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The HfP chat thread – Sunday 5th December

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We are running this daily chat thread on Head for Points during the coronavirus outbreak.

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Comments (299)

  • Jordan D says:

    A year ago, was heading to Tenerife when breaks seemed easier than now. Morning all.

    • Harry T says:

      It was honestly easier to travel last year than it is now. The UK has only introduced more testing and red tape over time. There was less hassle when we hadn’t double vaccinated 80% of over 12s, which just illustrates how absurd the government’s approach is.

      • Yuff says:

        +1

        So,] they wasn’t us to get triple vaccinated but expect us to isolate for 10 days as a omicron contact……….hmmmmm 🤔

    • Andrew says:

      Agree, and what’s next Saturday’s announcement of extra red tape going to be? Glad I went to Miami the first week that US travel opened – seemed a much simpler time, with just an at-home LFT on return, after enjoying the Revivals Lounge at LHR. Ah those were the days (2 weeks ago).

      • John says:

        10 days self isolation regardless of test, vaccine passport everywhere, restaurants to half capacity, culminating in stay at home from Christmas Eve

    • Sandgrounder says:

      You needed a mask in the street over there then. You don’t now. You also needed a test on the way to Spain. You don’t now.
      How was it easier?

      • John says:

        If you need a mask you just pack one. A lot easier than needing to plan around where and when to get tested

        For a UK to Spain short trip, a lot easier to get a test at home (including cancelling trip if positive) than finding one while on holiday (including extending stay, missing work, etc if positive)

        • Sandgrounder says:

          Just pack a lateral flow kit, upload the result, get a certificate. It’s not hard.
          An outbound PCR last year cost a lot more than an LF kit and an inbound PCR now. They were also harder to find

          • Sandgrounder says:

            And of course Tenerife were put on the amber list last December at 2 days notice, meaning a lot of people had to scramble to change their flights, try to get a test to release or risk being locked down for Christmas.
            I’ll take this year. It’s not ideal, but things were always going to get tougher in the winter.

      • Track says:

        Yeah but all of this can and likely to change on one-day’s notice. From inbound testing requirements for Spain to a complete block of non-EU residents.

    • Geoff 1977 says:

      Staycations are still pretty easy!

      No tests etc

      You get to see more of this great country too 🇬🇧

  • The Canuck says:

    Not sure I understand the level of outrage at the newly announced pre-departure tests…. Almost every country in the world requires them and it seems like a sensible level of risk mitigation to implement…

    Surely people see that no measure is perfect, but when combined they provide some level of protection that would otherwise be non-existent, which is better than nothing. You’ll never get a perfect solution but perfection can’t be the enemy of good in a pandemic (and it’s not like the requirements are that onerous anyway…)

    • Anna says:

      But what evidence is there that it had any impact on infection rates over the summer when the same was required? I remember reading that there was a minuscule number of people testing positive on return from abroad.

      • The Canuck says:

        Agreed completely that border measures don’t do anything unless there are some internal measures to keep infections manageable (not zero because only a lunatic would still think zero-covid is attainable). I just think some level of border measures always made sense and the ones implemented today seem pretty fair and logical to me.

        I don’t really have all the answers to be honest. I just contrast this with Canada where I spend most of my time. Some level of border measures were always kept in place (arguably more stringent than any UK border measures ever with the PCR requirement) and the general attitude among the population seems to be taking covid more seriously with masks still widespread and indoor capacity limits. But the net effect is that case rates are significantly lower than in the UK while people are still going about living semi-normal lives (bars are busy every weekend, restaurants are filling up their heated patios etc.).

        Just seems to me that the outrage I see on here is a bit blown out of proportion.

      • Mike says:

        Obviously it depends on the flight origin, but the Daily Mail was running headlines earlier in the year on how ridiculous the test was when only 3 in 100 were testing positive. They felt like you, that the return tests weren’t worth it. 3% is about double the rate in the UK, so are the tests worth it? Possibly, and certainly for variant surveillance.

        • John says:

          We are talking about pre flighh tests which can be LFTs and even if PCR is used not all countries will sequence them nor inform the UK of the results

        • kitten says:

          3 in 100 is quite a lot.

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        Are you not answering your own question? Isn’t pre departure tests forcing passengers with positive results to cancel their trip?

    • Mouse says:

      Plays well with lower middle class swing voters to whom the government wants to be seen to be doing something but that primarily affects someone else

      • The Canuck says:

        Not sure this is true to be honest. This is going to affect those who are scraping together pennies to go to Magaluf a lot more than wealthy people jetting off to Barbados for a weekend.

        If money isn’t an object, these requirements don’t really add much trouble

        • Mouse says:

          It’s December. The winter holiday crowd are solidly Tory already.

        • QFFlyer says:

          No they’re damn inconvenient, but nothing more than other countries have imposed…I flew from Australia to the UK a couple of weeks ago and back and needed four COVID tests, three of those (all but the day-2 RAT) were required by Australia and those three were RT-PCR.

          I’ve left for Fiji now, had to take a RT-PCR to leave, a RAT on arrival, RT-PCR to return and two more RT-PCR after arriving home. I’ll do it to be able to travel, it’s more the time wasted I cba with.

    • BJ says:

      The points are:

      1. Vaccination works.
      2. Treatment and care continue to evolve and improve.
      3. Herd immunity works.

      Against that background measures such as wearing masks, and encourage social distancing where practical helps to slow spread and maintain infection at levels health services can cope with. Stop, go, and erratic fluctuations in border policy and associated testing and paperwork in all likelihood are doing more harm than good in countries where most of the population have been vaccinated. It hinders development and benefits of herd immunity, spooks the markets, damaging the travel and leisure sectors in particular, and causes no end of socjal and financial hardship, hassle and stress for business and leisure traveller alike. In short, yes, measures to combat covid continue to be necessary but they should be measured, less restrictive, less erratic and not politically motivated.

      • Polly says:

        Exactly as the WHO recommended. No knee jerk reactions.
        Not to close borders, tests are mainly manageable BJ, l think. Def masks and social distancing to be enhanced, or enforced better. Public transport and schools for eg.

        • AJA says:

          I travelled on the Tube, Overground and train yesterday, for the first time in 6 months, and noticed mask wearing was about 80% observed between 2 and 4pm but the return journey after 10pm it dropped to below 50%. And it was mainly those below 35 who weren’t complying despite it being compulsory to do so. You can forget social distancing on buses and the tube the later it gets – every single tube seat was occupied after 10pm. Social distancing is still possible on the Overground and the train. I’m not going to make people wear a mask, and I don’t see how you can can force people to wear one, short of having some tube staff patrolling the tube entrance and forcing bus drivers to deny admission to the maskless. There are announcements constantly staying mask wearing is compulsory but it is just ignored by those who won’t wear one.

          • Rich says:

            I had the same observation yesterday on a busy train to Nottingham – football / rugby fans and younger people in general not wearing masks in high proportions and it was worse on the evening return journey. If the science is that compelling then sort that situation out before putting in expensive testing at the border.

      • Harry T says:

        Omicron is already in the UK and spreading in the community. Testing people when they are abroad just means you trap citizens in other countries for no significant public health benefit. You either believe that vaccines and here immunity work to protect the population, or you don’t. Besides, all the genuine data has shown that you are more likely to catch covid travelling around the UK than you are abroad – and no one tests you if you visit Cornwall.

        • Harry T says:

          Herd*

        • Polly says:

          So probably test before departure from the U.K. good, to prevent positive pax travelling. Agree with your point asking for pre return to U.K. tests. This turn of events is purely political, better than bringing in isolation or quarantine for all..

          • Harry T says:

            I agree, Polly! Hope you’ve recovered from your Singapore ordeal.

          • Yuff says:

            Majority of icu beds taken up by un-vaccinated people.
            Those complying with the jab requests should have the benefit of their freedom, at home and to travel…….

        • AJA says:

          Isn’t the likelihood of catching Covid in the UK much higher than travelling abroad simply down to numbers? I.e there are far fewer international traveller than the UK population? You can still catch covid abroad. The data from the two KLM flights showed that 10% of the passengers had the virus. Multiply that 10% by the number of international.arrivees vs the 68 million UK population, which is the higher number?

          • AJA says:

            That was in response to Harry’s comment above that you are more likely to catch covid in the UK than abroad

    • GaryC says:

      The level of outrage is due to pure personal self interest. It’s not concern for the broader travel industry, and it’s primarily not financial, however it might be dressed up as such. For many, their perceived right to be able to travel home without the risk of being inconvenienced (even if Covid positive) is all that matters.

      • John says:

        That is all that matters. If I’m travelling I basically accept the risk that other people might be infected. They might have fake tests, they might not need any tests, they could have come from anywhere.

        Self isolating after a trip until known negative makes sense (though travelling freely to get home doesn’t really, but not sure how to solve that)

    • Can says:

      Because this country has a very high vaccination rate that started really early. People were simply expecting that this would ease travel. Because even if you bring the virus from abroad, it’s be crushed in the society due to the high vaccination rate.
      Now the government is acting as if we are not vaccinated.
      Odd.

      • GaryC says:

        “Now the government is acting as if we are not vaccinated.
        Odd.”

        It isn’t that hard to read the tea leaves on this one. There’s plenty of evidence now suggesting that omicron has significant vaccine breakthrough and reinfection risk, but the data to be overwhelmingly statistically significant isn’t here quite yet.

        But the quick move on pre-departure tests shows clearly where this is going. Working from home guidance will likely be coming g before long.

        • Can says:

          Every viral infection progresses with variants. What this makes clear is that the government lack a policy and a goal to get out of this pandemic. Playing this game after each variant simply means that there is no end to this. But people are tired. This will reduce compliance and increase antivax crooks.

          • GaryC says:

            I disagree, I think the policy is clear – permit as many freedoms of the population as is possible, but without the NHS getting overloaded, and with an “acceptable” death toll of the low hundreds max. The vaccines and their effectiveness against the alpha, beta, delta variants meant that things were reasonably normal.

            But omicron potentially changes the game and sets us back. Yes, you can predict there will be variants, but you can’t predict in advance how they will look and manufacture every possible permutation of vaccine possible in advance. We’re lucky that we have technology that can mean shots in arms 3 months after a new variant is detected.

            Without a policy of forced (and global) vaccination, you may be right, that there is no end to this cycle, at least in the foreseeable future.

          • Can says:

            Don’t get me wrong, “when I raise to the power”, I’ll mandate it.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            @GaryC there’s no evidence at all there’s break through in the vaccines ability to prevent severe illness!

          • Size-8-Portex says:

            “…the government lack a policy and a goal to get out of this pandemic.”

            These kind of “what is the end-game?” and “why do the goalposts keep changing?” bleats are the most superficial and infuriating.

            No-one has, and possibly can have, a policy to simply ‘get out of this pandemic’ because it is an unpredictable and ever-evolving global event. You cannot talk or legislate a transmissible disease into sudden insignificance.

            A clear roadmap was laid out by the government earlier in the year, based on the data available at the time, and was followed (largely to time) leading to an appropriate and welcomed de-escalation of measured over the summer.

            However, things have now changed, and new mitigating measures have been reintroduced based upon emerging evidence of vaccine evasion. The testing requirements are not dissimilar to that required up until about 8 weeks ago, and seem proportionate to the new threat.

            Anyone who feels they were cheated and only got vaccinated because they felt they were promised test- and restriction-free worldwide jet-setting need to seriously re-evaluate their healthcare decision-making as well as their basic comprehension of the whole situation.

            Furthermore, anyone who rants on about “they’ll just keep on finding new variants” – the answer is yes, we definitely will do, so get used to it rather than coming forwards with a completely empty statement. Hopefully at some point the variants will start to cause less severe disease (regardless of transmissibility) and we will be able to just ignore and live with them, but for the meantime they still cause a severe disease sufficient to have an impact all around the world.

            So, coming back to the original point, what do YOU suggest as a policy to get out of this pandemic. Please enlighten us as to what can we implement today that guarantees a swift and safe end to it all?

        • GaryC says:

          @TGLoyalty yes I agree, right now we simply don’t know either way. Let’s hope that booster shots + T-cells mean that existing vaccines continue to provide protection from getting seriously sick, even if there is breakthrough to infection (which looks very likely). But given the multi-week lead/lag on exposure –> infection –> sick –> hospitalisation, surely you can understand why some level of caution is prudent? Finding the statistical evidence at the point where you then know that in T+4 weeks there’ll be more people sick than the NHS can deal with is hardly ideal.

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m as frustrated by this as anyone, travel is a big hobby of mine and I’m GGL through 75% leisure travel. I should be enjoying a New England IPA in Boston this afternoon, but I’m still in the UK, and am not optimistic about upcoming trips. But right now it’s hard to see that the government has much choice.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            “But given the multi-week lead/lag on exposure –> infection –> sick –> hospitalisation”

            That’s not strictly true it didn’t take 70+ Year olds weeks to get seriously sick. It happened within days.

            The lag on infections rising and hospitalisations was in part to do with the flow of infections from lots of younger people to the 70+.

          • GaryC says:

            Median time from onset of symptoms to death in a 70-80 year old is 8 days. Typically 5-6 days from point of infection to presentation of symptoms. How many weeks of hospitalisation and death data would you suggest is then collected before acting after the very first patients get sick? And once you’ve decided to act, there’s always a lag on implementation date. With an R rate of 2 (as some studies already suggest), that’s one hell of a wave you’ve built up for the following weeks.

    • Track says:

      Surely people will see the cost of these measures (tests on departure, tests on arrival, costs of extra accommodation and quarantine if positive result or rules change in between).

      It is EITHER OR. Countries that require pre-departure tests, don’t impose self-isolation on arrival. (Unless you are going to Singapore, Australia, etc where you have to be prepared for quarantine, on spot testing, even after your proper documents are scrutinised on entry).

      That is, even if you play (and pay) 100% by the rules, nothing is guaranteed, and the effectiveness of these measures and testing is questionable. It’s like looking for keys under street light because it is easier to check travellers, not where you actually lost the keys (test community transmission, shoppers, Uber drivers, people using tube regularly).

  • Mark says:

    How lenient is Hilton when it comes to refunding hotel stays for a non-refundable stay if I can’t fly in due to Covid restrictions etc?

    • John says:

      Up to the individual hotel

    • Dave says:

      Although if the hotel is in the US check Rob’s artile on the quirk where, if you book another night somewhere, you can get a refund.

    • Blenz101 says:

      Travel insurance job.

    • Louise K says:

      Email / call hotel and ask.

    • Spurs drive me mad says:

      At start of pandemic Conrad in Tokyo refunded my non refundable sale rate with our question. I emailed them direct and asked.

  • Polly says:

    We have just luckily changed our flight to leave Singapore tomorrow Monday night. According to gov rules, these are departure tests if you depart after 04.00 Tuesday morning. We are now departing Monday U.K. time 13.50 . So appear not to need the pre departure tests. So we arrive after 04.00, but these tests are pre departure tests. Hope we have avoided the bullet and are allowed to board. No warning yet from BA on our booking. Our day 0-2 PCR re booked on arrival at the hotel.
    That’s how we have interpreted it anyway, after scrutinising the gov.U.K. Update. Fingers crossed.
    We just couldn’t risk another alternative holiday for either one of us if we had a false positive.

    • Yuff says:

      Totally sympathise with that view and if there is an alternative to a pre-departure test I would always take that option.
      There are false positives and incorrect results, much better to be at home of that happens than a foreign county thousands of miles away……
      In my opinion……

    • Keely says:

      I’m interpreting it this way too Polly but am waiting on Tui who we’re flying with to confirm their official interpretation tomorrow. The local rep had a different opinion to us….but seems quite clear to me .

      • Polly says:

        Keely, Here’s hoping for any of us with travel plans.

        Yuff, as you know l was already caught out once here, beginning of this trip, by my false positive, just couldn’t let that happen to my OH. 10 days is far worse than the 4 days l spent, even if it has a nice balcony. Limits to our tolerance at this stage.

        • Michael C says:

          Don’t think the Heathrow Travelodge has balconies, Polly! ;o)))
          Safe home, sure it’ll all be fine – you’ve earned it!

        • Polly says:

          Ok. Wording now changed on gov.uk. Days departure time is the critical word, not arrivals.. finally clarified. Painful day confusing everyone. BA must have complained to them!
          So now we can travel tomorrow…

          • Rob says:

            Hi Polly, I can’t see any update to the wording on the gov.uk website. If possible, it would be very helpful for me if you could expand on the change of wording that has been made. If I arrive back in the UK at 7am on 7th Dec, but my return flight departure time was 6th Dec 23:00, am I now definitely not required to do a PCR or LFT test before I travel? Thanks

      • BJ says:

        That something this simple is open to interpretation at all is just another indication of the incompetence of this government. How difficult is it for them to specify local time or GMT? Good luck with your flight.

    • BJ says:

      I cannot see a problem in this case Plly, it is fine regardless of whether it is interpreted as departure at 04:00 local time or GMT. Have a safe and pleasant journey.

      • John says:

        It could be interpreted as anyone arriving in the UK from 4am must have a test – as that’s how the 4am rule worked for the red and amber list changes.

        • BuildBackBetter says:

          +1

        • JDB says:

          Yes, it looks like 4am Tuesday arrivals need the pre departure test. The Scottish govt site makes it clearer “Upcoming changes to travel rules: if you’re due to arrive in Scotland from 4am on Tuesday 7 December, you’ll need to be able to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR or lateral flow test. You’ll need to have taken this test in the 48 hours before you’re due to arrive in Scotland.”

          • Polly says:

            Posted this on other article.
            Just spoke to You 1st, who looked at the page with me, and agree it’s about pre departure testing, not arriving time.
            Quote “ Until 4am Dec 7th, you do not have to take a covid-19 test before you travel to England if you qualify as fully vaccinated and you have not been in a red list country”
            BA check in staff are going by that tomorrow Monday right up until 4am the 7th. Team leader said it’s recorded the call, and asked me to bring a screenshot of it to the airport tomorrow.
            Nerves of steel required in these circs….feel reassured, but, until we are in that cabin, with bubbles, will hold our breath!

      • Polly says:

        BJ,
        Am beginning to panic. Headlines are now saying all arrivals after 4am Tuesday must have taken a pre departure test.. we may have to leave tonight now…it’s so difficult to get clarity on this issue…

        • AJA says:

          @Polly I think if you want to avoid the yesterday’s change you need to leave SIN tonight. I think if you arrive in the UK after 4am on Tuesday morning you will need proof of a pre-departure test.
          That’s how last week’s change to requiring a 2 day PCR test and quarantine until negative result on arrival worked.

          • Rob says:

            What will happen if BA check in staff allow you on board without a PCR test, but you don’t have a PCR test to show on arrival. What will happen to you in this case, if the authorities insist? Shouldn’t BA or the airline you’re travelling with provide absolute guidance?

  • Lou says:

    Morning all. We came back from the Canaries yesterday and went straight into the Sofitel for a Halo test (about 6:30 pm). Still waiting for the result. Looks like they may be very busy now and no results by 6am the following day.

    • Polly says:

      Think if tested in the morning, better chance of a quick result. Some are getting results back within 5 hours. We hope that happens, as ours are first thing Tuesday morning…

  • r* says:

    Anyone have any recommendations as to which are the best things to go see at dubai expo?

    • Polly says:

      Yesterday’s post plenty from BlenzAnd Genghis

    • Blenz101 says:

      I would recommend downloading the app and picking some concerts that interest you. Alisha Keys is playing next week for example. Water feature and sky garden is great fun. Talabat kitchen is very reasonable for food but if you are a foodie plenty of blogs online recommending which countries to eat at.

      Popular pavilions include Germany, Saudi, South Korea, UAE, China, Kuwait. For some there is a virtual queue in the app. Everything looks super impressive at night lit up. Plenty of beer gardens at the places you would expect, UK, Ireland, Aus etc.

      • r* says:

        Cant seem to install the app or find an apk that will install so having to go without the app. Am there atm 🙂

    • BP says:

      Go see New Zealand. Don’t eat at Singapore.

      UK is just an embaressment. Easily the worst one.

  • Phil says:

    Emailed my complaint to creation yesterday. Should I be expecting an acknowledgment and any idea on timelines for that.

    Has anyone had a response following their 8 week wait yet?

    Thank you

    • Jonathan says:

      Don’t expect anything from creation. I logged three complaints via email and one by telephone. Only 1 acknowledgement and judging by some other readers experience the 8 weeks complaint resolution deadline is even being missed.

    • CHz says:

      I got an acknowledgment a few days after my email compliant. My 8 weeks was up 25/11. Not had anything back yet. I have chased them for a response last Thursday but nothing further.

      Used curve but never NSI…

  • Geoff 1977 says:

    Less than three weeks until Christmas!

    Let’s have some positivity instead of pointless whinging!

    I wish it could be Christmas every day!

    • Andrew says:

      3 weeks for things to get much worse. Another Christmas of dread and dismay, instead of hope and joy I’m afraid.

      • Geoff 1977 says:

        Wrong. If Omicron spreads then it’ll be after Xmas. Delta will remain by far the dominant variant this year.

        My Xmas will certainly be full of hope and joy. Less of the glass half empty Andrew!

        • Andrew says:

          Enjoy the blissful hiatus before the misery begins then.

          • Geoff 1977 says:

            I will!

            Could be worse Andrew, we could be living through two world wars!

          • Blenz101 says:

            Anything to distract from the party at number 10 last year. Headlines have moved on.

            45k people mixing at Wembley today will be fine despite community transmission being in full swing. Families returning to the U.K. from abroad with pre-booked PCR tests are clearly the ones who need targeting.

            How quickly people forget the rapid handbrake turns on government policy last year.

      • Rob says:

        Mine was very cheerful on the beach in Dubai last year. I suggest you get booking ….

        • Blenz101 says:

          All booked for Christmas at the WA in RAK via Emyr. Mine is looking equally as sunny as last years 🙂

          • Spurs drive me mad says:

            Oh I’m a tad envious I really like that hotel. I’m booked for WA on Palm in January. I’m trying to be positive that it’s not cancelled. I got such a great deal in one of the sales I’ll never get that price again.

        • Geoff 1977 says:

          Good to see some positivity Bob, rather than snowflakes whinging!

          Let’s spread some Xmas cheer!

    • Dan F says:

      (But only if it’s accompanied by Off Peak avios pricing of course 🙂 )

    • BSI1978 says:

      +++++++++++1

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