NEWS: BA and Singapore to operate approved VTL flights to SIN, Canada vaccine mandate & quarantine plan, CMA closes BA refund investigation

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BA and Singapore to operate approved VTL flights to SIN

Previously I wrote about the steps that Singapore is taking to allowed vaccinated UK visitors into Singapore using the quarantine-free Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) that they have been trialling with Germany and other countries. At the time it was not known who would operate the flights as you need to fly on approved flights to be allowed to not quarantine. I speculated that it would probably be Singapore Airlines and British Airways and this has now been confirmed. You can read the original article here with the main points of what is needed to enter Singapore using this scheme.

We now know what tests will be required too which don’t sound very onerous at all. From 19th October 2021, only two COVID-19 PCR tests will be required for VTL countries – a pre-departure (within 48 hours) and an on-arrival test. You have to isolate at your booked accommodation until you get your negative results for the on-arrival test but these usually come back within 6 hours.

The NHS app will be accepted for proof of vaccination. 

Here is the timetable of VTL flights from the UK currently:

BA will also be providing flights but has not yet announced which ones and when they will start.

You must not have spent any time within the last 14 days outside a VTL country and that includes transit. However, a number of European countries are now going to be part of the scheme which leaves some room for ex EU departures providing they are direct and a VTL flight. 

I really enjoyed my flights with Singapore Airlines. You can read about them here. 

 

CMA closes BA investigation (and Ryanair) for refunds

In June 2021, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a probe into BA and Ryanair over concerns they may have broken the law by failing to offer refunds for flights customers could not legally take during periods of lockdown. Instead, British Airways offered customers vouchers or rebooking and Ryanair provided the option to rebook.

Personally, I didn’t have much of an issue with BA refunds. A few were a bit slow to begin with but generally, they were fairly quick compared to many other airlines. I soon spent any vouchers that I had. However, for many, having a voucher instead of a refund when the flight was still going but they were not permitted to take it, was a problem financially. It’s worth noting that BA Holidays had a different policy to flight only and I got refunds for holidays due in lockdown. 

The CMA has concluded that the law does not provide passengers with a sufficiently clear right to a refund in these unusual circumstances to justify continuing with the case.

Consumer protection law sets out that passengers are entitled to refunds when an airline cancels a flight because the airline cannot provide its contracted services. However, it does not clearly cover whether people should be refunded when their flight goes ahead but they are legally prohibited from taking it.

Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said:

We strongly believe people who are legally prevented from taking flights due to lockdown laws should be offered a full refund and we launched this investigation in the hope that we would be able to secure a positive outcome for consumers. However, after considering the relevant law and gathering evidence in our investigation, we have concluded that the length of time that would be required to take this case through the courts, and the uncertain outcome, can no longer justify the further expense of public money.

Given the importance of this to many passengers who have unfairly lost out, we hope that the law in this area will be clarified.

In the package travel sector, customers are protected by a separate set of laws, the Package Travel Regulations, which give consumers refund rights that the CMA was able to enforce. 

For more information, visit the COVID-19: lockdown flight refunds page.

 

Canada vaccine mandate & quarantine plans for arrivals

Canada Place, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Canada Place, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Starting from 30 October, the Canadian government will require all air travelers and passengers on interprovincial trains to be vaccinated against COVID-19. This was previously announced in August but is now being enforced. Obviously, if you have entered Canada you are probably vaccinated, but it’s worth bearing in mind that you will need the vaccine proof throughout your travels domestically. 

The vaccine requirement does not apply to travelers under 12. A short transition period will allow travellers who are in the process of getting vaccinated to board if they can show a PCR  test within 72 hours of travel, but only until 30 November.

There will only be a few extremely narrow exceptions like a valid medical condition.

Quarantine plans for arrivals

It’s also worth knowing that you need to submit a “quarantine plan” which is in case you are told you do not meet the criteria for entering and need to quarantine. Information on how you do this is sparse, but you are required to submit your plan in advance so hopefully, if it was not adequate they would let you know. Personally, I’d book the cheapest hotel that is non-refundable at the point of entry. It’s not clear if it is necessary but that’s the simplest plan. 

You are meant to consider things such as 

  • The location of your 14-day quarantine
  • How you will travel to your quarantine location
  • Arrangements for your necessary support such as food, medication, child care, or cleaning supplies

If you would want to quarantine in more than one location, you are advised to contact the CBSA for advice. Hopefully, you have more luck than I did. I contacted the Canadian authorities to attempt to get clarity and they just ignored my question and sent me back a link to the existing advice. Very helpful – not!

Have you travelled to Canada since it reopened? What did you do for your quarantine plan? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

 

13 Comments on "NEWS: BA and Singapore to operate approved VTL flights to SIN, Canada vaccine mandate & quarantine plan, CMA closes BA refund investigation"

  1. I’ve just got back to the U.K. from a holiday in Canada. When completing the quarantine plan questions it just asked me what I would do if I needed to quarantine and I said that I would stay in a hotel. It asked me if I would be able to get food etc. I don’t recall having to name the hotel but if I did I would have just entered the first hotel I was staying in. It was really easy. Kind of a box ticking exercise honestly. I didn’t have to provide proof of the hotel booking either.

  2. Also just arrived back from Canada. We did have to name a property at some point during the ArriveCAN process so we just put the first hotel we were staying in. At immigration we were briefly asked about our itinerary/plans for our 3 week stay, the agent didn’t seem to be at all concerned that we were moving around.

    It’s worth noting that we and everyone we could see around us off our flight was “randomly” selected for a PCR on arrival into Vancouver but the process didn’t take long at all and we were through the airport and in an Uber in ~45mins.

    Although the ArriveCAN app is a bit rubbish and not the easiest to navigate at times once you’ve submitted all the info and got your code it’s relatively easy to navigate the rest of the process. I would recommend saving a copy of your vaccination certificate onto your phone for the trip as you have to show it to enter all bars and restaurants if you wish to dine inside. Paper copies are still useful for the airport/immigration as well.

    • Oh and make sure you always carry a form of photo ID (driving license was enough) that matches your vaccination certificate. Without ID you’re not getting in anywhere.

  3. We arrived in Toronto the first day they let tourist in and during the flight they sent an email saying they had updated the ArriveCan app and our previously accepted application was nil and void – so had to add all documents again using the poor airport wifi. Apart from that the process was a piece of cake. Will be going back again for my birthday if we can’t get into the USA

  4. Ref Canadian travel, what is the firm advice for children above 12 but less than 18yrs old when it comes to vaccine status? Seems north american travel with a family is not clear at all, very frustrating.

  5. Flew to Toronto on 23rd September. Apparently, a quarantine plan that included getting a hire car and driving 200+ miles down to stay with my brother in his house in Windsor was acceptable, though I did say we would be able to isolate from each other.

  6. Just back from Canada: can’t stress enough the importance of completing ArrivCan and Verify (we flew BA), and reading/rereading all government advice. Plus having paper copies of all documents. Preparation and understanding the rules are key!

  7. We are currently in Canada. We prepared a paper version of a plan that included a hotel that had studio apartments in case we did have to quarantine, we did not book the hotel, we also included plans of how we could acquire food and drink, that amounted to web sites of companies that delivered food or groceries, that was plan A, we also included a plan B, which was our pre booked intinery. People are chosen at random for a COVID test on arrival, that we presume was the trigger to need plan A. The facility they had for testing on arrival was huge with many staff, which could mean they could cope with testing a whole plane full if they wished too. Travelling to the US today, fingers crossed.
    The immigration staff did not ask to see the document

  8. Stephen Morrissey | 11 October 2021 at 2:31 pm | Reply

    BA and Aer Lingus issued full refunds due to flight cancellations to us (because of Covid) several months ago. Within 2 weeks.

    Arrived in YYZ from Cancun a few days ago. Getting out of Cancun was a sh$t show of confusion but YYZ took only 5 minutes to be cleared. ArriveCan App was useful.

  9. Still waiting after 3 weeks for a BA voucher cash refund after using a long hall avios one to book europe flights (from LGW now LHR possibly LGW again).

  10. Hello from Toronto.

    We came here last week. The form was relatively straightforward. I am staying with my brother and was asked for his address which came up as I typed it in. I confirmed we could isolate (e.g. in a spare room or basement) and that we could get food (delivery I suppose or access kitchen when not being used). The only worry was that as an essential worker (medical professional working in a hospital) I had to mention this as it was a question. The form was approved as we met all requirements (including loading vaccination certificate and negative test) but there was a code on the screen that referenced this fact.

    At YYZ immigration, the officer made no mention of this point and let us through with limited questions.

  11. I am currently in Toronto. I filled out the form via the ArriveCAN app which I thought was so easy to do (easier than our equivalent!) and when it asked me for a quarantine plan – I simply put the hotel I was going to stay in at the time (I flew into Vancouver) and that seemed sufficient. I didn’t pre-book 14 days just in case I had to self isolate, just a plan of what I would do if I had to self isolate. I showed the immigration officer the receipt I received once I completed the form and he proceeded me on. Arriving into Canada was actually the quickest immigration experience I’ve ever experienced even pre-covid!

    Be sure to save your coronavirus vaccination record to a PDF document as you will need it to enter restaurants, bars, museums & pretty much anywhere that is indoors. You also need ID – I used my driving license which is acceptable.

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