Advice if you’re travelling to Egypt

With the fast moving political situation in Egypt, advice for travellers has been changing daily, if not hourly over the past few days.

Egypt is one of the most popular holiday destinations for UK tourists and around 25,000 Brits are there at the moment, with many more due to fly out over the coming months.

Given the current unrest and political turmoil, what should you do if you’ve got a trip to Egypt coming up?

What is the latest advice?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issues advice on whether it is safe to travel to a destination at any one time, and airlines and tour operators take their cue from this information.

The most up to date information can be found here.

The UK government has advised against all but essential travel to Cairo, Luxor, Suez and Alexandria, and has cautioned that British travellers should seek to leave the areas in daylight to avoid any possible trouble. There is a curfew in place from mid-afternoon each day through to early morning across the entire country, which adds to the difficulties, including the timing of flights in and out of the main airports serving these areas.

What should I do if I am due to travel to any of the areas above?

Contact your tour operator, airline or travel agent and find out what options are available for you. These will vary, depending on who you have booked with and the type of travel you have booked. They range from full refunds or the offer of alternative holidays, to a transfer to a flight or holiday in Egypt at a later date.

As the situation is changing hourly, travel companies and airlines are constantly reviewing their policies on changes and cancellations. Flights to Cairo are still operating although they are subject to time alterations. Holiday flights to Luxor and Aswan have already been suspended - Luxor flights are cancelled until February 16 and Aswan flights to the end of April. Holidays involving Nile cruises are also now being affected. Check for the latest details with the company you booked with.

I am due to holiday in one of the beach resorts, what is the situation there?

The major Red Sea resorts of Sharm el Sheikh, Hurghada and Marsa Alam are located hundreds of miles from any of the areas currently affected by demonstrations and have yet to see any form of trouble. The resorts are calm and there have been no reports of protests or demonstrations.

Tour operators and airlines are operating as normal to these destinations. However, day trips and overnight excursions from these resorts to places such as Luxor and Cairo have been suspended until further notice to protect customers.

What if I don’t want to go to Egypt at all – can I cancel my holiday?

If your plans involve the cities and areas of the Nile currently subject to a travel advice, then airlines and tour operators are allowing bookings to be cancelled and altered. Check with them for full details.

However, because holidays to the beach resorts are so far unaffected, normal booking conditions will apply should you wish to cancel your planned trip. You may therefore not be eligible for a refund.

The major tour operators work closely with the FCO and will not operate holidays to any area of the country should advice change to prevent travel and these trips then be deemed unsafe.


What if I have made independent arrangements to travel to Egypt?

You will need to contact your airline and any booking companies for your options. Some may allow changes and some may not, dependent on what you have actually booked and where you were planning to travel.

Will my travel insurance cover me?

You may find that travel insurance is invalid for some travel in Egypt due to the current government advice. Check with your insurer before travelling to ensure your policy is still in force. Those travelling to the Red Sea areas should be fine.

Most insurers will not cover for cancellations to the beach resorts where travel is currently continuing as normal, so check with your insurer before making any decisions as you could be left out of pocket.

Cancellation costs in general may not be covered by insurance policies due to the nature of the troubles so again, speak to your insurer for advice before relying on a claim.

What if I am already in Egypt or plan to travel anyway?

There is limited internet and mobile phone access at present, so travellers should take precautions when travelling. If you go against FCO advice and travel to one of the areas it says is unsafe, stick to the curfew and remaining indoors at all times, keeping in contact by TV and radio for developments. You should observe extreme caution at all times.

If you plan to travel to the resort areas, your tour operator will help you stay in touch and should the troubles escalate to those areas, it will organise any appropriate arrangements.

All travellers to the country should ensure they are registered with the FCO Locate system. Embassy and Consulate staff will then be aware that you are in the country and know where you are located should the need arise for them to contact and assist you.

Last updated 11:00hrs 04 February January 2011

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