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Should I travel to Egypt?
Travel to parts of Egypt from the UK has been difficult for many months now due to the suspension of direct flights from the UK to the popular Sharm el Sheikh area.
The suspension was ordered by the UK government following the crash of a Russian Metro aircraft on October 31, 2015.
The plane came down in Egypt’s Sinai region and the crash claimed the lives of all 224 passengers.
Since then, UK carriers have suspended flights to and from Sharm el Sheikh airport until further notice in accordance with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s (FCO) advice.
However, many airlines and tour operators have allowed bookings to continue for forward departure dates and there has been a rolling review of when flights may resume for many months now.
The latest information is that flights are unlikely to start again until 2017.
Monarch announced this week that they would not resume flights until February 10, 2017, after previously believing they may be up and running by the end of October 2016.
Read more here: http://blog.monarch.co.uk/sharm-el-sheikh-travel-update/
Thomas Cook are currently planning to start flights on February 6, 2017, subject to the UK government lifting the ban on direct flights.
Read more here: https://www.thomascook.com/travel-updates/#intcmp=TopNav_TravelUpdates
Thomson do have dates for some departures showing from the end of October 2016; however this may be reviewed now that others have delayed their start-up plans into 2017.
Read more here: http://www.thomson.co.uk/destinations/travel-information
British Airways and easyJet are yet to announce when they will resume flying.
I have a holiday booked to Egypt – can I change or cancel my booking?
If you have a holiday booked to the area and are concerned, we suggest you contact your tour operator or airline to see what your options are should you wish to cancel or choose another destination. You can still travel independently to Sharm el Sheikh via Cairo and then overland, or into Hurghada and onwards by ferry.
The FCO have not banned Brits from going to Sharm el Sheikh, only from being able to fly in and out of Sharm el Sheikh airport.
There are other popular tourist resorts which remain open with business as normal, including the Red Sea resort area of Hurghada, with direct flights from the UK. Other destinations, including Luxor, Qina, Aswan, Abu Simbel and the Valley of the Kings, are open to tourism.
Airlines and travel companies have different policies at the moment, so check the website of the company you are travelling with or contact them direct – whichever company 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 website as, if you cancel now, you may be liable to the usual cancellation fees.
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 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.
“Since the plane crash of late 2015, holidaymakers choosing to travel to Egypt have been able to do so without any problem and while the country is quiet from a visitor point of view, the locals remain welcoming and there are some excellent deals to be found, especially in the Hurghada area of the Red Sea.
“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.