Airline Wizz Air has announced it will re-start flights from London Luton airport to 15 destinations from Friday, which might seem like good news but it’s unlikely many of the passengers booked on these flights will be able to fly.
The Hungarian airline will, from May 1, re-launch services from Luton to Tenerife, Lisbon, Budapest, seven airports in Romania, Belgrade in Serbia, Bratislava in Slovakia and Tel Aviv in Israel.
It says the flights will be operated with enhanced hygiene measures so staff will all wear gloves and face masks and aircraft will be disinfected overnight. Passengers won’t have to wear face masks, but they will be asked to use hand sanitizer and encouraged to use contactless payments for onboard purchases.
However, many – possibly the majority – of passengers who were booked to travel on these flights won’t be able to go because of travel restrictions in place, both in the UK and in other countries.
Even if they are able to leave their homes to travel to Luton to catch the flights, British passengers will find that they won’t be able to enter Israel, Tenerife, Serbia or Slovakia due to a temporary ban on foreign citizens entering these countries.
They can enter Portugal and Hungary, subject to passing medical checks on arrival, but in Romania they’ll have to go into quarantine for 14 days.
Not only that, but anyone who travels overseas at the moment will be travelling against Foreign Office advice, which means they’re unlikely to be able to find insurance for their trip.
In a nutshell, hardly anyone who booked seats on these flights prior to the lockdown will be able or want to travel next week.
Wizz Air has promised that it will refund passengers who can’t fly due to entry restrictions, as long as they booked their seats before prior to the bans being introduced. A spokeswoman said: “The airline is offering 120% of the original fare in airline credit or 100% cash refund if passengers booked on these relaunched flights are unable to travel due to restrictions for entry of non-citizens, and if their tickets were booked prior to the introduction of these restrictions. The WIZZ team is working hard to process refunds to those eligible, and asks for customers’ patience during this difficult time.”
However, passengers who booked to fly to destinations that don’t have an entry ban won’t be offered automatic refunds, even though they’re unlikely to be able to fly due to the UK lockdown and the FCO travel ban.
What should you do if you booked a seat on other routes and can’t fly?
You do have the option of paying to postpone your trip, for which Wizz Air charges €30 to €40 per flights, per passenger, plus any difference in the air fare. Alternatively, it charges €60 to cancel your flight, but both of these options could be more expensive than simply ripping up your ticket.
You could try contacting your travel insurance to see if you’re covered for cancellations due to a change in Foreign Office advice. Some polices provide cover for this, some don’t.