Before England enters its second lockdown, what are your options if you’re abroad right now?

Nov 3, 2020

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Following Saturday’s announcement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that England is set to go under a second national lockdown, it left many Britons with questions. What does the lockdown mean for your future holiday? Will airlines refund you the cost of your flight? And what about if you’re abroad right now?

For the latter, there’s no need to fear at this point. If you’re not due to return back to England until after the 5 November lockdown kicks in, you still have options.

While the travel restrictions that come into place as of 5 November mean that domestic and international travel is banned unless deemed essential, all current regulations regarding travel corridors and quarantine restrictions remain in place.

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In other words, if you’re currently in a country that is exempt from mandatory quarantine on return to England, the new lockdown restrictions haven’t changed that. You will still need to quarantine for 14 days when you return to England if you’re coming from a non-travel corridor holiday. Likewise, if you are returning from a travel corridor destination, you can abide by the new lockdown restrictions without having to fully quarantine.

Here are three options to consider if you’re still abroad right now.

In This Post

Option 1: Stay abroad

The U.K. government has neither called for nor advised the immediate return to England of English residents who are currently abroad. Therefore, at this time and as of 5 November, you are under no obligation to cut your trip short.

At the same time, given the situation, it’s worth noting that airlines may reduce their schedule in November and beyond, meaning that your return flight could get cancelled at short notice.

“Following the government’s sudden announcement today, EasyJet will operate its planned schedule until Thursday and will be reviewing its flying programme over the lockdown period,” EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren said in a statement, according to The Independent. “It is likely that much of the UK touching schedule will be cancelled during lockdown with our planned flying set to resume in early December.”

The worst-case scenario would mean trying to find a last-minute route home. However, under European regulations, you are largely protected from incurring any additional costs if your flight home is cancelled.

That said, as of time of publication, we’re not seeing any evidence of mass cancellations. It’s entirely possible that your return flight may not be cancelled at all. If you choose to stay abroad, that is a risk you must be willing to take.

Related: What happens if you ignore government advice to travel right now?

Option 2: Return home and change existing flight

If you don’t want to chance it and want to get home as soon as possible before the lockdown comes into effect, you can check your airline’s coronavirus change policy.

Most, if not all, airlines have abolished change fees as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, there is often a deadline for the last point at which a flight can be changed for free. For example, with EasyJet, changes must be made at least 14 days before departure. So if you’re already abroad, the chances are you will be within 14 days of your return flight and would incur a fee to move it forward to before 5 November.

Keep in mind that even with flexible rebooking policies, many airlines will still require you to pay the fare difference if there is one.

Option 3: Return home and book a new flight

If, for whatever reason, you are unable to change your flight and you want to return to England before Thursday, then the alternative is to book a brand new one-way flight.

Here are some options to look at when planning your return flight home:

  • Consider more than just your local home airport(s). Flying to a different airport could save you money, even with the addition of the cost of getting to your home from the new airport;
  • Consider flying from a different airport than the one you flew to if it’s possible to travel safely and cost-effectively in the country you’re in. Once again, this could ultimately save you money and there could be a wider selection of flights to England from a different airport; and
  • Consider using air miles. For example, a last-minute redemption booking from most places in Europe can set you back less than the cost of a cash ticket — especially when booking last-minute travel. There are various combinations of Avios and cash fares available to you when searching for availability on ba.com — the most value-for-money option often being 4,000 Avios and £17.50, depending on where you’re travelling from.

Related: How I used BA’s rebooking policy to save more than £150

Bottom line

If you’re abroad right now, you are under no obligation to cut your trip short. However, if you do want to return to England earlier than planned, there are several options when planning your last-minute flight.

As always, try to be as flexible as possible when considering your options as there is often money to be saved by being creative with your travel.

Featured photo by Fiodaliso/Getty Images.

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