra 10 days.

The authorities has but to deal with this bizarre state of affairs.

North American ambitions

Q: I’m resulting from fly to Canada on Tuesday, the day the borders are presupposed to open. It’s nonetheless listed as a tentative opening date on the canada gov website. What do you assume the probabilities of it not opening are? And additionally, and recommendation on the 14 day quarantine plan it’s a must to submit as we’re solely there for 10 days and staying with associates.

“Muttz Muttz”

A: The nearer we get to 7 September, the extra possible it’s that Canada’s plan to reopen to vaccinated travellers from world wide will go forward as deliberate.

The Foreign Office web site: “Fully vaccinated travellers who are eligible to enter Canada are no longer required to quarantine on arrival.” So it’s best to escape the necessity to self-isolate.

Q:  I’m resulting from fly to Chicago with BA in October to run the Chicago marathon. Currently we’re on the banned checklist from the UK to the States. Will British Airways give a refund on this as they are going to be unable to fly me as a leisure traveller?

“Tomario 75”

A: This takes me again to early 2020, when many British runners have been booked to Tokyo for the marathon within the Japanese capital. If you’ve paid British Airways for a flight, and that departure goes forward, then the Airline will generously let you cancel any time as much as the shut of check-in, in trade for a voucher for future flights. But a money refund is relevant provided that the precise flight is cancelled.

Q: Any thought when America goes to open up? Virgin have simply cancelled my flights in October.

James Mills

A: The US is in no hurry in any way to reopen to Europeans and another nationalities. The Americans want us lower than we want them.

We are simply coming as much as the three-month anniversary of the transatlantic travel taskforce being arrange. A (*24*) for Transport spokesperson instructed me: “We fully recognise the value of transatlantic routes, which is why fully vaccinated passengers from the US no longer have to quarantine on arrival into the UK.

“As set out in the Global Travel Taskforce, we continue to engage with international partners, including the US, to explore how we can open international travel safely.”

I then requested once more, particularly concerning the transatlantic travel taskforce, and was given the identical response.

Q: We have a vacation booked in Florida for mid-December. What do you assume the chances are on us having the ability to go?


A: Around 80:20 in favour, however please be warned that I’ve been hopelessly overoptimistic concerning the US opening up up to now.

Q: Any thought about UK-US travel hall? We have a villa and flights booked for a marriage and needs to be leaving on 10 December. But we have to change by with weeks earlier than or danger dropping the cash for the villa.

“Pension Bloke”

A: Delighted to listen to about your plans – however if you’re returning earlier than about 20 December, there isn’t a level pre-booking a villa, particularly since we might not be allowed to go to the US. I can assure there shall be a lot of availability throughout the pre-Christmas off-season.

Cruise conundrum

Q: MSC’s Virtuosa has been doing round-Britain cruises this summer season. I’ve noticed that there’s a alternative of boarding (and disembarking) at Southampton or Liverpool. In my expertise, it prices round £200 extra to e book from Liverpool, for presumably precisely the identical product. For these of us within the northwest it’s really cheaper to travel to Southampton and sail from there. Do you’ve any thought why the identical vacation would value extra from Liverpool?

Philippa B

A: It could also be that the port prices for MSC are totally different, for instance as a result of of a “bulk discount” at Southampton for a big quantity of departures. But I imagine the true purpose will be summed up in a single phrase: competitors. There is an abundance of rivalry between cruise strains at Southampton, which typically has extra departures than all different UK ports mixed.

Today and over the weekend, there are 4 sailings on three totally different strains. Add in extra departures from Portsmouth (simply down the street from Southampton), Dover and Tilbury, and it’s clear that the south/southeast of England is much more aggressive than Liverpool – which has no sailings till Tuesday subsequent week.

Effectively, potential cruisers such as you in Merseyside and the broader space are being requested to pay a premium for a neighborhood embarkation. Of course it’s solely as much as you both to simply accept the worth quoted or to decide on to make the four-hour-plus journey by street or rail to Hampshire.

A extra economical choice, although, may merely be to attend till the previous few days earlier than departure. I sailed aboard MSC’s Virtuosa on her first cruise this summer season (a four-day journey from Southampton) and paid over £800 for the privilege. I regarded that nearly as good worth for cash. But I met individuals on board who had booked three days forward and paid solely £300.

While I’ve not beforehand encountered such sharp drops in worth (the largest in my expertise has been round a 50 per cent low cost), it’s solely attainable that there could also be giant cuts previous to Liverpool departure. One purpose: there’s a smaller catchment space than Southampton.

Island desires

Q: Is it fairly secure from a cancellation/disruption perspective to e book per week’s British Airways vacation (flight plus lodge) in Crete for two October?

David L

A: I might haven’t any downside reserving such a visit for early October. But as a result of of the totally unpredictable and arbitrary nature of authorities selections on travel, I would favor to not commit till 1 October.

Q: Antigua are insisting on double vaccinated guests solely after 1 October. Children will not be talked about. Do you assume this implies no household holidays there?

Amanda A

A: Generally tourism-dependent nations are comparatively lenient in direction of unvaccinated kids: if their mother and father have been jabbed, they’re allowed in (probably with testing).

Passport issues

Q: I’ve booked flights to Porto for subsequent weekend as a birthday shock for my associate. I’ve simply came upon concerning the new passport guidelines after Brexit. His passport is over 10 years outdated (though it solely expires in Feburary).

We travelled from Barcelona final week and he had no issues, however I’m questioning whether or not I ought to cancel the journey. Are there any methods of getting a passport renewed categorical?

Marta S

A: Under European guidelines that apply for the reason that UK determined to go away the EU, a passport should be issued lower than 10 12 months in the past. So this won’t work.

If it’s a easy renewal, then a same-day service is pricey however achievable. That is what I might suggest.

Regarding your arrival final week: coming into the UK from the EU, your passport is legitimate as much as and together with the date of expiry, so a visit from Barcelona sounds completely regular. But when you had gone on the market a pair of days beforehand, then I recommend you’ve been extraordinarily lucky.

Family issues

Q: I’m a determined grandma who needs to go to my 22 month grandson in Stockholm after a 12 months. Sweden has prolonged its travel ban till 31 October. Any thought if they’ll elevate it then? Can I fly to Denmark after which on to Sweden to get around the ban?


A: Because of the excessive and sustained UK Covid an infection charges, many nations impose extreme restrictions on British travellers. However these nearly all apply to direct arrivals.

So going through a 3rd nation is commonly answer. You should make sure that the intermediate nation is completely satisfied to welcome you, and fulfil no matter necessities your closing vacation spot has for individuals who have not too long ago been within the UK.

In your case, the omens look good. The Swedish police say: “Sweden will always apply entry regulations according to the last country you enter from, even if this is only a transit country.

“No entry ban or negative covid test is required when travelling directly from another Nordic coun

Q: I am trying to find a way of visiting my 82-year-old sister who has dementia. I have a valid Esta but am finding it very hard to get a response to my request for a waiver from the presidential proclamation on Covid on compassionate grounds.

I notice Canada is opening up on 7 September. Is it easier to enter the USA from there?

I’m afraid that if I wait any longer my sister will not remember me.

Name supplied

A: I am sorry to hear of these sad circumstances. Laundering your UK status in Mexico (staying there for two weeks) is a relatively cheap and effective way around the US rules. Canada could also be a possibility from next week.

But have you asked your MP to lobby on your behalf with the American embassy? When compassion is part of the picture, an MP’s intervention can often help.

Flight delays

Q: We flew to Madeira with Wizz Air in July. Our afternoon flight was postponed to the following day an hour before departure. We were put up in a hotel overnight by Wizzair and flown out the following afternoon. We lost a day of our holiday. Are we entitled to compensation? I submitted a claim but Wizzair refused it, claiming the flight was only delayed for three hours (bizarre). I can’t call anyone and they’ve only given me a link to a Hungarian website to escalate it further. What can I do? Would appreciate your advice. It was a stressful experience all round.

J Flower

A: Sorry to hear about your experience. Unless the airline can demonstrate that extraordinary circumstances led to the delay in your flight, then it must pay you £350 in compensation. But Madeira has an infamously tricky airport location, with many weather-related cancellations and diversions. If this was the cause, then there is no payment due.

J Flower then wrote: “It wasn’t because of the weather, it was because they didn’t have a pilot. If it was due to poor weather I would’ve accepted it, safety first.”

A: In that case I recommend you write a Letter Before Action to Wizz Air’s Luton airport workplaces, and comply with that up by way of Money Claim Online if you’re not glad.