the irlines are giving incorrect information about the requirements of the Covid tests that could see passengers away from the flights, warned a watchdog.
Cal? said a mysterious shopping spree found most agents from five major British airlines – British Airways (BA), easyJet, Jet2 Ryanair and Tui – were unable to provide clear, consistent or accurate answers.
In almost half of the calls, the passenger would have been removed from his flight if he had followed the information provided by the agent.
If a traveler does not meet the entry requirements and is unable to board their flight, they will not be entitled to a refund.
The UK and decentralized governments have set the rules for testing people’s return to the UK and foreign governments in other countries determine the rules for the arrival of passengers from the UK.
The most reliable site to look for information on test requirements to travel to your destination is the FCDO website
However, when Which? contacted several major UK airports, all confirmed that it is up to the ground staff of the airlines to apply these rules and decide if anyone should be allowed to fly.
All airlines Which? contacted indicated that it is the passenger’s responsibility to ensure that they meet the requirements for boarding and that if they do not do so, they may deviate from their flight without recourse to return.
Pretending to be passengers, which one? He called BA, easyJet, Jet2, Ryanair and Tui customer service lines three times each and asked the same four questions about the test requirements when flying to mainland Portugal.
At the time of the investigation, passengers traveling to mainland Portugal had to take a test, regardless of the previous state of infection or vaccination. Only PCR tests (not lateral flow tests) were accepted for entry into Portugal and only children up to the age of two were exempt.
Mysterious consumers of the consumer watchdog received incorrect or contradictory information in seven of the 15 calls.
In four of the calls, two to BA and two to Tui, officers provided information that would allow passengers to be seen departing from their flight. Only two agents – one from Jet2 and one from Tui – were able to answer all the questions correctly.
Two Tui representatives and a BA representative told undercover investigators that vaccinated travelers did not need to take a test before their flight, with one of Tui’s agents adding that children under 12 were exempt. Another BA representative said children under the age of four were exempt from testing.
These answers were incorrect at the time of the call and customers receiving advice would be denied boarding, leaving them out of their pocket for the full cost of the flight or vacation.
Our colleagues are trained to inform our customers that they are required to verify that they meet the entry and test requirements of the country they visit.
A BA representative also told a mysterious customer that he did not need to bring any holiday documentation as long as the test data was uploaded to BA in advance.
The advice may have been enough to board the flight, but it is unlikely to allow the passenger to enter their destination country.
Only two representatives of the airlines (for Jet2 and Tui) answered all the questions with the correct information.
Six of the Agents Which? spoke – two BA representatives, two easyJet representatives, a Jet2 representative and a Ryanair representative – said they had never heard of sideflow tests, despite being a long-standing common travel requirement of the same type distributed by the NHS for rapid coronavirus testing at home.
When undercover investigators managed to talk to Ryanair representatives, they were variously told to “Ask the country,” “Check the government website,” “Call the embassy,” or “Visit the Ryanair website.”
Any easyJet agent? contacted recommending that customers call airports for information and incorrectly stated that airport staff – not easyJet ground staff – were reviewing Covid documents of passengers.
Another easyJet agent gave one of the mysterious buyers a number that they claimed was a Covid-19 advice line, but that actually turned out to be HM Revenue & Customs coronavirus helpline for businesses and freelancers.
We always remind customers that ultimately it is their responsibility to make sure they meet the entry requirements
Cal? said it strongly advises travelers not to contact their airline for Covid-19 travel advice and instead consult the Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) website, which is the best source of information on test requirements and travel rules.
Cal? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “When airlines are responsible for deciding whether a passenger can board their flight or not, it is essential that their staff have a complete and accurate understanding of the rules. Otherwise, passengers they could stay in your pocket for the full cost of your flight or vacation if you follow the wrong advice.
“The most reliable site to look for information on test requirements for traveling to your destination is the FCDO website; here you will find the most up-to-date information on entry requirements, traffic light changes and other critical information before traveling.”
A British Airways spokesman said: “Our colleagues are trained to inform our customers that they are required to check that they meet the entry and test requirements of the country they are visiting. We also provide information in emails and at ba.com.
“While we don’t believe the issues raised in the three Which calls? Are representative of the hundreds of thousands we handle, we remind colleagues to continue forwarding customers to gov.uk to avoid unintentional confusion.”
An easyJet spokeswoman said: “We continuously review the information we equip our agents with and provide them with ongoing and extensive training, so we continue with this to ensure that agents provide accurate and consistent advice to clients.
“However, we always remind customers that in the end it is their responsibility to make sure they meet the entry requirements and we will continue to advise customers to check the local government requirements before departure.”
This research highlights the complexity of frequent changes in entry and test requirements
A Jet2 spokeswoman said: “Our contact center teams are handling an unprecedented number of inquiries, while dealing with the ever-changing travel advice from the UK government which often receives little or no notice.
“We want to thank which one? For drawing this to our attention. While we offer consistent messages for our teams to use, along with regular training, we will take steps to address these comments.”
A Ryanair spokesman said: “Is this more false news than lime? All of Covid-19’s travel requirements are fully set out on Ryanair’s website and emailed to all passengers 24 hours before the trip. that our call center agents are experts in Covid’s multiple travel restrictions, which apply in 40 different countries. ”
Tui said: “This research highlights the complexity of frequent changes in entry and test requirements.
“We always strive to provide the best possible service to our customers and our agents are trained and updated with new information on an ongoing basis.
“Additional training is being provided to support query-only queries, and to assist clients, there is detailed and up-to-date information on entry requirements at our dedicated Covid center.”