Brits in Spain told by Jet2 to fly home early or risk no return flight to UK

30 July 2020, 20:37

Tourists enjoy a drink at a terrace bar in the English district of Levante in Benidorm
Tourists enjoy a drink at a terrace bar in the English district of Levante in Benidorm. Picture: PA

By Megan White

British holidaymakers in Spain have been urged by Jet2 to return to the UK earlier than planned, or risk having to make their own way home.

The airline has been contacting some customers asking them to fly home early, with flights available until August 3, while many flights have been cancelled.

Travellers returning to the UK from Spain will have to self-isolate for 14 days, however current Government advice is that there is no need to leave the country ahead of schedule.

The UK is advising against non-essential travel to Spain, including the Balearic and Canary Islands.

On Thursday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned travellers that new countries could be added to the quarantine list in the coming days .

He said ministers are looking at ways to reduce the 14-day period, possibly by the use of multiple tests, amid pressure from the tourism industry.

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But he said ministers are constantly considering whether to add countries to the quarantine list and when pressed if new nations could be added in the next few days, he replied: "Yes."

David Jones, who has been touring Spain for two weeks with his partner Helen Rickard, was informed by text that their return flight had been cancelled.

Mr Jones said the company told him over the phone to "make our own arrangements" to get home if they did not want to accept a return flight a week early.

The couple were due to fly home from Alicante on August 8, and have also had a backup return flight with easyJet cancelled with no alternatives offered. They have now had to buy a return flight via Ryanair.

Mr Jones, from the West Midlands, said: "I understand times are difficult. It's why we were prepared for quarantine and had an alternative flight in reserve.

"I'm very disappointed that both companies seem to play fast and loose with their legal obligations."

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Jet2 said that it has taken the decision to suspend flights and holidays to Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Majorca, Menorca and Ibiza up to and including August 9.

Flights to mainland Spain have already been cancelled and the company is operating empty outbound flights to pick customers up, until August 3.

A spokeswoman said: "We are contacting customers who are currently in these destinations to advise them of their options regarding flying back to the UK.

"We appreciate that some of our package holiday customers were due to stay on holiday for longer than this and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

"It is important to note that we are responding to a very fast-moving situation with updates coming from the Government with little or notice, and we have had to make decisions about our programme accordingly.

"We can assure these customers that we will be in touch with them to resolve any issues that they may have."

Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said holidaymakers have been stuck in the middle of a "tug of war" between Government advice and travel company policies.

He said: "The Government had said people on holiday in the Balearic and Canary Islands don't need to return early, but Jet2 has decided that they should.

"Jet2 must now urgently clarify whether this is a requirement or a choice, and make it clear to customers whose package holiday has been cancelled what their rights are to a partial refund for the remainder of their trip.

"The past week has seen utter confusion for holidaymakers. The Government needs to work more closely with the travel industry so that tour operators and airlines can better manage these changing requirements, and holidaymakers aren't caught between following Government advice or potentially losing the money for their holiday."

Mr Hancock also hinted that the length of time people with coronavirus symptoms must self-isolate for will be increased to 10 days in England.

The Health Secretary told LBC's Nick Ferrari that the Government would be "guided by the science" over the length of time people with coronavirus symptoms must self-isolate for, but he revealed there would be an announcement on the matter on Thursday.

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Speaking to LBC Mr Hancock warned, "we can see a second wave of the virus rising in Europe."

Deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van-Tam is expected to announce on Thursday that the period will increase from the current rule of seven days.

Mr Hancock warned that a new spike in Covid-19 cases is "clearly" beginning to emerge in Europe as he said "we've got to do everything" to prevent it reaching the UK's shores.

He hinted that Prof Van-Tam will announce the change for the self-isolation period for those with the key symptoms of a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss of taste or smell.