NEWS: Government rules out regional travel corridors, insurance company covering FCO in Europe & Lufthansa to ditch First?

Lufthansa First Class Cabin 2010, A380 // Lufthansa First Class Kabine 2010, A380 CGI, Computer generated imagery available size only 2400px

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Government rules out regional travel corridors within countries

With the general mess that is the government’s quarantine policy, airlines and travel countries have been calling for a better option for people to travel safely. As more and more countries are removed from the list with less than 48 hours notice, travellers are becoming nervous about booking anything more than a few days in advance.

Grant Shapps

Gatwick Airport had joined others in asking the UK government to allow regional travel corridors. After all, they originally had the FCO advice regionally with Madeira and the Azores on the exemption list despite Portugal not being on the list. So why could they not do it for other situations like the Canary Island and Balearics? I can understand that doing it for parts of a mainland country is pretty tricky, but I think for islands that are hundreds of miles away from the mainland it’s pretty different. 

However, despite saying initially that they would consider this option, yesterday Grant Shapps told Sky News that they had ruled out regional rules except for islands . He said, 

“It is still rather too difficult to do the kind of regionalisation that you’re talking about because we just don’t have the same control elsewhere.”

“This is a very unpredictable virus which unfortunately just doesn’t play ball as far as the way that it can just sometimes take off in a country and I think anyone travelling this year will know that there are risks involved,” 

 However he also said to the BBC that he had not ruled out islands.

He said: “Where there are islands, I think it’s something we have said before we will look at and we are looking at. It depends on levels of data you have.

Hopefully the government will not keep delaying the decision on islands for much longer. Given that data is available for many islands such as Madeira and the Canary Islands, the travel industry desparately needs a more pragmatic approach urgently.

The insurance company covering countries with FCO “essential travel only” in Europe

If you actually don’t mind the 14-day quarantine when you return from a country not on the travel corridor list, the main hurdle will be travel insurance. Although you would be covered by an EHIC card until the end of December 2020, this only covers emergency treatment. If you want a full policy you would need to get a specialist company such as BattleFace. 

Now Staysure has added an extension you can apply to one of their policies. If the FCO advises against all but essential travel to your destination in Europe because of COVID-19, adding the European FCO Travel Advice Extension to your policy means you can still go on holiday with cover.

You can be covered by your policy limits apart from COVID-19 related claims while you’re away, when travelling to Europe (as well as Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt) for up to 104 days.

So, if your holiday to places like Spain or France can still go ahead and you feel safe enough to do so, then adding the European FCO Travel Advice Extension to your policy means you can still be covered. Obviously not being covered for COVID could be an issue as although you could get treated abroad, if you needed to be airlifted back to the UK, you would not be covered. Also if you had missed your flight due to being ill with COVID then that also would be an issue. 

If an unexpected event occurs while you’re on holiday, and the FCO advises travellers to return home, Staysure will also pay you up to £1,000 for additional accommodation and travel expenses where needed.

You can find more details here. 


Lufthansa to ditch First?

Lufthansa First

The majority of the airlines are ditching their larger, older aircraft such as the B747, A380 and A340s. Lufthansa is currently going through a program post bail out to decide on the structure of its fleet for the next couple of years until travel recovers. It is expected that they are likely to ground the majority of their larger aircraft for an extended period which would include the A380, A340 and potentially the B747. However, this would have the effect of annihilating their entire first class product which is only on these larger aircraft.

Lufthansa are expected to concentrate on their smaller and more efficient B787 and A350s, and eventually the B777X. At Lufthansa 22 aircraft have already been scrapped prematurely since the beginning of the crisis, including six Airbus A380s, eleven A320s and five Boeing 747-400s. 

First class is an interesting conundrum for some airlines currently. It is generally only found on older, larger aircraft which airlines want to get rid of. Yet there is still demand for First particularly on airlines like Lufthansa (and to some extent BA’s old Club World) where social distancing is not great. Lufthansa has a 2-3-2 configuration in business class on some aircraft and even in 2-2-2 there is little divide between seats. Personally I will avoid these types of scenarios and would willingly pay for First to ensure I felt safer. 

HT: Australia’s Executive Traveller