Another Brexit Question OR where to go w/5 yo in Feb 2020
November 11, 2019 4:30 AM   Subscribe

We’re making plans for school vacation week, 2/17-21/2020. The next Brexit deadline is 1/31/2020. We’re trying to decide where to go, and are a bit torn.

Family of 3, traveling February 17-21, 2020. Flying out of Boston; dates are non-negotiable (a day or two on either side is ok, but tied to school break). Looking for travel to Europe, with US as a fallback.

No, no one can predict the future. Yes, we may have some more clarity after the December 12 general election. Yes, I’ve seen the CAA faqs on the impact of a no-deal Brexit on air travel. From the faqs, my understanding is that EU carriers will continue to be able to land and refuel, but deplaning passengers would require additional agreement. Here’s some prior government advice.

The catch is that school vacation week does not defer to geopolitics, and we still need to find something to do with our 5yo (almost 6 by time of trip). But for potential Brexit disruptions, I think London would be a done deal. If you concede that 2 weeks post (potential) Brexit may not be the best time to introduce a 5.75 year old to the UK, then the options for Europe diminish significantly, because so many EU flights from the US (particularly Boston) connect through the UK. Paris is probably too pricy in any event, but we could do more expensive flights to the Netherlands, Lisbon, Madrid, and Barcelona.

Failing Europe, we’d do a shorter trip in the US.

So a super open ended question:
1) should we bag the UK option, and avoid even connecting through the UK 2 weeks post the next Brexit deadline?
2) if so, what EU city might be particularly engaging to a 5-6 year old? We did Rome last May, and it really started to open up a broader perspective on travel for her.

If needed, we’ll come back for recommendations for US travel! Thanks!
posted by Admiral Haddock to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Although nothing is impossible, it's quite difficult to see a general election result that means the UK leaves with no deal on 31 January. In addition, if you fly with a US-based airline from Boston to Heathrow, and an EU-based airline from Heathrow to your final destination, then you can take advantage of the UK government's desire to show that everything is just fine by licensing US and EU airlines.

But, looking at your suggested 'more expensive flight options', then you might just like to go to Barcelona for the week.

Other European cities that might be good for a week in February: Venice, Berlin, Amsterdam, Prague, Istanbul (not technically in Europe, but very close). There's stacks for a 5-6 year old to enjoy in London.

Check the likely weather and the risk of political unrest before choosing.
posted by plonkee at 4:47 AM on November 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

February 17-21 is a UK school holiday week - touristy places in London will be probably extra busy and accommodation will be more expensive. EU destinations will also likely be more expensive although demand may be suppressed if we have actually left the EU then.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:02 AM on November 11, 2019

None of the carriers in the Star Alliance or Sky Team networks would be likely to connect long-haul flights from the US through the UK, all the European airlines have their own hubs in their own countries and they connect through those if at all possible. Even within OneWorld (BA) anything operated by Iberia tends to connect through Spain, not London.

So I'd go on Kayak and limit myself to those alliances and explore the connections they offer.
posted by koahiatamadl at 5:09 AM on November 11, 2019

Dublin might be an option - there should be direct flights from Boston. The weather will probably not be great in February. (But the weather in August isn't automatically great either. )
posted by scorbet at 5:14 AM on November 11, 2019

I think weather would be just as much a factor. When you just need to rest a bit from walking, that lovely free park bench will passed over in winter for a seat and purchase in a cafe. Adds up.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 5:55 AM on November 11, 2019

I wouldn't risk it -- even if you're able to land and deboard, the extra time and hassle to go through customs they're doing would ruin the trip for me.

Iceland is on my shortlist, it's a short flight that you might be able to get a good deal on, and it's a perfect time to attempt to see the Northern Lights. There are also lots of cool excursions -- I've been planning a trip in my head for ages. And it would have that sense of "similar but different" that the EU has.

I'm surprised you can't find a cheap flight to Paris -- I'd keep looking on different airlines, or other airports in driving distance, as Paris and London are usually the same price for me (out of Philly, but I've looked at prices out of NYC and found the same thing).
posted by DoubleLune at 6:14 AM on November 11, 2019

Thinking about this further:

1: There will only be (further) issues with changing flights if there is both a No Deal Brexit on January 31st, AND for some reason the "EU’s Regulation 2019/502 on common rules ensuring basic air connectivity" referenced in the update to the UK government advice doesn't come into force. It's currently valid until March 30th 2020, so it wouldn't even need to be extended. The only reason I can see where it wouldn't be in place is if the UK government at that point is stupid enough to not have a reciprocal agreement in place. Which would be a stupidity too far, I think, even for the UK government.

The UK is already outside of Schengen area, so there shouldn't be any changes in terms of immigration/customs, particularly if you are not an EU(/UK) citizen. Probably you wouldn't even need to "enter" the UK in terms of immigration if you are changing flights.

It's not that easy to say if there will be any issues in London though. It's possible that there is a slightly higher risk of problems - maybe if Brexit gets delayed again?

2: The middle of February is generally hard to predict weatherwise, in most of Europe. It will tend to be warmer in Spain/Portugal/Italy, but on the other hand, there can be a misapprehension that they "don't get cold", so that there isn't any heating/insulation.

From your list, I would be wary of Barcelona, given the Catalan issues - though again it is hard to predict what will be happening in February. I was just in Lisbon, and it is definitely worth a visit, but it is quite hilly. The Netherlands and UK/Ireland can be fairly damp and cold in February. (An above freezing but damp cold.)

It will also depend what you are interested in - museums, art galleries, castles, interesting transport, simply walking around an unfamiliar city? What did you enjoy in Rome?
posted by scorbet at 9:12 AM on November 12, 2019

Iceland and then continental Europe.
I went that week ex-Logan in 2018 and it was great. Cheap (although food in Iceland isn't) and great way to see ICeland and Amsterdam. Their network has many European destinations so worth seeing what aligns with your kid's interests.
posted by TravellingCari at 1:43 PM on November 13, 2019

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