Visiting British and American citizens who were advised to avoid international travel due to the COVID-19 virus have been bombarding local travel agencies for a refund on their tickets and to cancel their flights back home.
This comes following two recent advisories from the British High Commission and the US Department of State in T&T warning its citizens to avoid international travel due to the global impact of the COVID-19.
The US Department of State explained that many countries are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and implementing travel restrictions, mandatory quarantines, closing of borders and prohibiting non-citizens from entry with little advance notice.
On Tuesday, British High Commissioner in T&T Tim Stew issued an advisory to its nationals that its Government had advised against global travel for the next “30 days” to help contain the coronavirus.
The Commission, on its Facebook page, said they did not expect flights from T&T to the UK to continue beyond March 26, as the COVID-19 pandemic continued and advised its nationals who wished to return to the UK to contact their airline urgently.
A source at the British Embassy said roughly 5,000 British nationals would be in T&T at any given point in time.
Scores of American nationals also visit our shores each day.
Phillip Navarro, managing director of Navarro’s Travel Service said the advice issued had taken his business from 100 to zero.
“There has been a full cancellation of flights. We still want to honour tickets at some point and re-assess when these tickets can be used.
“We’re still trying to facilitate nationals who are trying to come home,” Navarro said.
Reservation agent at Willouby’s Travel Agency Deneal Bedassie said visiting American and British citizens who have been advised not to travel have been asking for a ticket refund and cancellation of their flights.
Bedassie said each airline had been updating their agency with the suspension of flights.
Jetblue, she said, suspended its services to and from Trinidad on March 18.
“Air Canada released this morning that they have ceased (operation),” Bedassie said.
She said British Airways and American Airlines’ (AA) last flight days are March 27 and 25 respectively, while AA will resume flights on May 7.
Copa Airline has also reduced air travel.
However, Besdassie said Caribbean Airlines had been operating daily.
Some airlines have indicated they will resume flights at the end of April or early May.
“People are just putting their flights on hold. We are more overwhelmed with people calling to put their tickets on hold and screaming at us for refunds.”
Besdassie said not all tickets were refundable.
Screens outlining flight schedules at the Piarco International Airport yesterday showed that Jetblue had cancelled its 4.30 pm flight B61818 to New York.
British nationals Bea Ayling and her partner Thomas Plant who came to Trinidad for leisure said they were fortunate to secure a flight.
The couple was scheduled to depart T&T next Friday, but were excited to board a flight yesterday.
“This is an unprecedented and difficult time for people. I understand why your country has taken measures to close its borders. It’s hard to tell what the UK government will do next.”
When the couple arrives in their Scotland home, they will self isolate for two weeks.
American citizen Camille Kennedy said she was eagerly awaiting to board flight AA 2703 with her two daughters.
“I just want to go home,” Kennedy said.