Virgin's Departure Beach in Barbados

If Virgin has an “x-factor”, it’s gotta be creativity. While other brands feel stuck in the mud with important covid-19 regulations hampering UK travel demand, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays have thrown a wild idea out, which actually sounds quite fun too.

It’s called the “Escape Pass”, and it’s a mystery holiday which guarantees idyllic winter sun somewhere around the Caribbean, without the need to quarantine upon return to the UK. Quarantine fears are seen as a key obstacle in people booking travel rightnow, basically anywhere.

Like all deeply mysterious and broodingly exciting things in travel, you’ve got questions, and we’ve got most of the answers. It could be one of the more amusing silver linings of the next few months…

Virgin’s Departure Beach in Barbados

Virgin “Escape Pass”

People either…

  1. Won’t.
  2. Can’t.
  3. Can’t Afford.
  4. Shouldn’t Risk.
  5. Refuse to…

Quarantine.

The UK’s cumbersome and shifting 14 day quarantine rules have made travel an ever changing minefield, and most people simply can’t afford to take the risk.

But what if there was no risk of quarantine after the holiday at all, and some winter sun could be guaranteed without all the hassle of changing dates and plans?

Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays are offering mystery “Escape Pass” trips, which almost make it all a bit more exciting. It goes like this: you book a “escape” Caribbean getaway, specifying your cabin, the star rating you’d like from your hotel and any other details, like all-inclusive or a la carte, and two weeks before the big trip, you get an official confirmation of where and how.

There’s no need to worry about change fees, date changes or any of the usual pains. You tell Virgin when you can go, and they’ll guarantee you get a great trip.

The packages, which are ATOL protected, include airport transfers at the destination and other features, including all-inclusive options; and the Virgin’s Holidays team of experts then make sure all the boxes are ticked to your specifications for winter sun dreams. Pricing is actually pretty attractive too…

Escape pass package options for travel in 2021:

Economy Classic flights, 7 nights in 3 Star hotel on a room only basis£759
Economy Classic, 7 nights in 4 Star hotel on an all-inclusive basis£1,445
Upper Class flights, 7 nights in a 5 Star hotel on an all-inclusive basis£3,145

These packages, which must be 7 or 14 nights, target travel from January – April 2021, and speaking to Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer for Virgin Atlantic, it was noted that these may be the perfect Christmas present, which build excitement long after the box is opened.

Who wouldn’t want to open an envelope that says “we’re going somewhere warm and sunny, where there’s cold drinks and palm trees” right now? It’s better than a sweater to weather this weather.

Virgin x Caribbean

Virgin will use their long standing connections to the islands, via hoteliers, resorts and tourism boards in Barbados, Antigua, Jamaica and other traveler favorites to help select places which take covid-19 safety seriously, and offer the best current experience.

You won’t know where you’re going until two weeks before, because Virgin will coordinate to ensure the place isn’t headed for the quarantine list.

Part of the reason that these dreamy Caribbean destinations don’t currently require 14 day quarantine upon arrival into the UK, or any UK quarantine at all right now, is that a covid-19 test is necessary before departure.

Virgin Atlantic already offers each passenger up to £500,000 of complimentary covid-19 coverage automatically – yes, for free – and the airline says if a passenger happens to test positive and is therefore unable to make the trip, they’ll be able to rebook at a later date without penalty, as part of the flexibility policy.

Antigua is one such heavenly destination which requires a covid-19 test prior to flight, but no quarantine upon entry. Virgin Atlantic has negotiated special testing rates with Screen4, their preferred testing partner, ensuring people have (relatively) easy and timely access to accepted tests.

Since UK quarantine restrictions change with remarkable regularity, that’s part of the reason for the added mystery of these “escape passes”, but also part of their brilliance. They’ve presented a stress-free solution for pent up travel demand, with the biggest concern – 14 days of quarantine – out of the mix. They can shift the trip as needed, without you even thinking about change fees or the stresses they may end up dealing with.

You’re going when you want to, to somewhere worth going, and that’s that.

Speaking to Virgin, it appears they’re taking the ‘no quarantine’ guarantee quite seriously, and it’s not just a marketing ploy.

If for some insane reason all the islands Virgin operates to are placed into 14 day quarantine, they’d look at flying the plane somewhere equally lovely, if not even more exclusive. Who knows, maybe even the Maldives?

If you’re looking for winter sun, this is the only current way for UK travelers to enjoy some, with a guarantee that they won’t need to quarantine upon arrival after their trip. It’s clever stuff from Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays in a time where clever thinking is the only way. With the festive season approaching, it’s also a great way to selfishly give yourself a gift, while letting someone else benefit too.

If you want to book one of these, 0344 472 9499 is your answer, where you can speak to a Virgin Holiday expert. Winter sun, anyone?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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6 Comments

    1. I believe they’re operating on the principle that they’ll know in advance when a destination will be put on the list, and that the Caribbean remains very low risk and off the list. Also, I believe there’s understanding that the government will stick better to a schedule. For one week trips, this is pretty easy. For two week trips, I’d imagine they’d find a way to get you back in time before the cutoff.

  1. What do you mean “I’d imagine they’d find a way to get you back in time before the cutoff.”? What do they guarantee if two days into your 14 day holiday the UK Government announces a 14-day quarantine starting in 7 days on arrivals into the UK from the place you are holidaying in? Sure Virgin will get you back to the UK before the quarantine period sets in but what about the lost 5 days of your holiday?

  2. I love this idea! But as someone who has a huge amount of virgin airmiles to use would you still be entitled to the same benefits if you booked hotel only, presuming of course you could use your airmiles to match the hotel destination?
    I would like to think virgin travel consultants would still be happy to advise on a preferred destination even if booking was only made a short time before travel (presuming again that would be possible)!

  3. We are 2 adults ages 61 and 62 we just want a holiday with out hassle of COVID somewhere we can get a nice tan very hot all inclusive what have you got for us and information guaranteeing are holiday

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