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Travel Clinic

Will I be left out of pocket if the French strike again?

Q I am due to travel through France in July and have a connecting flight. If the air traffic controllers go back on strike am I covered?

A Not necessarily. Airlines like Air France will do their best to accommodate passengers and ensure they get to their destination.

But despite what the EU consumer affairs have been trying to enforce, their responsibility effectively stops at the arrivals lounge.

In today's world the knock- on costs can be exceptional. You can lose your booked accommodation or cruise.

If you book with a travel agent, it is likely your costs will be covered but changes in that field mean that may not always be the case.

To make matters worse, most travel insurance policies exclude strike action under those terms and conditions that nobody reads.

Even those that do, like the Blue Insurance product Multitrip.com, only include cover for strike action under their more expensive premium levels.

It covers pre-paid accommodation costs should you be unable to travel out to your destination due to strike or industrial action.

Blue Insurances cover kicks in after a delay of 12 hours or more to provide additional compensation to pay for food and drink. Cover must be purchased before strike action is announced.

Q I am a Polish passport holder. Why can't I travel to the USA without a visa even though I live in Ireland. We still have to go through a costly application process?

The visa process for entering the USA has been revolutionised for 37 countries, including 22 of the 28 EU members (yup, Croatia enter next month).

Poland is an exception and is usually counted among the next 11 countries that are to be included in visa waiver.

There was a lot of publicity 18 months ago about the possibility they would get visa waiver soon.

The bad news is it is not going to happen in the next two years at least. One of the factors the Americans consider is visa refusal rates and Poland's is currently 9.3pc. It needs to be under 3pc for visa waiver to happen.

While this is way ahead of Bulgaria and Romania, Cyprus and Croatia will likely be the next two countries to qualify, alongside Chile and Brazil.

Visa waiver is not a green light for everyone travelling to the USA.

The Americans are not saying that we don't require a visa, they say they are waiving the process because they trust we are travelling on holiday for a period of 90 days or less.

On our part we are required to go through a few chores not to breach that trust.

We have to register for an ESTA giving the address and zip code where we are going to stay before we travel to the USA. ESTA costs $14, no more.

Do NOT pay third party sites a fee to process your ESTA, go straight to http://cbp.gov. Some sites are charging $65 to put through a $14 application.

Another category that will need a visa is any Irish person who has overstayed a holiday visa in the past, even in the 1980s.

Most of these applications have been approved by the US consular department in Dublin. It is not a good idea to attempt to travel on ESTA without having cleared up any immigration irregularities you have had in the past.

Send questions to ecorry@herald.ie


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