With just 35 hours’ notice given to return to the UK to avoid the need to self-isolate for 14 days, holidaymakers in Austria and Croatia are seeing air fares soar while availability is increasingly scarce.
At 5pm on Thursday, the transport secretary tweeted that the two central European nations – together with Trinidad & Tobago – had lost their quarantine exemption.
Anyone wishing to avoid two weeks at home must be back in the UK by 4am on Saturday. It is not sufficient to have crossed the border out of either of these countries.
Immediately, demand for the few flights out of Croatia on Friday surged. The two scheduled flights from the capital, Zagreb, to London Heathrow quickly sold out – even with Croatia Airlines charging £476 one way.
Overnight, British Airways laid on an extra service on the route. The flight is on sale at £275.
Some holidaymakers in the north of the country are heading for Venice, from where Ryanair is charging £275 for flights to Stansted and British Airways has an evening flight for £574 to Heathrow.
The afternoon flight on Ryanair from Venice to East Midlands, however, is currently under £100.
Options for travellers in the centre and south of Croatia are more limited.
Many of the connecting flights on offer are via airports in countries that are on the UK government’s no-go list, such as Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle – and transferring at one of these will itself trigger the requirement to quarantine.
The same applies for many flights from Austria. While nonstops from Vienna to the UK have sold out, there are options from Munich – at a price. The lowest fare from the Bavarian capital to Heathrow is currently £425 on Lufthansa.
In contrast, with quarantine lifted for arrivals from Portugal from 4am on Saturday, flights on Friday are expected to be largely empty.
Arrivals ahead of the 4am mark will need to self-isolate for two weeks. Most flights from Faro to London airports on Friday evening are being sold at under £50.