Travel under the Visa Waiver program (ESTA) is restricted to travellers possessing passports with specified security features. Visa Waiver Program requirements are:
The passport must have a machine-readable zone on the biographic page
The passport must have an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner.
As of April 1, 2016, all travellers must have an e-Passport to use the VWP. An e-Passport, denoted by a symbol on the front of your passport, is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip. E-Passports are issued by the proper passport issuing authority and must meet international standards for securing and storing information corresponding to the passport and bearer.
We are monitoring reports of cases of Zika virus in parts of the Caribbean, Mexico, the Far East, and some South American destinations. The virus spreads via the bite of an infected mosquito, and may produce mild symptoms for 2-7 days such as skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain and headache. The best form of prevention is protection against mosquito bites.
Customers who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should speak to their healthcare provider for further advice if they are travelling to a destination where the Zika virus is present. Current advice is that pregnant women planning to travel should postpone non-essential travel to areas with active Zika Virus transmission until after pregnancy.
For the latest travel advice, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office guidance by destination, please follow the links below:
Any Virgin Holidays customers who are pregnant have the option to amend or cancel their booking free of charge. Passengers in the UK who are due to depart can contact our Customer Service Team on 0344 557 4321 for assistance.
If you are currently in resort and have any concerns, our resort teams are contactable 24 hours a day and numbers are available under Customer Support on our website.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and will provide updates where necessary.
Updated – 08 April 2016
Please note that some areas of the Caribbean and Mexico are occasionally being affected by an increased level of seaweed. This is an unusual natural occurrence and is changing on a regular basis with the currents. We will continue to monitor the situation carefully, but please be assured that any hotels which are affected, are working hard to remove the seaweed as quickly as possible to ensure the enjoyment of your holiday.
Virgin Atlantic have made some changes to the way you can request seats with them. Please take a look here for more details.
South Africa – Revised Immigration Rules when travelling with children (Under 18 years)
The new immigration rules for South Africa relating to travelling with children under the age of 18 comes into effect from 1st June 2015.
From 1st June 2015, parents travelling with children into or out of South Africa may be asked to show the child's unabridged (full) birth certificate, and where only one parent is accompanying, parental or legal consent for the child to travel (e.g. an affidavit from the other parent, a court order or – if applicable – a death certificate).
You should travel with these documents in case you're asked to provide them.
There are other requirements for children travelling unaccompanied or with adults who are not their parents. For more information, contact the South African High Commission or the South African Department of Home Affairs.
If you would like to find out more, you can get the latest information from the Foreign Office by clicking here
Avoid the peak hours at check in by checking in the night before your flight at Virgin Atlantic's check in desks at London Gatwick's South Terminal (Zone A). This service is available between 1700hrs and 2100hrs
It's mandatory for everyone 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.
Failure to obtain an ESTA could result in the passenger being denied boarding by the airline.
The cost of an ESTA is currently approx $14 per person and can be obtained by visiting https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. Once completed & approved, the ESTA application is valid for two years and allows multiple visits without the need to reapply – simply update your details on the same website. Travelers can apply for an ESTA even if they have no firm plans to travel to the US.
An ESTA is only valid for stays of 90 days or less.
If you need any further information on the ESTA or you have any other visa queries, then try the Visit USA Website at www.visitusa.org.uk where further information on the scheme and up to date fee can also be found.
The ESTA is very similar to the automated visa that you purchase to enter Australia and is completely paperless