Find out more about Cathy Toogood
Should I travel to Egypt?
As a result of a plane crash on October 31, 2015 in Egypt’s Sinai region that claimed the lives of all 224 passengers, the British government has suspended flights to and from Sharm El Sheikh International Airport.
The situation left a number of British nationals stranded in Egypt, and, due to the nature of the incident, it may also be causing concern for those scheduled to fly to the popular resort in the coming weeks and months.
UK carriers have temporarily suspended flights to and from Sharm El Sheikh Airport until further notice in accordance with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) advice.
I have a holiday booked to Egypt in the near future – can I change or cancel my booking?
The current situation in Egypt is fast moving. If you have a holiday coming up and are concerned, we suggest you contact your tour operator or airline to see what your options are should you want to cancel or choose another destination.
Thomas Cook, for example, has cancelled all flights and holidays to Sharm El Sheikh up until and including May 25, 2016 and is allowing customers travelling until then to cancel or rebook another holiday free of charge, with a £30pp discount on the future holiday. Booking conditions remain as normal for travel after this date, but it could change according to FCO advice. See further information here.
Thomson, on the other hand, has cancelled all flights to Sharm El Sheikh up to and including March 23, 2016 and is allowing customers travelling up to then to amend their holiday or claim a full refund. If the new holiday departs on or before October 31, 2016, there is a £30pp discount. Thomson is also offering a £50pp discount to customers who chose to amend their holiday to set options as long as they depart before the end of April 2016 See further information here.
British Airways has cancelled all flights up to and including June 30, 2016. Customers on these flights can claim a full refund, rebook to a later date or change their destination. British Airways does not run any scheduled flights to or from Sharm el Sheikh in July, August or the first half of September. See further information here.
Whoever you are travelling with, we advise you to keep a close eye on both the FCO website and your provider’s site.
If you are travelling further in the future, keep an eye on events in the news and on the FCO site as, if you cancel now, you may be liable to the usual cancellation fees.
I’m currently in Egypt – what should I do?
It’s important to understand that the FCO has not changed any of its advice regarding staying in Sharm El Sheikh itself. As it stands, only the transport via flights in and out of Sharm El Sheikh Airport has been affected.
Other popular tourist resorts, including the Red Sea resort Hurghada, and other destinations including Luxor, Qina, Aswan, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings, remain open to tourism and it’s business as usual.
Holidaymakers who were in Sharm El Sheikh when flights were suspended on November 4 should now be back in the UK following a number of flights where special security measures were put in place.
During the delays after the suspension of flights, those on package holidays covered by the ATOL scheme should have had any extended accommodation arrangements organised by their tour operator while those travelling independently should have been offered a welfare package from EU airlines including accommodation and meals, and should refer to their travel insurance policy to find out if any additional costs will be covered as a result of the delay.
I have a holiday booking in 2016, but don’t want to go now – what can I do?
If the FCO advice on the safety of the Sharm El Sheikh resort continues to remain the same it is unlikely that you will be able to cancel your holiday and receive a refund. However, as mentioned above, different companies have different policies so check with yours.
Egypt’s popular tourist resorts are currently deemed safe to travel to by the FCO and so carriers and tour operators will continue to take bookings as normal and apply normal booking conditions to those holidays and flights in case of cancellation. The FCO has not changed its advice around travel following the recent knife attack in a Hurghada hotel on January 8, 2016.
We advise you contact your provider directly if you are concerned about a holiday you have booked for 2016 and beyond.
I have made independent arrangements to travel to the country – do I have any rights?
If you cancel your trip you may lose money if the travel company you have booked with is not offering free cancellations on its arrangements. Independent travellers with future bookings should contact their airline and hotel companies to discuss options open to them.
You should also consult your travel insurance company to ensure that your policy is still valid and you are aware of the cover you have extended to you for travel disruption, for example.
General safety advice for Egypt
Currently, certain parts of Egypt are deemed as unsafe for British nationals and the FCO advises against all travel to the Governorate of North Sinai and all but essential travel to South Sinai (with the exception of Sharm el Maya, Hadaba, Naama Bay, Sharks Bay and Nabq), and the areas west of the Nile Valley and the Nile Delta regions. However, this is not new advice.
What if I travel to parts of Egypt against the advice?
If you decide to visit areas the FCO advises against, your insurance cover will be invalid from all companies.
Bob Atkinson, travel expert at TravelSupermarket comments:
“The most important thing around holidays to Egypt is to keep abreast of the situation using reliable news services and, of course, the FCO travel advice. This should be viewed along with the advice of your operator or airline and that advice should be followed at all times.
“By booking an ATOL-backed package rather than a DIY holiday you have extra protection for your trip so that if this kind of situation arises you will be looked after by your holiday provider rather than having to fend for yourself. You should also consult your travel insurance policy to ensure you know what you are covered for and if in any doubt contact them before committing to any additional expenses.”
Please note: All facts were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change.