NEWS: More green list predictions & travel select committee, Israel reopens with a catch and Lloyds Avios card closing

Tel Aviv

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More green list predictions & travel industry voice concerns

I have been listening the Travel Select Committee about the Global Task Force report. The frustration from the travel industry was palpable. As Huw Merriman asked “Is the government paying lip service to reopening?” which given the amount of testing even for green is understandable. All the respondents in the meeting were fairly scathing that although the government said that it would be a joint task force with industry professionals, that their opinions were pretty much ignored. While they consulted all the industry as part of the process, the task force then made its report without any chance for the industry professionals to comment or debate the report. The main gripes from the travel industry was the lack of notice of which countries will be on the green list which has no firm date (early May). Secondly, the amount of testing required even for very low-risk countries and the cost of those tests.

With 22 countries already announcing that they will offer reduced or no testing/quarantine for vaccinated travellers, the industry would like the UK to be doing the same. I agree with this. Last year we could freely travel back into the UK from many countries with no testing. Yet now a fully vaccinated person will have to be tested twice to come back from a very low-risk country!

The second biggest concern was that the border will not be able to cope. Heathrow’s Chief Solutions Officer was clear that the border will not cope. This I believe is a very real concern as I have stated before. Given that improvements to the PLF forms to make sure you can’t submit the form until you have done all the required actions will not happen until July, there is going to be a very serious issue. This week there was a seven hour queue at T2 at Heathrow for immigration. That is with travel being illegal and limited flights running. Can you imagine the scenes from 17 May? There is no excuse for this and it is also not a safe situation cramming that many people into a confined space from all different destinations!

I recently published travel consultant, Paul Charles’ prediction for the green list. Another company, Grid Point Consulting has done a detailed analysis that you can read here of the likely countries for the green list.

Their predictions are:

  • Malta
  • Israel
  • USA
  • Australia
  • Iceland
  • New Zealand
  • Ireland
  • Gibraltar

Given that some of those countries are either closed to the UK or only open to vaccinated travellers it makes pretty depressing reading. Hopefully, when the US reopens to the UK they will allow all travellers with relevant testing. 

 

Israel to open but with some major catches

Tel Aviv sunset

With the success of their vaccine rollout, it was expected that Israel would reopen to tourists this summer. It is the country with the highest chance of getting on the green list and Tel Aviv makes a great short break with both BA and Virgin flying there.

Israel has announced that it will be reopening its borders to international travellers on 23 May but visitors will have to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. They will also only accept those in groups – which I presume means an organised tour. Numbers of tourists will be controlled.  and will be expected to travel in groups.

However, it should mean that if you are vaccinated you may be able to visit Israel on an organised tour from 23 May. It is expected that they will gradually increase numbers and then, later on, allow individual travellers. 

 

Lloyds Avios card to finally close

The Lloyds Avios cards used to be one of the best points cards available with its rate of earning and upgrade vouchers. Sadly when it went to a Mastercard only the earning rates and perks pretty much diminished to nothing. Lloyds has now announced that they will be closing the card altogether and those who have a card will be transferred to a cashback card. You will earn 0.25% cashback on any purchases up to and including £4,000 and 0.50% on any purchases you make over £4,000.

Obviously, cashback is not the preferred option if you want to earn Avios. Have a look at this article which looks at the best cards for earning points and miles. 

HT: Head for Points

 

8 Comments on "NEWS: More green list predictions & travel select committee, Israel reopens with a catch and Lloyds Avios card closing"

  1. It is disappointing that governments around the world are still behaving in such a parochial manner when dealing with global travel when there are so many qualified professionals in the industry, and IATA, who have the knowledge and expertise to help drive things forward.

    The task force, by essentially ‘muting’ any dissent or open discussion, have also shown the dangers of virtual governance and why it is not always effective, nor appropriate. By default they themselves have given another great reason for the opening up of travel, and why the safe return of face-to-face meetings in the same room is so important.

  2. Is there any further reviews of the traffic light system planned after 17th may? Not the countries but rather the requirements? I was hoping at some point they may review the testing requirements later on to give concessions/reductions of requirements for those vaccinated fully. It is madness they are treated the same as someone who isn’t vaccinated at all, frankly

  3. What annoys me is that whether it’s opening up or travel , no numerical thresholds are given , it’s all so soft. My reading is they want as much scope as possible for moving goal posts as they go along

  4. As a regular (until Covid) BA leisure passenger flying from Edinburgh via Heathrow, I am horrified at the projections for massive hold ups at Heathrow immigration. This makes planning return connections well nigh impossible and makes travel via connections at foreign hubs much more attractive – where services are still running. I appreciate that the worst effects seem to be at T2 rather than T5, but do we have any information or experience of the extent of that difference?

    • I know a number of people that have travelled through T5 flight connections recently, and that is generally fine with only a short wait. Even T5 itself is generally not too bad for wait times. So you should be OK but I am seriously considering something similar such as trying to fly into Southampton or via a third CTA country that I could arrive as domestic.

  5. Why would anyone risk going abroad over the coming months even to a green light Country?? Having to have expensive PCR tests, long queues at the airport and whats to say that Grant Shapps (my MP whose a nasty piece of work) doesn’t suddenly change the traffic light from green to amber or even red at a drop of a hat? We would all be falling over each other to get home overnight! Would you agree Michele?

    • I will be travelling to green countries but much less than I normally would. As we can see from the current situation where India should be on the red list but isn’t, decisions are political, not just safety related. The fact that Boris is due to travel there next week to negotiate a massive trade deal, of course has no bearing on why a country with huge numbers of cases of a double mutation is not on the list! However, I do think that there is much less chance of green going amber, specially at short notice. As they will be based on countries with high vaccination rates, it’s unlikely to suddenly have a surge. There will also be a watch list for countries that may change status and a week’s notice in most cases. So a better situation than last year. However, the amount of tests, the cost and hassle for those fully vaccinated plus the ridiculous border situation will mean most people won’t bother just for a holiday.

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