Lonely Planet Writer

Swine flu = no holiday?

The global pandemic might be about to do something nasty to your holiday.

Part of the reason for going on holiday, often, is recuperating, either from the stresses of everyday life or getting over something nasty that’s knocked us for six. But as the Northern Hemisphere holiday season gets into full swing, if you show much more than a sniffle at check-in then you may not get to the departure gate.

The UK press today is buzzing with comments from British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, who both say they’ve given check-in staff training and guidance on spotting symptoms of H1N1 swine flu. And if you’re showing these signs– sore throat, runny nose and the rest - you won’t be allowed to board. So far BA say they’ve had a handful of cases and Virgin as yet have had none, but the message is clear. Flu means no flight.

Things aren’t much better for those who catch the bug on the road. Both US and British students are in quarantine in Chinese hotels, a restriction enforced after a number of pupils in both groups were diagnosed with the virus.

So what should you do? First up, keep a check of how you’re feeling. Second, if you think you’re going down with swine flu it might be an idea to postpone that trip. Insurers and holiday companies should take a lenient line given the current level of concern. Third, take care with hygiene when you are abroad and go along with any screening requests, especially at airports. Fourth, keep a bit of perspective on things. The World Health Organisation continues to advise it is safe to travel. Less than a thousand people have died from swine flu since it first came to light – many times that number have passed away from ‘regular’ Influenza.

Here's to good health and good holidays this summer. We've got lots more on swine flu here.

Tom Hall