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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 August 2006, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Travel industry defies terror threat
Passengers waiting at London's Stansted Airport
People seem less likely to complain about security-inspired delays
The terror alert which saw airport disruption across the country will not put people off from flying, according to industry experts.

Despite the disruption to travel plans and the greatly increased waiting times, people are still willing to fly around the world in ever-increasing numbers.

Mark Turner is owner of internet-based travel company Charter Flight Centre.

He said that while calls to his company stopped while the news of the latest terror alert broke on Thursday morning, people began calling just hours later to book both long-haul and short-haul flights.

"The phones were a bit quiet while people were hearing the news and assessing the situation, but they soon starting ringing again and have been doing so ever since," he said.

"People are more concerned about how they're going to get through the airports than the danger aspect.

"It certainly seems that the attitude of our customers is 'We're not going to let this spoil our holiday'."

Passenger confidence

Mr Turner believes that while there might be an immediate "blip" in traveller numbers, he does not think that Thursday's terror alert will have any long-term affects.

"There might be a very short-term impact but when we have seen similar issues before we haven't seen people deciding not to take their annual holiday. They're very resilient.

"When incidents like this are being picked up it means travellers have confidence in the security services.

"People are also a lot more understanding that they might face a two or three hour delay because they know that the issue is being taken seriously.

Despite these kinds of incidents, the airline industry is booming. The volume of air passenger traffic is definitely on the up
Mark Turner

"There's not so much complaining going on these days about these sorts of delays.

"Despite these kinds of incidents, the airline industry is booming. The volume of air passenger traffic is definitely on the up."

Sean Tipton, press officer for the Association of British Travel Agents said "hundreds of thousands" of people will be affected by Thursday's disruption, but also said that air travel will continue to grow in popularity, despite the terror alert.

"Ever since September 11 there have been terror issues and it's not impacted on traveller numbers.

"Numbers of people flying have actually gone up since 2001. And Brits are very resilient, they will grin and bear it.

"They're not going to be stopped from going abroad, it's a ritualistic right they have to go abroad at least once a year.


"All this trouble might put a small percentage off but nothing significant.

"It's more likely to have an impact on Americans coming over here. They get very nervous about this sort of thing and it's not good news from that perspective."

Mr Tipton said that people with cancelled flights will be offered either a refund or an alternative flight by their airline.

"People with cancelled flights of any kind can either go at a later date, or will be offered their money back.

"But anyone who has booked accommodation separately might lose out. It will be up to the discretion of the hotel as to whether they offer a refund.

"However, if you've booked a package with a tour operator consisting of flights and hotels you will get every penny back.

"Thursday is not one the busiest times to travel so it's just as well that this occurred on this particular day of the week.

Airport passengers and a notice board
The travel industry says people are not being deterred from flying

"People travelling on any flight can expect to face long queues. Our advice for the majority of people is to carry on as normal, just check in earlier."

Mr Tipton said the cost of Thursday's disruption will be borne by the airline industry, which will refund individual travellers even if they did not have their own travel insurance.

"It will cost a lot of money but the industry will have to take this on the chin," he said.

"Airlines will be sorting something out about refunding people, so they shouldn't have to go to their insurers in any case.

"When these kinds of things happen the airlines and tour operators will do their best to make sure people aren't out of pocket."

Alan Leaman from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said travellers should check their insurance policies and contact their airline with regards to refunds.


"Our advice is to check with your airline or tour operator. Check the details of your travel insurance policy and talk to your travel insurers.

"Most insurance policies cover these sorts of events. The focus will be on the airlines to get people to the places they need to be."

But financial research company Defaqto said those wishing to claim on their travel policies may not be able to do so as the situation involved a threat of terrorism and not a terrorist outrage itself.

Defaqto associate director Brian Brown said: "Emergencies of this type do expose the strict terms of travel insurance policies and will encourage travellers to examine their own policies, to see how well they address these circumstances."

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