Can you still visit countries close to Ukraine and Russia? The Mail Travel team answers readers’ questions about the holidays
Russia’s full-scale military offensive against Ukraine, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, began on Thursday morning.
Here, the Daily Mail travel team answers readers’ questions about what this means for those traveling Europe…
Q. Is it safe to travel to Ukraine’s neighboring countries such as Hungary, Slovakia and Romania?
Those who travel to countries neighboring Ukraine should follow the updates on the website of their airline.
A. Flights operate as normal, but check your airline’s website for the latest travel information for each country on gov.uk. Be aware that there may be refugees coming from Ukraine. Wizz Air offers return flights from Luton to Budapest from £23 (wizzair.com) while Ryanair offers flights from Stansted to Bucharest from £37 and Stansted to Bratislava from £23 (ryanair.com) .
Q. How about a trip to Poland? Krakow, for example, is very close to the border with Ukraine.
A. Krakow is 160 miles from Ukraine, but flights operate as normal. Ryanair is offering return flights from Stansted to Krakow next month for just £10 (ryanair.com).
Q. Can I get a refund for a package tour to countries close to Ukraine?
A: Not the way things are. Refunds will only be available if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against traveling to the country you were planning to visit under the Package Travel Regulations (2018). See What if there is political unrest that could affect my vacation before I travel? See the FAQ at abta.com/tips-and-advice/is-my-holiday-protected/new-package-travel-regulations.
Q. We were planning a trip to Moscow and were going to go in June…
A. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office does not currently recommend travel to certain areas, including Chechnya, North Ossetia, and areas close to the border with Ukraine. But this may change. You will also need a Russian visa; see Russia Entry Requirements on gov.uk.
Direct scheduled flights to Russia from the UK currently seem impossible, according to the Daily Mail travel team.
Q. What about flights to Russia? Are they still running?
A. Direct scheduled flights from the UK currently seem impossible as Russia has banned British airlines from its airspace in retaliation for Britain’s ban on Aeroflot. Google Flights and Skyscanner.net show no alternatives. However, Austrian Airlines has a round trip ticket to Moscow via Vienna next month starting at £205 (austrian.com) and there are other options on KLM.
Q. Are refunds offered if you have booked a direct flight to Russia?
A. Yes. British Airways was the only UK carrier with direct flights and it offers refunds.
Q. Will the ban on UK flights through Russian airspace result in delays at other destinations outside of Russia?
A. If you are traveling with a UK carrier, expect longer flight times to cities such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing and Bangkok.
British Airways does not say exactly how long the journey will take, but it could be 18 hours instead of 12.
Flights to India and Pakistan will also be delayed due to not crossing Ukrainian/Russian airspace, and about an hour is expected to be added to the journey.
The Mail Travel team helps one reader with a question about a refund for a direct flight to Russia
Q. Is it possible to bypass longer flights to the Far East and Southeast Asia?
A. Yes, fly with a non-UK airline that is allowed to cross Russian airspace.
Q. What happens if you have a cruise booked to St. Petersburg?
A. Cruise lines are looking for alternative ports. Atlas Ocean Voyages has already announced the replacement of St. Petersburg with two Finnish ports, Kotka and Mariehamn, as well as the island of Saaremaa in Estonia.