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About peteukmcr

  • Rank
    10,000+ Club

About Me

  • Location
    Manchester, UK
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    RCI Celebrity

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  1. Having now gone back to work from furlough (basically swapped with someone else) I can now see even more clearly the strain on Travel Agents. I will not condone P&O's shambolic handling of the refund process though, as our team is reduced in staff due to furloughing, but they are still processing them in a methodical order, unlike P&O which appears to be totally random. However, we are then dependant on the speed that the supplier will move. However, from a travel agents perspective, the stumbling blocks we come across when trying to contact airlines, hotels, car rental companies, Eurostar etc are in some cases huge. Some scheduled airlines despite being covered by UK law as they depart or travel to the UK are flatly refusing to provide refunds. Each one has their own different process which is mind blowing. Several airlines are nigh on impossible to contact even via 'dedicated' agents lines. Emails are not answered in a timely fashion. 1 major car rental company has basically closed all telephone lines used by travel agents and despite all the voice recognition software, eventually tell you to book online. However, due to the number of our clients that have specific contracts in place offering discounts and 'billback' processes that cannot be entered online means they are losing much of our business because car rental is on the increase due to the reluctance to travel on public transport. Even hotels, if they are open, are only taking bookings for key workers and they themselves have reduced staff (yesterday I spoke to a lady who is normal the financial director for a chain, but is back on reception to help out!). The latest survey implies that nearly 4 out of every 10 of us in the travel trade are considering a change of career because of the stress of working in this pressured environment. There will inevitably be redundancies if the market does not improve by the time the job retention scheme ends in October. So the longer quarantine processes are in place in countries around the world, preventing free travel movement and the infection rates do not diminish, the travel market will suffer with huge redundancies in the coming months. It is seen that the leisure market will suffer more than the business market, but it will still be in trouble as it will take a long time to come back to previous levels unlike the housing market which is already seeing an increase in momentum.
  2. Well finally we have been made whole, final refund of shore excursions and pre paid flight seats received today, just 73 days since initial refund submission. Now we can draw a big line under this debacle and move on. Sad to hear today that more job losses in the travel business, easyJet announcement that 30% of staff need to go and prediction that the travel business will not recover to prior levels until 2023. 43,000 BA staff to be made redundant in June with only 30,000 re-employed on far inferior contracts. Sad times. Some scheduled airlines flatly refusing to provide refunds despite travel being booked in the UK and therefore subject to our legislation and should be refunding within 7 days for cancelled flights. These are not the ones in the headlines such as Ryanair, BA, Virgin Atlantic and easyJet.
  3. Absolutely fantastic news, bet you're relieved.
  4. Sorry it's a long post, and if you have time to read it, I appreciate it. It's only now after nearly 9 weeks of lockdown do I realise the impact this pandemic has had and what has been affected, and it is still having, and will continue to do so for a long while. Hi everyone, this is my first trip over to NCL during this pandemic as I have been concentrating on getting our refund from P&O Cruises for our cancelled transatlantic from Barbados to Southampton that should have departed 28th March. That was a feat in itself but we have now received 99% of the monies and just awaiting £250 for shore excursions. Next on the list was RCI as we amended a cruise due to depart in June to the TA for Anthem of the Seas from Southampton to Cape Liberty in Oct 2021. Next on the list is supposedly Breakaway from New York in Oct this year, who knows? So what's it like in the UK? Well we live 200 miles north of London in the North West of England in Manchester. We were "locked down" on 23rd March and this was extended for another 3 weeks on April 18th with the tag lines "Stay Home", "Protect the NHS" and "Save Lives". This meant only leaving your home for 1 hour of exercise, self isolation for the vulnerable, and only leaving your home for essential visits to the supermarkets for food or medicines where queuing is now the norm. Most other business were forced to close. We then moved to the next phase on 13th May which now means we have the slogans "Stay Alert", "Control the Virus" and "Save Lives". People were encouraged to go back to work, but if possible work from home. You can meet people not from your own household in a public place like a park, but "social distancing of 2 metres" still applies. When visiting shops (more opening now) and if you cannot social distance, you should wear a face covering, but it's not mandatory. You can go outside as often as you want to exercise, and you can travel to other areas to exercise (that means lots of people are trying to the travel to beauty spots and coastal resorts with typical results of overcrowding). You are encouraged not use public transport and so the roads are now getting busier, although the city centre is still very quiet (we only live 2 miles from the centre). Restrictions for entering the UK will come into force on 8th June. Anyone entering the country by air, rail or sea will have to complete documents and self isolate for 14 days with spot checks being made by officials. Breaking isolation will incur a fine of up to £1000.That includes all UK citizens. The only exemption is for those travelling from the Republic of Ireland. However, it's strange that if you travel to Ireland you are supposed to self isolate for 14 days! There was confusion about people travelling from France (I assume because of the channel tunnel) and initially French were supposed to be exempt, but that is not the case. There are a few people that will be exempt but that is down to their occupation. The restrictions will be reviewed every 3 weeks. The only issue is that obviously the UK is split into England, Scotland and Wales and the rules for Scotland and Wales are different. Which means, even if I could visit my elderly parents (just to stand outside and wave or do shopping for them as they are 84 and 85!) I couldn't because they live in Wales (only a 75 mile drive) but I wouldn't be allowed to enter the country! Personally we were both furloughed at the start of April and put on the Governments Job Retention Scheme which guaranteed our salaries at the rate of 80%. This was initially for 2 months and was to end on 1st June. However, it was initially extended to end of June and the latest is end of July. So strictly speaking we could have been furloughed for 4 months! Then it was announced it would be extended yet again to October! However, from August to October, the government haven't yet announced what amount of support they will be providing and so employers will have to contribute to the 80% salary level. However, I pleaded to go back to work as the strain of not working was starting to have a negative effect on my mental health. So, my employers (American Express Global Business Travel) swapped me with someone else who hadn't been furloughed and I started back this week. My partners employer is hopeful that as the housing market in terms of sales will improve and so could be back in the near future. But as you can see from the name of my employer, I am involved in business travel, and that market (in addition to leisure) has been decimated. To give you an idea of the level of business I am now part of a team of 14 who are supporting all the UK clients we have. Now I was part of a team of 8 handling 8 clients, now we are potentially looking after 160! In reality a high percentage of these clients have travel bans in place so we're only dealing with a small number which are travelling because they are 'key or essential workers'. Most travel is in the UK but some is abroad. The strange thing is that even booking a hotel is a challenge as firstly you need to know if the property is open (so many closed and will stay closed for a few more months). If it is, are they allowing just 'key workers' or 'essential' too? What documentation do they require to validate the travellers status, what food and beverage options are available etc. This list goes on. No more straight forward booking of hotels! Flights are another headache as schedules have been cut to the bone, and where there is no direct service you have to ensure that the traveller is allowed to transit at the connection points and at the moment the UK is high on the list of countries being denied access to places around the world. Anyway thanks for reading, I told you it was long!
  5. Andy, I think you have the patience of a saint. But I truly hope your refunds turn up soon. Now being back off furlough and back at work I have to say business travel is very strange. Only 14 of us (out of around 80) working and instead of managing 6-8 clients, we now have a list of 160! Needless to say a very high percentage of them are not travelling so we're not overloaded with work. Our issue is the airlines and the length of time it's taking them to refund, and just like you see in the press, they are doing their best to get passengers to take vouchers. Our refunds team are working flat out and luckily the way flights are paid for we use what's called a Billing and Settlement Plan which means refunds are automated but the travellers may still have to wait for the airlines to cough up. Trouble is we deal with most of the major scheduled airlines around the world and they all have their own processes for vouchers/refunds and this changes on what feels like a daily basis. Hotels in the UK keep emailing to say here's another 20 reservations we're cancelling because we're staying closed for another month! At least we're not in a refund situation there as 99% of business travellers pay on departure. Although finding hotels for key and essential workers is a challenge, finding ones that are open, and then what proof they require for key workers, and what food and beverage options they can provide. Deliveroo and Uber Eats are thriving. The nearest I've got to sea travel is a client sending people to do maintenance on HMS Echo! Oh and if anyone saw the program about NCL Breakaway (Discovery channel "Mighty Ships") we were on that sailing is April 2013 from Rotterdam to Southampton?
  6. I'm the same, my CC company said up to 28 days.
  7. I cancelled most of ours, the problem with the wonderful P&O systems is that it seemed that if you had 3 shore excursions on 1 order, you could cancel 1, but not the other 2. Everything else I had pre paid were on separate orders and they cancelled fine. So I'm just waiting for 2 off 1 order that I couldn't cancel. What's frustrating is that when I cancelled through the personaliser I got confirmation of the cancellations almost immediately and the refunds were back on my card within 2 days. In fact credited before I submitted the claim for the whole cruise refund!
  8. I hope you can believe them, it's about time you received your refund.
  9. Again I think it's totally random, but I bet you got in before they changed the rules and people had to submit yet another form for these. This wasn't told to either P&O reps nor customers, I found out purely by chance from social media.
  10. Still awaiting refund for shore excursions and pre paid flight seats. I think most are. P&O just use the excuse that these elements are managed in other systems, so no doubt they’re lower down the pecking order.
  11. Thanks everyone, that's the situation I'm in and even though I used the card for payment to P&O at the time (for more protection), I immediately paid the amount off the card from my bank account, so now have a large credit balance.
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