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Things you need to know

When you're planning for a holiday it's great to be prepared. With so much information out there, it can be a daunting task to sort through everything but Virgin Holidays is here to help. The following sections provide you with an overview of all the important information you need.

Foreign Office Travel Advice

We recommend that you seek advice from the Foreign Office regarding your holiday destination(s) before you book your holiday. You can easily contact them:

Alternatively, you can contact the ABTA Information Department on 0901 2015050 (calls are charged at 50p/minute).

Passport and visas

Know what? If you turn up for your flight with an invalid passport or no visa when you need one, we will be very sympathetic but... YOU CANNOT BOARD THE FLIGHT.

You must have a full and valid passport. Some destinations require you to have 6 months validity on your passport from the return date of travel. You should check with the Embassy for current requirements as these are subject to change.

Visas are required by British citizens for a number of our destinations, and a charge may be applicable - for up-to-date information check with the relevant embassy. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documentation. All other passport holders should check with the relevant embassy or consulate.

UK Passport Information

If you haven’t yet got a passport, our recommendation is that you should apply for one at least 10 weeks before your holiday departure date. The Passport Service has to confirm your identity before issuing your first passport and everybody aged 16 or over applying for their first passport will need to have an interview as part of the application process. Please note that this new process will increase the time it takes for your application to be processed. In all cases, the passport office advises you not to book any travel arrangements until you have received your new passport.

For full details of passport requirements for your chosen holiday please contact the British Passport Office on 0870 521 0410 or www.ukpa.gov.uk The US embassy can be contacted on 0207 499 9000 or www.usembassy.org.uk.

The name on each person's ticket must match the name as stated in their passport. When making your booking, please ensure the information given to us is correct. Failure to do so may result in significant charges being incurred, as some airlines treat an amendement as a name change and will charge accordingly.

Kids

All children, including newborn babies, must now have their own individual passport.

Please Note: Some destinations require a letter of authority if children are not accompanied by both legal guardians. Please check with us for further information if this applies to you.

Travelling to the USA

Passports issued on or after October 26 2006 must include an integrated circuit chip capable of storing the biographic information from the data page, a digitised photograph and other biometric information. If your passport was issued on or after this date and doesn’t have this information, you WILL require a visa.

ESTA - Electronic System for Travel Authorization

It is mandatory for anyone travelling to or transferring through the US under the Visa Waiver Program, to obtain approval to travel no later than 72 hours prior to travel by completing an online process ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) scheme. The cost of an ESTA is currently approx $14 per person and can be obtained by visiting https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov or the Visit USA Website at www.visitusa.org.uk where further information on the scheme and up to date fee can also be found. Once completed & approved, the ESTA application is valid for two years and allows multiple visits without the need to reapply. Travellers can apply for an ESTA even if they have no firm plans to travel to the US.

Failure to obtain an ESTA could result in the passenger being denied boarding by the airline.

The ESTA is very similar to the automated visa that you purchase to enter Australia and is completely paperless.

*Under certain circumstances (eg. if you have a criminal record) you may require a visa and you could be refused entry into the USA.

If your passport shows you are a British Subject you will need a Visa. This particularly applies if you are Irish but have a British Subject passport. In both these cases, you must check with the US Embassy or nearest consulate.
Anyone in doubt and all other passport holders should check with a US Embassy or consulate.

To qualify for the US Visa Waiver programme you must NOT:

  • Be suffering from any communicable disease, physical or mental disorder or be a drug abuser or addict.
  • Have been arrested or convicted for any offence or crime. This includes spent convictions or an arrest not resulting in a conviction.
  • Have ever been involved in espionage or sabotage, terrorist activities, genocide or been involved in anyway with Nazi Germany or its allies between 1933 and 1945.
  • Seeking work in the US, have been excluded or deported from the US, been previously removed from the US or attempted to procure a visa or entry into the US by fraud or misrepresentation.
  • Been detained, retained or withheld custody of a child from a US citizen granted custody of the child.
  • Been denied a US Visa or entry into the US or had a US visa cancelled.
  • Have asserted immunity from prosecution.

Advance Passenger Information

Virgin Atlantic, like other airlines, is obliged to transmit Advance Passenger Information (API) about passengers prior to the departure of flights to the United States.

Specifically, there is a requirement for all passengers to provide their country of residence and (for non-US residents) details of their full address (street name and number, city, zip code and state) for the first night's accommodation in the US. Passengers travelling to the US continue to require a machine-readable passport or valid visa.

If you have booked accommodation with us as part of your holiday booking, then you do not need to contact Virgin Atlantic in advance of your flight, as we will provide them with this information. However if you have booked a flydrive holiday without accommodation or have booked your accommodation independently, then you will need to provide Virgin Atlantic with this information yourself at check in.

Please note this information is for Virgin Atlantic flights only, if you are travelling with any other airline you may be asked to provide your accommodation details upon arrival at check-in. This information will be shown on your hotel accommodation voucher which you will receive with your tickets, so please ensure you have this handy when checking in for your flight.

We would ask that all passengers continue to provide their valid travel documents and details of their full US destination address for US Immigration. There is no requirement for passengers to arrive at the airport any earlier than usual.

You can also find out more about API through the US Customs and Border Protection website by going to www.cbp.gov/

Baggage Allowance

Take a look at the Virgin Atlantic website here to get the most up to date information on all the questions you ever need to know about the luggage you can take. There’s plenty of other information such as what sports equipment you can carry, the sizes, weights and any restrictions.

If youre travelling with any other airline, then take a look a look at the airlines own website.

Inoculations and Medical Precautions

As health requirements change, we recommend that you consult your doctor well in advance of travel, for the latest advice.

Booking Procedure

When we receive your deposit we'll email you an invoice showing the details of your holiday and charges and enclosing a summary of your insurance policy (if you have taken ours).

If you agree these, the balance should be paid 12 weeks before departure. Bookings made 12 weeks or less to the departure date must be paid for at time of booking the reservation.

We accept payment by cheque, credit card and debit card – direct payments to Virgin Holidays by credit card will incur a charge of 2% of the value of the transaction (this charge is correct at time of print and we reserve the right to increase/decrease this charge and you will be advised at the time of booking). Late bookings made within 14 days prior to departure may require ticket pickup at the airport. An administration charge of £25 per booking will apply.

After we’ve received payment of the balance, and approx 14 days before departure, air tickets, travel information, joining instructions, luggage labels and service vouchers will be sent to you or your travel agent.
Where an accommodation is requested, full payment must be made and we endeavor to have an answer within 48 hours of the request being received.

Early Booking/Bonus Offers

Please note, these offers are subject to availability and may be withdrawn at anytime. Where dates are mentioned, offer applies to stays taken and completed between the dates stated.

Please note that proof of marriage is required in order to benefit from the honeymoon offers available at selected hotels.

Insurance (this really is important)

You must, repeat must have proper travel insurance. Not all activities/excursions featured in our brochure are covered by a standard insurance policy. Please check your policy carefully to ensure that you are fully covered for all the activities/excursions in which you intend to participate. If your activity/excursion is not covered by your policy, it may be possible for you to pay an additional premium to extend your cover to include the activity/activities.

Unaccompanied Age Restrictions

For those wishing to travel unaccompanied by a parent or guardian the minimum age is 18 years. However, some hotels and resorts do not allow under-21s in a room by themselves - please check at time of booking for details or call 0870 220 2788.

Flights

The flights we use for our holidays are based on specially negotiated airfares, which enable us to offer our holidays at such beneficial prices. However, to take advantage of these airfares, the flights used may not necessarily take the most direct route. Some flights will require a change of aircraft en route. On direct flights there is no need to change aircraft during the journey, however, stops may be made en route for refueling or to let passengers on and/or off. All flight times and routings quoted are subject to change without notice.

Flights referred to on this website are planned to be operated by the airlines referred to, but Virgin Holidays reserves the right to change airlines or aircraft type at any time. Such changes will not be regarded as a material change of the components of the holiday. Any changes in flight details will be notified to you or your travel agent. Inflight entertainment does not form part of your holiday. Virgin Atlantic aims to rectify any technical faults during the aircraft turnaround, however, neither Virgin Holidays nor Virgin Atlantic will be held responsible for any lack of availability due to technical faults or difficulties or aircraft changes.

Delayed Departure

Our Holidays are based on returned scheduled flights. It is the airline's responsibility to assist all passengers in the event of a delay or re-scheduling. However Virgin Holidays staff will be on hand to provide assistance and information whenever possible. With any prolonged delay, the airline will provide meals and accommodation where necessary.

Important Note About Travel Dates

Florida

March is Spring Break time, when thousands of American college students descend on Florida for a little fun in the sun and many resorts can get very busy at this time.

The first week of June is unofficially designated Gay Week at the Walt Disney World Resort, with an extended programme of events taking place at theme parks and entertainment venues across Orlando.

All the theme parks get very busy around the main US holiday seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Please be aware that some special events, for example Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom Park, are ticketed separately and require booking in advance.

Muslim countries

You may find that there are restrictions on alcohol consumption, restaurant facilities and entertainment during the month of Ramadan, which is usually between July-August..

New England

Autumn (Fall) in New England is also referred to by locals as 'fall foliage' or 'leaf peeping' time. If you are planning to take your tour or holiday in September/ October, then please book early, as hotel rooms are in heavy demand.

In the Winter Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont become a winter wonderland - see the New Hampshire skiing holidays options.Summer attractions close for the winter and so do some restaurants. In some areas they even believe the winter starts in September! Boston is as lively in winter as any big city but some of the more 'outdoor' attractions close - also in Plymouth and Cape Cod, but those special 'Inns' are just as welcoming in January as they are in July.

Baby Food

You're not permitted to take fresh milk or jars of baby food into the US and US Customs will confiscate it! You can take a small amount of baby food in your hand luggage, for consumption on the flight only. Powder formula is allowed.

Security

What extra measures do Virgin Atlantic taking to ensure safety on board the aircraft? The door to the Flight Deck is kept locked at all times and access is vigorously controlled. Sadly visits to the Flight Deck are no longer permitted, but we're sure you understand why.

You may be asked to provide information, such as passport number, etc. for the carrier airline(s) at any time between booking and boarding the aircraft, which will only be used for security purposes and not disclosed to third parties not related to your travel arrangements.

Check-in/Check-out Information

The standard international practice is to let rooms from 12 noon to 12 noon, Check-in times are usually between 2.00pm and 3.00pm, check-out times between 11.00am and 12 noon on the day of departure, however times do vary. Therefore, if your flight arrives early in the morning, you may not be able to check in to your hotel room right away. Similarly, if your return flight is at night, you will normally be required to vacate your room at 12 noon. Day rooms are subject to availability and cost and can usually be arranged locally.

Hotel Gradings

The dictat from Brussels demands that we give categories for our hotels.

In the USA, there are no standard grading systems. Indeed some of thegrading awards require the hotels to pay subscriptions! One factor to take into account is the way that Americans actually describe their hotels. They call them 'Inns', 'Lodges', 'Resorts', 'Motels' and even 'Hotels'. 'Motels' can include some of the nicest possible properties.

Facilities and standards can vary between hotels of the same rating throughout the world. For example city hotels can have higher overall standards than a beach resort. If you compare the single-supplement charges shown on the individual hotel price panels, you can get a general idea of how hotels, of the same rating or country, compare.

We have decided to award 'v' to our hotels. We range from 3 Virgin 'v's' to 5.

Weather

Some of our featured destinations are occasionally affected by adverse weather conditions, eg. hurricanes. Due to their unpredictability, they are a force majeure event and we shall not be liable for any changes to your holiday arrangements, either before departure, or during the holiday, which in our judgement are necessary to protect your interest and/or safety.

Special Requests

We will consider special requests such as high floor, pool view, vegetarian meals, seating requests etc, if we are advised at the time of booking. Whilst we will do our best to meet any requests, no guarantee is given as this does not form part of your holiday contract.

Private Villas/Apartments

We will book your accommodation for you with the number of bedrooms requested. However, accommodation can vary in the amount of equipment and bedding provided and this will be allocated in accordance with the number of people shown on your invoice. If additional people join you while utilising the accommodation booked, we accept no responsibility or liability for any shortfall in equipment or facilities.

Credit Cards

It is standard practice worldwide for a hotel to ask for a credit card imprint to cover incidentals like room service, telephone calls or other hotel services being charged to your room. Most hotels will obtain authorisation on the required amount, which can range from $50 to $350 per room per night, subject to the range of chargeable activities offered. If you do not have a card, and wish to use the charging facility, a cash deposit will be required.

Tipping

Tipping is essential to most American restaurants and hotels and is a more important part of US culture than in Europe. It is usual to leave a 15% tip at most bars and restaurants and with taxis, while airport porters expect $1 per bag and hotel chambermaids $1 per person per day. Some restaurants do add an automatic service charge for groups of 6 or more, so check your bill carefully before tipping.

Additional Room Charges

Please be aware that some hotels may charge a small fee per room per day for some services, where available, e.g. daily phone charge or safety deposit box. You should be given these details at check in.

American Hotels

Most rooms in American hotels have two double beds and can therefore sleep 4. Ideal for a family with 2 children but not so ideal for four adults who don't know each other that well!
Rooms can also come with one large double bed - ideal for a couple. Rollaway beds can usually be supplied by the hotel but this rather depends on the room size and theres generally a local fee.

Alcohol in the USA

Liquor Laws are strict in the USA. If you are under 21 or even look under 21 (lucky you)! you'll not be able to buy alcohol unless you provide some identity with you to prove your age!

Youre also not allowed to carry booze in your car unless it is safely locked up in the trunk (boot). 

Need way say - Do not drink and drive - you know it makes sense!

Disney Dining Plan

You'll need your Disney confirmation number, which will be released once youre within 180 days of travel. Advance dining reservations are strongly suggested as some of the more popular restaurants and events can be booked up quickly. All Dinner Shows require advance dining reservations.
The conditions of the Dining Plan are as follows:
The Dining Plan must be booked a minimum of 21 days before departure, is only available on single-centre holidays and is not valid for wedding packages. Bookings MUST include at least a 5-night stay at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel and Disney tickets, for all people on the booking, both booked through Virgin Holidays. The Disney Dining Plan must be booked for everyone on the booking, for the full duration of their stay.
The Disney Dining Plan is only available at selected restaurants; full details can be provided on request. Children 3-9 years must order from the childrens menu, where available. Children age 2 years and under are not eligible for the Dining Plan and must pay locally for any food/drink consumed.

The Dining Plan will not be valid if the above conditions are not complied with. In these circumstances, we reserve the right to alter your booking accordingly.

Safety

We take the safety and security of our clients extremely seriously. Sadly, crimes against both people and their property are a fact of life the world over and when in a foreign country it is very important to be extra vigilant and avoid drawing attention to yourself.
We recommend that you seek advice from the Foreign Office regarding your holiday destination(s) before you book your holiday. You can easily contact them:

Alternatively, you can contact the ABTA Information Department on 0901 2015050 (calls are charged at 50p/minute).

Travellers have the same responsibility for their own safety and that of their possessions as they do at home.
Virgin Holidays send customer to many parts of the world, some of which dont conform to British health and safety standards. We request that all hotels/operators comply with the local regulations but we cannot guarantee that these meet British standards and therefore urge you to undertake reasonable precaution whilst on holiday.

Building Work

Sometimes redecoration work or building work can commence at or near a hotel. These circumstances are beyond our control and we do not always receive advance notification. We will notify you as soon as possible, if we consider that building work will have a significant effect on the enjoyment of your holiday. See the Booking Conditions for more details.

Camouflage Print Material

Some islands in the Caribbean prohibit camouflage print material, this can be extended to items of clothing and baggage. To avoid any inconvenience we would advise all passengers to refrain from packing/carrying such items.

As well as reading this important information, please ensure that you also read our information about costs.

Please ensure that you read our:


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