Summer Holiday – Booked

Today, I have been quite the ballsy one. Chock full of bravado and daring-do. Spunky, even. Brave as a Rolex dealer strolling in full bling bling mode through a favela in Rio. Adventurous. No, not adventurous. The word just isn’t strong enough. Basically, today I strode onto the internet packing a pair of cojones the size of jet engines falling out of the Colorado sky and booked some flights to Bergerac for late June. A summer holiday!

I know, what an utterly ridiculous notion. A summer holiday indeed. Lockdown must have gotten me all a little delusional. But it’s too late now, I’ve gone and done it. I’m committed. Ryanair sure won’t be giving me my money back when I come to my senses and realise I’ve been an utter buffoon. I’m going to have to see this one through. But…don’t think I rushed into this without giving the pros and cons of such a risky endeavour at least a fleeting moment of thought.

The Pros

  • If some of us don’t start booking holidays sometime soon, there won’t be much in the way of holidays left.
  • These flights were dirt cheap. Less than fifty quid each, return. And paid for from the ‘Refunds 2020’ fund that we have set aside.
  • Ryanair will allow us to change the flights without penalty twice before the end of October, if necessary.
  • Mrs P and I, by my reckoning, will likely have had our first jab more than a month before take off.
  • We really, really want to go someone warm that is not England. A soggy beach hut on the south coast just won’t cut the mustard.
  • Infection rates are plummeting. And If the virus is seasonal, then June is surely out of season for it…?
  • We’re currently cold and bored and locked down, and now we have a holiday to look forward to and dream about.
  • We can hotel shop. Fun times! And they will be free to cancel right up to (or very close to) date of travel. No risk, which is how I like it.

The Cons

  • A new variant appears, one that laughs in the face of vaccines and eats our existing anti-bodies for breakfast. It’ll probably be the El Chapo variant.
  • A lack of take up on our flights leads to it being cancelled. Perhaps I should give the airline some free advertising…
  • Boris decides that all travelers who have been silly enough to try and keep the industry alive must have tests on the way there and back at a cost of £100 each way, per person. That, I’m afraid, is holiday over. You can’t add £400 to a four night Euro break.
  • Or worse, that he decides that everyone returning to the UK must quarantine at the sort of expense that has the bailiff and bankruptcy industries rubbing their hands together with glee.
  • Someone decides that vaccine passports are needed to travel (a perfectly good idea) but that a holder is only considered inoculated – and therefore permitted to travel – after the second dose. Which would be a ridiculous idea given the current data on effectiveness. At least permit travel for one dosers within 12 weeks of that jab.
  • The FCO decides that the time won’t be quite right at any point in 2021 to ease the don’t travel anywhere advisory.
  • Macron gets in a big huff about something and decides to say ‘Non’ to visitors who’ve had the AstaZeneca jab. Oh the absolute scenes that would cause.
  • The vaccine rollout is delayed and Mrs P and I are left hanging on for a dose of AZ’s finest corona juice.

I am, as I have tried to be throughout the pandemic, pragmatic. I’ve no intention of taking foolhardy risks. I’ve suffered at the hands of a virus quite enough in the last couple of years thank you very much and have no desire for a repeat performance. But one wants to enjoy life too. And I fully accept that life will never be a zero risk event.

The bottom line is this. The cost of our flights was low enough that we could walk away and lose the cash without feeling too devastated. Indeed, the disappointment of not having our holiday would hurt more. There’s plenty that could go wrong between now and June. Heck, there’s plenty that could go wrong between now and dinner time – this is still 2021. Mrs P and I will just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best.

But I feel a growing confidence that normal is on its way back. Ultimately, the decisions that need to be made to reopen travel corridors are not ours to make. We are at the mercy of the powers that be. Some experts see May 1st as the date things get going. Others believe August is more likely. Boris will give us a clue tomorrow evening as he reveals his roadmap out of lockdown.

Stay tuned.


Show Me The Money

The travel industry is in a little bit of a pickle, isn’t it. Almost every flight, ferry and coach service in Europe has been cancelled. The travel agents, airlines and other transport operators are legally obliged to provide a full refund within 14 days. But they don’t have the cash handy to return to their customers. This is a pickle, indeed.

Mrs P and I had three trips at risk. The first was a Ryanair flight to Malta on March 26th, which has passed. So now we have two at risk. I applied for a refund on Ryanairs website immediately. This was only three days into the lockdown, and the big voucher blag hadn’t been invented yet. 

I received a confirmation email to tell me I would be refunded as soon as possible. I waited and time passed, as it tends to do. Another email came, apologising for the delay. I waited some more. A second email came, apologising again for the delay. I waited some more.

And then another email arrived. I had been expecting it. I’d read about the big voucher blag and knew what was coming. Ryanair wasn’t going to provide a refund after all. I was going to get a voucher for future use. If I really, really wanted an actual refund, I would have to contact them using the Live Chat. Their agents were a bit busy, I was warned. It could take between forever and eternity to actually speak to anyone.

Oh, and even then I won’t get a refund, not till the pandemic had passed. Or so they said. But I had not only been expecting this email, but preparing for it too. I have a simple rule when purchasing trips. Always pay by credit card. Preferably with my Amex card. I applied for a chargeback online. And within minutes I had my money back.

We still have two trips at risk. In mid May we are due to board the night ferry to Caen. Brittany Ferries have cancelled all sailing up to and including the date we go, except for our ferry. It is, technically, the next ferry scheduled to carry passengers across the channel. But I suspect it will also be cancelled, and I will need to go through the same application, voucher, chargeback routine again.

In mid June Mrs P and I are scheduled to cross the Atlantic. Is it possible that the skies will have opened up by then? It’s possible. But I think unlikely.



I’m not talking about the Peoples Front of Judea. Nor the Judean Peoples Front. Nor even the Judean Popular Peoples Front. Splitters though they all are. I’m talking about RyanAir. The question has recently been asked, are airlines splitting up groups of travellers deliberately in order to make a bit of extra cash by forcing passengers to pay to book specific seats? I can answer that question, with the image above. The answer is yes. I do, after all, have two free seats next to me. Continue reading