With numerous travel disruptions recently caused by airline cancellations and security delays, the Consumer Council has revealed its top travel tips for Northern Ireland travellers now that the summer holiday period is upon us.
Richard Williams, head of transport at the organisation said: “This summer many consumers will be looking forward to a foreign holiday, perhaps their first since the start of the pandemic. As demand increases for air travel, recent problems including cancelled flights and passport delays may persist throughout the summer.
"However, there are things you can do to help your travel plans go as smoothly as possible. Our top travel tips 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 – If you need to apply for a new passport to travel, check with the passport issuer how long in advance of your travel date you should apply. Always apply well in advance as a delay in issuing passports could mean you will be unable to travel. The length of time you need on your passport’s validity depends on the country you are visiting. Always check the requirements before booking your tickets.
•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.
•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.
•Travel light – if possible, only take hand luggage to avoid waiting at luggage carousels and the potential for lost luggage.
•Pre-book special assistance – If you have a disability or reduced mobility, ensure the assistance is available. Book it 48 hours in advance to be sure.
•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.
•Shop around for your travel money – To ensure you get the payment method that suits you and the best exchange rate.
Richard added: “Whilst the vast majority of flights are still operating this summer, some airlines are cancelling a number of their flights. You should read all emails and texts from your airline and check its website to ensure that your flight is still going as scheduled and 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 www.consumercouncil.org.uk