TRUSTED ADVICE TELEGRAPH TRAVEL COLLECTIVE
financially protected also added a critical advantage. And there are legal protections, too. The tour operator or package provider has a duty of care to its customers, so if there is a strike or something goes wrong, it has to sort out the problem and look after you in the meantime.
Why would you book independently when there are all these added protections? The concept of package holidays has been redeemed, and Abta’s figures suggest that more and more people are realising this.
The other four “trends” struck me as a mixed bag:
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An increasing awareness of the concept of responsible tourism. In Abta’s survey, 45 per cent of people said sustainability is a key part of their decision-making when booking a holiday. This is up six per cent compared with last year, and the trend is making travel companies more aware of problems such as the effect of tourism on developing nations, and the environmental impact of single-use plastics.
An increasing demand for “wellness” holidays. Abta has identified a 20 per cent increase since 2015. This confirms a trend. Is there a luxury hotel in the world that hasn’t added or updated a spa and ordered a batch of yoga mats in the past decade?
Technology is delivering more “seamless holiday experiences”. This was presented as a bonus for consumers – and technology can make our travelling lives easier. It has also made things much easier for staff in the travel industry because we, the customers, have to do work that used
In the event of an emergency, a US visa waiver can be extended, but you must act quickly
Since we retired a few years ago, my husband and I have spent three months in Florida each autumn. We flew out on Oct 1 this year and, at the beginning of November, my husband suffered a detached retina. He had to undergo emergency surgery at a hospital here and has been advised that he will be unable to fly for at least eight weeks.
We were due to return to the UK on Dec 26, but now it looks like we shall have to stay beyond the expiration date of both our travel insurance and our ESTA visa waiver permits.
Please can you advise us on the best way forward?
I spoke to InsureandGo, which says that, under its terms and conditions, if a customer has to extend a trip because they are recovering from a medical condition, their cover will automatically extend until they are able to return home.
It is not clear whether all insurers are this generous. The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), which acts as an insurance watchdog, says that, under its remit to apply “fair and reasonable” rulings, it would expect insurers to arrange an extension. The insurer would be able to fix the price and terms, but if the customer felt the cost of the extension was unreasonable, they could take their case to the FOS. I also contacted the US embassy in London to find out whether you could obtain an extension to your ESTA permits. US federal law says that, if an emergency prevents someone travelling on a visa waiver permit from departing the US within the authorised 90 days, they can apply for a 30-day extension. Such requests must be made in person at the local Field Office of the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
You should apply for an appointment through the USCIS website (uscis.gov) as soon as possible, taking proof of your husband’s medical condition, including a letter from a doctor confirming that he will not be fit to travel until after the ESTA expires.
You can also discuss with the USCIS official whether it would be better to leave the US for a few days and obtain a new 90-day entry permit. This is because there’s a chance that overstaying – even with permission – might mean that you cannot use the visa waiver scheme in the future and will have to apply for a full 10-year tourist visa.
Operators realise that they need to offer flexibility and have become more like travel agents
giving your full name and, if your query is about a dispute with a travel company, your address, telephone number and any booking reference. We regret that we cannot personally answer all the queries we receive, but your email will be acknowledged.
TIME WARPVisit medieval Regensburg on a river cruise along the Danube