Flight prices from Portugal to Britain have rocketed in the last 24 hours as UK holidaymakers rush to return home before new 10-day quarantine restrictions come into force.
Ryanair is charging sixteen times more for a flight today compared to last Wednesday, with a ticket from Faro to Bournemouth £285 on Monday compared to £17 a week ago.
EasyJet seats from Faro to Gatwick were £227 on Monday compared to £53 last Tuesday.
Under new Covid measures from June 8, people returning from Portugal will need to self-isolate for 10 days, starting the day after they return to the UK, as the country shifts from red to amber on the Covid traffic light list.
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It’s triggered a mass panic at airports with airlines doubling flights in a bid to get passengers home.
However, many travellers are struggling to book flights home because tickets have sold out or are being retailed at heavily inflated prices. In some cases, passengers say airlines are experiencing severe staff shortages.
Some 39 flights are scheduled to depart from Faro Airport in the Algarve for the UK on Monday – nearly double the usual amount – with videos posted online showing large queues at departure lounges.
EasyJet flights from Faro to Gatwick were £227 on Monday and £53 on Tuesday
(Image: Ben Queenborough/PinPep)
In some cases, flights from Portugal to the UK hit £784 on Monday as the race to return home began.
The 13 one-way flights from Faro, Algarve, to London today averaged around six times more than the usual price.
More than 112,000 Brits are estimated to be on holiday in the popular tourist destination.
Hundreds of sun-soaked tourists squeeze into queues at Faro Airport in a hurry to return home before Tuesday's 4am 'amber list' deadline in Portugal
(Image: Zed Jameson/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock)
Passengers have also complained of staffing issues with just one TUI desk open
(Image: Zed Jameson/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock)
Holidaymakers can expect to pay around £250 for a last minute flight home on Monday compared to between £30 and £55 every day for the rest of the week.
The 5.55pm BA flight to Heathrow only had only business-class seats costing £784 left. Other BA flights were much cheaper, but still far more expensive than average.
The cheapest flight of the last UK departures from Faro was the 6:40pm WizzAir trip to Luton, costing £136.
More than 100,000 people will be rushing home today before new quarantine rules kick in
(Image: ZENPIX LTD)
Ryanair is charging £285 for a flight from Faro to Bournemouth on Monday, but just £17 on Wednesday
(Image: Getty Images)
The UK Government made its controversial decision to remove Portugal from the green list after data last week showed the Covid infection rate had surged in the country – almost doubling since it was given the green light.
The top holiday destination will be moved to the amber list from 4am on Tuesday when the updated restrictions kick in.
But many holidaymakers and travel firms expressed anger when the announcement was made last Thursday, with airlines warning the UK has effectively 'cancelled' summer and triggered thousands more job cuts in the aviation sector.
The measures come into force just 17 days after the ban on international holiday travel was lifted.
Ministers are uneasy at the possibility of new variants being imported into the UK from abroad, with the new Delta variant thought to have been brought into the UK via flights from India.
Currently, Brits visiting Portugal only need to prove they are Covid negative by taking a test before and after flying to the UK but new restrictions include a requirement to quarantine for 10 days at home.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said the situation in the country "required swift action to protect the gains made with the vaccine rollout".
The DfT added that 68 cases of the Indian mutation, which is also known as the Delta variant, have been identified in Portugal so far.
What are the rules from 4am on Tuesday?
People returning from Portugal and other amber list destinations must self-isolate at home for 10 days. They must take a pre-departure test, and PCR tests on day two and day eight of your arrival in the UK.
If you pay for a private Covid test through the Test to Release scheme, taken at least five days after arrival, you can end your quarantine early.
For travellers returning from green list countries, you do not need to quarantine, and for red list countries you must enter a quarantine hotel for 10 days and take a pre-departure test, and PCR tests on day two and day eight of your arrival in the UK.
5 tips to help avoid getting caught out by traffic light changes
If your destination is on the amber list but does not have a FCDO warning, like Portugal, airlines and most tour operators won’t offer you a refund. You will probably be able to postpone, although new dates can be more expensive.
Here's some advice to bear in mind.
Check the FCDO advice
Travel insurers follow the FCDO’s guidance when it comes to paying out – not the traffic light list. You may qualify for a refund if your holiday has switched to amber or red if it has also moved on the FCDO’s list.
Speak to your tour operator or airline about moving your flight forward as soon as possible if the country you are currently in is moving into another category.
Most have flexible booking policies, however, prices may be high. Where possible, it’s worth travelling with a credit card as this will give you a financial buffer and Section 75 protection if you end up losing out.
Book a package holiday or opt for flexi deals
Package holidays have greater legal protections if things go wrong – including refunds if the FCDO advises against travel, or if the company goes bust as a result of Atol protection.
Make sure you also book a flexible deal ie one that you can switch around if the destination moves to a different colour category or is no longer available to visit.