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Covid-19 Travel update – October 2020

I trust this edition of Travel Case find you well and includes the following –

–      Revised opening hours
–      Boots in-store Covid-19 testing
–      Emirates service levels and a new Biometric path at Dubai Airport
–      Testing at Heathrow
–      Eurostar to Amsterdam
–      TUI flight and destination update
–      New York live subway map
–      Norwegian to return to Gatwick
–      Cathay Pacific update
–      Maldives & Canaries

And finally –

–      Alternative travel methods for a certain Scottish MP

Important new Office opening hours:

Please note as from Monday 2nd November 2020 our office hours will be revised to –
Monday to Friday 10:00 – 16:45
For any emergencies or urgent travel requests outside these times then please contact our Out of Hours department on  01483 695149.

Boots UK introduce in-store COVID -19 testing

In-store Covid-19 testing service is being introduced by Boots UK at a cost of £120. The service, with results provided in 12 minutes, is being made available as a private pre-flight test for customers who require a test before travelling abroad. The tests will initially be made available in ten stores in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow for people travelling to the UAE. It is also being touted an accessible solution for those seeking peace of mind before seeing friends and family, Boots said. The service is being specifically offered for those without Covid-19 symptoms as part of efforts to support the NHS and local communities during the pandemic. A separate PCR test will see swabs sent to a private laboratory to be tested, with results emailed to customers “usually” within 48 hours of their in-store appointment. Boots plans to extend the service to more than 50 stores across the UK over the next few weeks. “Depending on demand and feedback, the launch may extend to 200 stores over the coming months,” Boots said. The technology has been developed by UK-based life sciences company LumiraDx, which has also struck a deal to provide supplies to the NHS in Scotland.

Emirates – a busy time:

Emirates upgrades

Emirates is rolling out a redesigned onboard experience and introducing additional health and safety measures.

First Class customers can once again have a shower at 40,000ft.- which is nice.

From 1st November, Emirates’ onboard dining experience will return to its signature service while observing strict hygiene protocols. Customers in all classes will enjoy multi-course meals and choose from a complementary selection of beverages including wine and beer, as well as juices and soft drinks. Cocktails will also be served in premium classes.

In Economy Class, customers can choose from two wines; in Business Class, customers can choose from six wines including port and champagne, while in First Class, customers will have a selection of 11 wines including a dessert wine, port and Dom Perignon champagne.

Currently from Heathrow Emirates is operating four daily flights to Dubai, (all times local) the 09:05 and 18:30 departures both Boeing 777s whilst the 14:20 and 20:40 both Airbus A380.

Biometric path at Dubai airport

Emirates has launched an integrated biometric path at Dubai International airport (DXB). The contactless airport experience is now open to Emirates passengers travelling from and through Dubai.

This latest piece of medical technology gives passengers a seamless travel journey from specific check-in to boarding gates, improving customer flow through the airport with less document checks and less queuing.

Utilising the latest biometrics – a mix of facial and iris recognition, Emirates passengers can now check-in for their flight, complete immigration formalities, enter the Emirates Lounge, and board their flights, simply by strolling through the airport.

The various touchpoints in their terminal path allow for a hygienic contactless travel journey, reducing human interaction and putting emphasis on health and safety.

The biometric touchpoints are currently installed at select First, Business and Economy Class check-in desks in Terminal 3 at DXB; immigration gates including a “smart tunnel”; Emirates’ premium lounge entrance at concourse B as well as select boarding gates. Areas, where biometric equipment is installed, are clearly marked and additional units will be installed at each touchpoint in the future.

An early Xmas present idea:

In London, the Emirates Experience is open to all and is proving fun for those who must fly, but can’t.  

Situated on the Greenwich Peninsular, close by the O2 arena, one can literally fly in via the Emirates Cable Car, or use another mode of transport including the Jubilee Underground line.

The facility offers two Airbus 380s and two Boeing 777s fixed simulators, utilising full landscape visuals, allowing participants to practice their take-off and landing skills.  There is a choice of ten airports for take-offs and landings.

You can choose the time of day (night time views of Dubai anyone?) and the weather conditions can change during your flight.  Sunny days are recommended rather than fog over London.  A fully-trained simulator experience instructor guides would-be pilots through the 60min Emirates experience.

Current price is £95 and there is room for four in the cockpit.

Testing at Heathrow:

Last Tuesday (20th October) saw the first passengers finally through the experimental Covid-19 tests at Heathrow Terminals 2 and 5 en route to Hong Kong.

The programme, long promoted by the airport with the assistance of Collison and Servisair, offers passengers travelling to Hong Kong the option to fulfil Covid-19 pre-departure testing requirements, therefore, meeting obligations at the destination gateway.  British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic all provide daily flights to Hong Kong.  

The private test costs £80 and aims to provide departing passengers with their results in around 60min. Passengers are asked to ensure they book a test ahead of time and provide timing guidelines with regard to check-in by their airline.  The testing facilities will initially be open for four weeks, monitoring passenger and airline demand.

The new facilities process LAMP tests including Antigen as global governments, but not the UK, continue to accept a wider variety of testing methods as an alternative to travel restrictions and quarantines.

These tests differ from RT-PCR, which a growing number of countries and territories around the world, including Cyprus, Greece, Bahamas and Bermuda, now require to be shown at check-in. Unlike RT-PCR tests, LAMP and Antigen tests can be processed quickly and without being sent to a laboratory.

Eurostar to Amsterdam made easier:

In spite of the problems associated with the pandemic at both ends, Eurostar is to introduce a direct St Pancras – Amsterdam Centraal high-speed train service today (Monday 26th October). Covid-19 rules will be displayed and passengers are expected to adhere to.

Outbound from London passengers will go through border controls at St Pancras and for the return, the formalities will take place at Amsterdam Centraal and Rotterdam Centraal stations.  Total journey time each way is 3hr 55min twice daily, but no weekend services until 12th December.  Prices start from £40 each way in Standard class, £79 each way in Standard Premier with a light meal and wine included, and £260 one-way in Business Premier with a hot meal, wine and champagne.  The train also stops at Brussels.

It’s a fast and convenient service, and without the hassle of having previously to disembark in Brussels for border and security checks.

More holiday destinations from TUI :

Holidaymakers, and people with time on their hands, will be pleased to learn that TUI is introducing a Caribbean winter programme from this week.   The reduced European schedule is continued.  The airline is ranked number four (EasyJet, BA, Jet2) in British carriers for passenger numbers carried. TUI operates a fleet of 14 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in a two-class layout.  For St Lucia there is a weekly programme from Gatwick on a Tuesday and Manchester on a Thursday, flight time is about 8hr 45min. For the Cuban resort of Varadero, which borders the Straight of Florida (Havana is a day tour from the beaches) again the flights are weekly and take about 9hr. In Europe flights can be currently booked to Crete, Cyprus, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Kos, Lanzarote, Paphos, Rhodes and Tenerife, but do check with us for updates.

New York’s new live subway map:

As and when travel to New York becomes a little easier than travelling around the city by subway has become less stressful with the introduction of an excellent new map showing live train services.  Click on a station and you can see the next few departures in real-time. The map is geographical: if you go into a high level of magnification, you can not only see street names but also arrows indicating where the station exits are on the street grid. At stations served by many lines, you cannot filter out the tracks you don’t want.  If you are heading for 34th Street Penn Station and want an A Train to Howard Beach for JFK Airport, you can’t just get a list of the next few A trains – you get trains on all three lines in both directions.

Norwegian’s tentative Gatwick return:

The only British (?) airline still not flying, Norwegian Air UK has indicated a March 2021 return of long-haul Gatwick services with its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet.

The airline suspended all its Gatwick flights in March and has given no indication of when its short-haul European operation might return.

The airline has now filed for the following destinations with an initial programme.  All are subject to change.

Boston from 28th March 2021 4 times per week, Denver from 29th March 2021 3 times per week, Los Angeles from 28th March 2021 5 times per week, Miami from 29th March 2021 3 times per week, New York JFK  from 28th March 2021, daily Orlando from 28th March 2021 4 times per week and San Francisco from 28th March 2021 4 times per week.

However Norwegian are one of the few airlines who have not made any refunds to travellers since March, just so you know……

Cathay Dragon shuts down:

The low-cost subsidiary of Cathay Pacific Airlines (CX), Cathay Dragon, has closed down with immediate effect. Previously known as Dragonair, CX says it is hoped that the “majority” of the brand’s routes will be retained by Cathay Pacific or low-cost carrier HK Express. Please contact us for further information.

Travel corridors:

New destinations recently announce include – The Maldives, The Canaries and the Greek Island of Mykonos.

AND FINALLY: Why not fly?

Recent news coverage of a Scottish Nationalist MP’s (still employed) decision to travel by rail whilst being Covid-19 positive, allows us to remind travellers of the various costs and options for travelling between London and Glasgow

There are currently 12 flights between the five London Airports and Glasgow International with an average flying time of 90 minutes at most. EasyJet uses Gatwick, Luton and Stansted airports with the return cost starting at well under £100 including a £26 donation to Government called APD.  Every fare paid goes to keep the airlines and airports alive. 

The subsidised rail journey will take around 5hrs and cost £250 minimum (MPs travel First Class). The equivalent British Airways airfare is much the same and you will collect Avios points.  

As ever, stay safe and please get in touch with any questions you may have.