UAE residents not changing Europe travel plans despite heatwave, flight cancellations

Family commitments, familiarity with hot temperatures and the cost of changing plans are reasons for unchanged plans


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Wed 19 Jul 2023, 2:14 PM

Despite the heatwaves hitting most European countries, many UAE residents are not changing their travel plans to the continent. Family commitments, familiarity with hot temperatures and the cost of changing plans are some of the reasons for this.

For Dubai resident Maria, France is home, and she will be travelling there shortly. “My husband and two children have already left for France to be with my parents,” she told Khaleej Times, adding: “I will fly there next week. It is hotter than usual there, but we are from the Middle East. These kinds of temperatures are quite familiar to us. Also, it is important for us to go back home to see our parents. So, heatwave or not, we will be going ahead with our plans.”

On Tuesday, the World Meteorological Organisation warned of an increased risk of deaths linked to excessively high temperatures as the EU's emergency response coordination centre issued red alerts for parts of Italy, Spain, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro.

Cost issues

According to Fardan Haneef, Director of, the cost of changing plans has been a major deterrent to people changing their travel plans. “Its challenging to get a Schengen visa appointment in a short span and it costs a lot of money to get the visa, tickets and accommodation sorted,” he said. “From our experience, most people don’t even think to change their travel plans taking all these factors into considerations.”

He gave the example of one of his clients who travelled recently. “They were a family of six and they had plans to visit Switzerland and Italy,” he said. “When news of the heatwave broke, they were not really concerned. Having handled the heat in the UAE, they were confident that they could deal with the temperatures in Europe.”

This was seconded by Emily Jenkins, senior manager product development at DW Travel. She explained: “If people are looking to change or cancel their current holiday plans to Europe, then penalties are a deterrent if they cancel last minute. With the cost of holidays, as well as average length of stay increase significantly this year, customers are potentially on the line to lose a significant amount of money if holidays don’t go ahead as planned. Cancellation and change penalties vary across airlines, hotels, and other services so this cost can range up to 100 per cent.

Alternate travel plans

Another travel agent in the country said that some of her customers had raised concerns. “We've had concerns brought to us about our customers travelling to Greece,” said Ipshita Sharma, agent at SCN Travel & More. “They were worried about the wildfires, but they haven't changed their plans yet. Although last-minute plans are definitely going to get affected, plans that were made months ago are going to stay.”

Jenkins said those making last-minute plans have changed their destinations. “We have seen booking numbers to visa-free holiday destinations such as Azerbaijan, Turkey, Georgia and Thailand increasing for summer holiday travel,” she said.

“People are also going to areas outside of the city such as Trabzon, Turkey. In recent weeks we have seen enquiries for ‘cold’ destinations such as South Africa, Mauritius, Norway, Iceland, Scotland, and Ireland increase significantly for August departures,” Jenkins noted.


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