Travel in 2020: Tips from Kiwi.com
15 September 2020 – Travelling abroad is a real adventure for most people, especially given the events of the last six months. It is not easy to predict when a country will suddenly lock down an area or close its borders to tourists, and it is difficult to keep up to date with changing restrictions, as well as the many interruptions to direct and connecting flights. To help you make well-informed decisions, Eliška Dočkalová, Director of Customer Experience at the leading online travel agency Kiwi.com, offers her tips for navigating the new reality of travel in today’s complicated circumstances.
How to organise a lower-risk holiday?
Choose your destination wisely – Wherever you choose to go, consider that your experience of any destination will be different to normal. Check local infection rates in various countries: higher rates mean higher chances of coming into contact with coronavirus, so it’s a good idea to avoid “hotspots”. You can also check government recommendations regarding travel (such as a traffic light categorisation of countries). Usually, visiting a neighbouring country is a “safer” option: just check quarantine requirements for your destination and for your home country.
Some countries might require additional documentation for entry, such as a health declaration, negative test results for COVID-19, or a Passenger Locator Form. In other countries there could be a mandatory quarantine upon arrival or it might not be possible to enter at all.
Always check current situation and requirements in your destination – For the most recent information contact your local embassies or check the official government websites for all countries in your itinerary before travelling. If your itinerary involves a self-transfer during a layover, you might need to leave the airport transit zone, meaning the same entry rules could apply as if you were entering the country as a final destination. If you’re not sure whether it’s safe to travel, check out the travel recommendations per country on the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Choose transportation wisely – Planes, trains, buses and cars all have their pros and cons in the current circumstances. Some studies show that germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on aeroplanes, but on the other hand, social distancing is difficult on a crowded plane or in airport terminals and security queues. So if you choose to travel by plane, remember to keep a safe distance in queues and avoid touching common surfaces such as escalator handrails. Have your boarding pass ready on your smartphone to avoid handling a paper version.
Remember that some air travel routes are currently not operating at all or are running very limited schedules, so mixing air and ground transportation is a smart option. Kiwi.com offers its customers this service through its unique algorithm, which is able to find and mix together not only flights but also ground transportation routes within a single itinerary. For example, you can take a train from Prague to Warsaw, enjoying scenic countryside views, before returning from Warsaw to Prague by plane, ensuring a quick and efficient journey home.
Check flight availability – As a result of changing travel restrictions a lot of carriers are cancelling trips at the last minute. Although carriers and OTAs notify their passengers as soon as they can, communications can sometimes be delayed. It is advisable to check that your trip is still scheduled for departure before you travel. You can look up your flight number(s) on airline and airport websites, websites like Flightradar24.com and Flightaware.com, or Google.
Check your travel insurance – Travel insurance is essential to have during a pandemic, although many travel insurance companies don’t cover issues caused by pandemics. The safest thing to do is to check whether you are insured before you travel. Remember that, although there may be no outbreak when you book your flights, if you are not covered and an outbreak develops you could lose a lot of money. And don’t just check with your travel insurance provider; it’s also a good idea to check with your primary health insurance provider. Making sure you’re fully insured will give you peace of mind during your trip.
Check the terms and conditions of the carrier you are travelling with regarding refund policies. “Bear in mind that if you decide not to travel due to government recommendations, personal concerns, or your own symptoms of COVID-19, you will be counted as a no-show and hence will not be entitled to a refund from the airline,“ advises Eliška Dočkalová. In addition, you can check Kiwi.com for regular updated information on current coronavirus restrictions and measures introduced around the world.
Check cabin baggage conditions – Some airlines have temporarily adjusted their cabin baggage policy and reduced the amount of bags allowed on board. Cabin bags that don’t fit under the seat might need to be checked in.
Are there any tricks to finding cheaper tickets? – Many travel search engines focus on finding cheap tickets, while many bloggers and travellers regularly publicise special offers or interesting routes. One interesting and popular solution is to travel using connecting flights. This is usually cheaper than flying direct, especially on long-haul routes. In addition to using connecting flights to save money, there is another trick called ‘skiplagging’. Put simply, this involves making your final destination a transfer destination within your itinerary. Because the pricing policy of airlines fluctuates based on the activities of competitors and the occupancy of flights, the paradoxical situation often arises whereby a ticket from A to B is more expensive than a ticket from A to C via B.
“In this case, however, it is important to remember that you can travel with cabin baggage only. The airlines would expect you to make the transfer to the final booked destination, so checked baggage would go all the way through. The same goes for visas – you would need one for the final destination in order to board the initial flight,” explains Eliška Dočkalová. Because Kiwi.com searches all possible variants, such ‘skiplagging’ flight deals are included in its offers.
Stay safe – It’s still extremely important that we all work together to help prevent the spread of the virus. Wear a face mask at the airport and onboard. Bring multiple face masks for long haul flights, and consider using other personal protective equipment like gloves, shields, or hand sanitisers. Respect social distancing guidelines, and when possible keep a 2-metre distance from other travellers.
– Ends –
Kiwi.com was established when 23-year-old, Oliver Dlouhy, and Jozef Képesi recognised they weren’t being given the whole picture when it came to getting the best deal on flights.
Using advanced technology they set up Kiwi.com to find routes that airlines are not displaying to customers or they cannot sell themselves. By challenging the way it has always been done, exposing loopholes in airline pricing, and showing the deals that airlines do not want people to see, they found they could save customers money.
Carol Barnes, Head of Global Communications