The evolving travel scenario has prompted airline companies to create new services and packages aimed at easing any concerns tourists might have when planning their holidays this year.
These include four airlines operating flights to Faro Airport and offering a range of options such as new fare bundles (EasyJet), early summer 2022 bookings (Jet2.com), zero change fees (Ryanair) and COVID-19 insurance coverage (Wizz Air) – as well as trials by British Airways of mobile travel health passports.
Standard Plus Fares – EasyJet
EasyJet has introduced a new fare bundle designed to make it easier for customers to see the options available to them at the first stage of booking. According to the company, Standard Plus provides a bundle of products with added benefits for customers, comprising premium seats, large cabin bags, speedy boarding and dedicated EasyJet bag drop.
Customers can still tailor their bookings such as selecting seats or adding a hold bag later in the booking, and the new bundle will complement EasyJet’s existing Standard Fare and Flexi Fare options for customers when choosing a flight.
Announcing details of the fare, EasyJet chief commercial officer Sophie Dekkers said, “Having our three fare options – the Standard Fare where customers can find the lowest prices without any of the extras, the Standard Plus which bundles up key benefits and the Flexi Fare which includes added flexibility – means we can help customers quickly select all the products best suited to their needs.”
Summer 2020 Programme – Jet2.com
Already looking beyond this year, Jet2.com has responded to early demand for summer 2022 holidays by adding thousands of seats to a range of popular hotspots (including Faro) from four UK bases: Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and London Stansted).
“Since we announced the launch of our Summer 22 programme,” said Jet2.com and Jet2holidays CEO Steve Heapy, “the response from customers and independent travel agents has been absolutely magnificent. Our reputation for looking after customers and delivering real package holidays has really cut through, and we have been very encouraged by the number of bookings coming through.
“Customers clearly want their all-important holidays to look forward to, so we have responded quickly by adding more destinations, as well as additional flying to a range of popular hotspots across Europe, the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean.”
Zero Change Fee – Ryanair
Ryanair has announced an extension of its zero flight change fee for all customers who book before 31 March 2021, as well as allowing up to two booking date moves until 31 October 2021.
According to a company spokesman, “If your plans change, so can your booking. To provide as much flexibility and confidence as possible for Ryanair customers, we have extended our € zero flight change fee for all bookings made in January, February and March.
“In light of ever-changing COVID restrictions, Ryanair is giving customers greater peace of mind when booking their Easter and summer 2021 holidays, when Ryanair believes air travel will re-open following the successful roll-out of the COVID vaccines in the UK, Denmark and many other EU states.”
COVID Travel Insurance – Wizz Air
Passengers on Wizz Air flights are being offered COVID-19 insurance coverage as part of the company’s overall travel insurance package, available through partnering provider Chubb.
For example, explained Wizz Air, “if you contract COVID-19 on your trip abroad and you incur extra costs to extend your stay, or medical expenses to treat you whilst sick, Wizz Air travel insurance will cover this (maximum limit applies). Or maybe you’ve had to cancel your trip because you contracted COVID-19 before you travel? Wizz Air travel insurance is there to protect you.”
Wizz Air’s travel insurance also covers lost, stolen or damaged baggage as well as missed departure. In addition to travel insurance, the company offers standalone cancellation cover in certain countries.
“At Wizz, we are committed to optimising the travel experience,” said senior corporate communications manager Andras Rado, “whether it is the booking process, onboard service or offering added extras which make travel more convenient and seamless. With our updated travel insurance package, passengers can rest assured that they are prepared and covered in case of COVID-19 disruptions to their trip.”
Mobile Travel Health Passports – British Airways
British Airways has become the first airline in the UK to trial VeriFLY, a mobile travel health passport. The company is working with joint business and Oneworld partner American Airlines to trial the new travel health app, which certifies test certificates and required travel documentation on a personal mobile device before passengers leave home, and offers a fast-track service at the airport.
Initially, British Airways announced that VeriFLY would be trialled among customers eligible to travel between London and the US from 4 February. Subsequently, the company said that, in response to tightening border controls by the UK government, it intended to increase the trial across all international flights operating into the UK.
“The expansion, which will come into effect from 15 February, is designed to help those eligible to travel to navigate the changing entry requirements and facilitate a seamless journey by ensuring customers are ready to fly and have the appropriate documentation in place, before departing for the airport.”
The results will be shared with Oxford University, academic partners and governments on both sides of the Atlantic. If successful, it is expected that British Airways – and other companies – will be keen to incorporate similar digital options for travellers throughout Europe, including Faro.
“Although flying is currently restricted,” said British Airways CEO Sean Doyle, “it is essential we do as much as we can now to help those who are eligible to fly and prepare to help our customers navigate the complexities around changing global entry requirements when the world re-opens. We remain focused and committed to finding user-friendly, evidence-based solutions to make journeys as seamless as they can be.”
This week, the International Air Transport Association’s director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, reaffirmed that the association was working closely with IAG (British Airways’ parent company) on an IATA Travel Pass app which is being developed for launch in the coming weeks.