Dear Hovertravel Community
With the Government removing the final set of restrictions next week, I wanted to assure you that Hovertravel‘s first priority will always be to protect the safety of its passengers and staff. Our Health & Safety team has conducted risk assessments on all aspects of the Hovertravel journey and I wanted to explain our cautious approach to what will, and will not, change after Monday.
Our hand sanitisers, both onboard and in the terminals, will remain so that customers can clean their hands during their journey. Similarly we will continue to use our low-touch processes, such as scanning your tickets and our enhanced cleaning regime for all touchpoints. Our terminals will return to full capacity, matching the ability to fill our craft and allowing us to keep a faster flow of passengers across the entire Hovertravel experience.
Whilst we recognise the law has changed, we, along with the other ferry operators and the Isle of Wight Council, will continue to ask for face coverings to be worn during your journey. We believe that this measure is an important step in safeguarding our passengers and our people.
We have several new tickets which are designed to suit the changing nature of commuting and regular travel, plus our online Manage My Booking account facility allows customers to manage their own changes, even at the last minute. We are also extending our Hover Flexibility until 31st October 2021, giving customers the opportunity to re-book their travel to a later date, without penalty.
Throughout the pandemic our customer community has been very supportive and all of us at Hovertravel are grateful. Now, as together we learn to live with the virus, we appreciate that some of you may have questions or need a little extra help, so please ask any member of staff for assistance at any time during your journey.
The entire Hovertravel team has worked tirelessly throughout this pandemic, dedicating themselves to providing an essential link across the Solent. They understand their work contributes to the wider community, such as helping 10,000 journeys for Wessex Cancer Trust patients over the last year, and their commitment has been unwavering. I am sure you all join in me in thanking them.
We have to be personally responsible and consider the risks to both ourselves and others. As people start to travel more, and some may have not travelled for over a year, customers will make different choices. Please respect that and give your fellow passengers the space and time to travel in their own way, at their own pace.
And, as always, be kind.
Welcome to our first HoverNews of 2021. With the recovery progressing and warmer weather approaching, we wanted to update you on the news at Hovertravel and show you how you can travel with confidence this summer.
Guarantee Your Seat
From Saturday 1st May our booked system returns and you will be able to guarantee your seat on your chosen flight, as long as you have scanned your ticket five minutes before departure.
If you have made bookings for travel after 1st May, then your booking is still in our system, your place is still reserved and you do not need to re-book.
Booking online is the best way to buy and book your tickets, and helps to make your journey contactless. You can also manage your booking online for any changes you might want to make and we recently sent a guide to how to use your online account.
Easy Car Parking at Southsea
For customers who wish to park their vehicle at Southsea, there is also a contactless way to pay for your parking via the RingGo App. Both short stays and season permits for regular travellers can be purchased from RingGo.
New Duty Manager
We have a new Duty Manager; Ryan who joins the team consisting of our other Duty Managers, Terri & Scott. There is always a Duty Manager on every shift and they are there to help you if you have any questions during your time with us.
We are delighted that, thanks to a new Solent Disruption Agreement, we can continue to provide and obtain ticket acceptance with Wightlink. This means, in the event of adverse weather, technical issues or industrial causing cancellations, Hovertravel customers can use their tickets on Wightlink services
We will also continue, if cancelled, to run our free bus connections to Wightlink from Ryde and Southsea as appropriate, making the replacement travel options as easy as possible.
With the Government still recommending that people travel outside commuter periods, our great value off-peak fares are more attractive than ever. At £40 for a day trip for a family of up to five and £60 for a period return for a family of up to five, you can enjoy the thrilling experience of the hovercraft and spend as much as you like on either side of the Solent. Just remember you must book online and in advance.
Buy your Dad an experience
Our first excursion of 2021 to the Hovercraft Museum just happens to be on Fathers’ Day and there are plenty of option to entertain the dads. You can enjoy one of our 15 minute pleasure trips from Lee-on-Solent which includes pilot commentary as the hovercraft’s extreme manoeuvrability is demonstrated or fly across from Ryde to see the amazing exhibits inside the world’s only hovercraft museum.
We know that some people have not travelled with us for a year and we would ask all passengers to give each other as much space as possible when moving through the terminal, boarding or getting off the hovercraft.
We are excited to be welcoming more and more of you back onboard over the next few months and if you have any questions during your journey, our Team Leaders or Duty Manager will be happy to help.
As a regular user of our service you will have hopefully seen that we are re-instating our booked service from 1st May 2021. You will also appreciate the benefit of being able to guarantee your seat on your chosen seat as our service becomes busier and we want you to make the most of our booking facility and the associated Manage My Booking functionality.
Your account allows you to add and amend your Season Card preferred times, make ad-hoc bookings on your Season or Flexi Card, check your remaining trips on your Flexi Card, check your expiry date on your Season or Flexi Card and check your Season or Flexi Card unique ticket number.
And during lockdown our IT team added the ability for Season or Flexi card holders to renew their cards.
We appreciate that there has been no need to access your accounts for several months and we are producing a series of refresher videos to be available on our website and on YouTube over the next few weeks. These short sessions will demonstrate the features of the Manage My Booking account and we will include A Frequently Asked Questions video too.
To make the booking system as efficient and smooth running as possible we do need customers to use their bookings and always be scanned on five minutes before the departure time of their flight. We thank you in advance for helping us with these two important requests.
In the meantime please stay safe and be kind.
Head of Commercial
P.S. From 20th April we added two extra flights to our evening weekday timetable: 1745 from Ryde and 1800 from Southsea.
Dear Hovertravel customers,
The Government’s roadmap is leading us successfully out of lockdown and as we welcome more customers on our hovercraft, I am delighted to announce that our booking system will return from 1st May 2021. Having a booked service will allow us to monitor demand and deliver the best possible experience as the nation returns to work and leisure activities.
My Duty Managers will provide a detailed update about the return of bookings next week and I am sure many of you will be delighted to know that you can guarantee your seat on a specific flight. As before, I would request in the strongest terms that customers use their bookings and do not leave spare seats which could have been used by someone who needs to travel.
Next week’s update will answer your questions and will provide all the information you need to make and change bookings, so please read it carefully and then get in touch if you need further explanation. Our Customer Contact Team is currently very busy answering questions from customers who are adjusting to the changing Government restrictions, so please use our comprehensive online guide to Manage My Booking in the first instance.
As well as those of us who are looking forward to reconnecting with friends and family, we appreciate there are many people who may have not travelled with us for a while and if you need any extra help during your journey please speak to one of our Team Leaders or Duty Managers. Similarly if you need to travel for an hospital appointment, our staff are on hand to make your journey as comfortable and as easy as possible.
With the return of the FastCat on 29th April, we can also announce that our current ticket acceptance for Wightlink customers will end at midnight 30th April. The spirit of co-operation which saw the ferry operators work together for the benefit of the Solent community will continue, however with a new ticket acceptance agreement in place in the event of any disruption to services. For example, if we are cancelled due adverse weather conditions, our customers can use their tickets on Wightlink to continue their journeys.
All of us at Hovertravel are grateful for the support and encouragement you have shown us in the past year, and your kind words have helped to motivate us, keeping us smiling and looking forward to a brighter future. We will continue to play our part in ensuring the recovery is safe and sustainable, whilst giving everyone the opportunity to enjoy the relaxation of restrictions.
As always please stay safe and be kind,
Dear Hovertravel user,
With the Easter Holidays starting, our dedicated additional school flights will stop after today. We have seen pupils and teachers take advantage of these extra services, although some have chosen to travel on other flights. We will be re-introducing these extra flights into the weekday timetable from 12 April and, as many more people will be travelling thanks to Government’s lifting of the lockdown restrictions, we will be opening up these services to all customers.
From 29 March you should expect to see more passengers travelling with you, as we will be permitted to reconnect with our friends and families. At our busiest times (especially during commuter periods in the morning and afternoon) maintaining social distance between yourself and other passengers could become difficult. We strongly suggest you consider travelling earlier or later if you can and we will keep providing additional flights as demand dictates.
Additionally from 01 April as part of our staged recovery plan, our weekend timetable will be doubled with hourly departures, and that also includes all the forthcoming bank holidays in April, May and August.
Whenever you travel, you can be assured that we continue to keep your safety as our top priority for your complete journey; from arrival through to our ten minute flight to disembarkation. We ask you all to be aware of fellow passengers at all times: giving them the space and time to move at their own pace. If you feel uncomfortable at any time during your journey please speak to a member of our team.
For now, our first-come, first-served policy remains in place and our MD will be providing an update regarding the booking policy in the next few weeks.
Your Duty Managers,
Scott & Terri
Dear Hovertravel user,
Thank you for your feedback regarding our current timetable; we appreciate your comments and acknowledge that we have seen a rise in passenger numbers over the past week. To support the key workers and those with a permitted reason to travel we are adding, from today until Friday, two extra services: 1545 ex Ryde and 1600 ex Southsea. These services will continue to operate as part of our larger timetable additions which come into effect from Monday 08 March.
In addition our weekly review of demand identified the need for both craft to be available as soon as possible. The very earliest we can make this adjustment is from next Monday so please bear with us, as we deploy extra resources to meet the increased passenger numbers. Operating a two craft fleet will allow our teams on the ground to add in even more extra flights as required, and ensure we do not leave passengers behind.
For the rest of this week, we ask for your patience and understanding, recognising that there is currently sufficient capacity across the whole of the morning peak period, even with the restricted numbers onboard.
Your Duty Managers,
Scott & Terri
Dear Hovertravel community,
The route out of the pandemic is now starting to take shape, and as a team, we are delighted to see the steps which will guide us all back to normality. Please be assured that we continue to be as cautious as the government advice suggests and that our current COVID-measures will remain strictly in place.
With the very welcome priority being given to returning children to school, we are adding extra weekday services in the morning and the afternoon to ensure we have capacity to match this increased demand. These flights will be for school children primarily, with other customers able to board if there is availability.
From Monday 8th March until Friday 26th March there will be four additional flights in the morning: from Ryde – 0730 & 0800 and from Southsea 0745 & 0815. There will also be two flights added in the afternoon: from Ryde 1545 & from Southsea 1600.
The two flights departing from Ryde in the morning and the one departing from Southsea in the afternoon have been introduced for children going to and returning from school, and pupils will be given priority. If there is any surplus space available after the five minutes before departure deadline has passed, Hovertravel staff will load other customers.
These new flights are in place until the start of the Easter holidays, so will not run after Friday 26th March and all customers are reminded that they should always be at the terminal and have scanned their ticket at least five minutes before their chosen departure time.
As our customers are still limited to those with a permitted reason to travel, we are keeping our first come, first served approach until further notice, with a plan to revert to a booked service at an appropriate time in the near future. Our HoverFlexibility policy will also continue, giving you the confidence to make future bookings with the knowledge you can make free amendments, if required.
On another practical note, please note that we no longer sell car parking tickets for the Esplanade Car Park at Southsea and bookings should be made through the Ringo App. Full details can be found here.
As spring approaches and we plan for return to a more normal way of life, we hope that many of you will be making your own plans to take flight again across the Solent. All of us at Hovertravel want you to be confident that we are here to help, whether you are a regular traveller or someone who has not visited us since March last year. Please let us know if we can assist in any way during your hovercraft experience.
As always, please Hover Responsibly.
Dear Hovertravel Community,
We appreciate that travelling during lockdown can seem worrying and, for those of you who are permitted to travel, the team at Hovertravel is doing all it can to make your journey safe and COVID-secure. If you are attending medical appointments or simply require a little additional assistance, please ask a member of staff about HoverCare.
We have seen an increase in demand for key workers travelling in the morning and from Monday 15th February we will be adding a 0745 Ex Ryde and 0800 Ex Southsea to our weekday timetable. As well as listening to our customers, we are monitoring all Government communications closely and if there are any changes to the current lockdown restrictions we will be in touch as soon as possible. In the meantime, all our COVID-secure precautions will remain in place.
We started 2021 by breaking a record: transporting more mail than we have done in the previous four Januarys. Use of Royal Mail has increased hugely during all the three lockdowns and we are proud to be part of the team keeping people in touch through post and parcel deliveries.
For those of you travelling in the early evening, you may have seen the huge amounts of mail being loaded and as this can take a while, we apologise if you have experienced some slight delays to your departure.
Later in February we will be introducing a weekly performance review from our Head of Ground Operations to highlight our reliability and those times when we run additional services to ferry over extra mail or increased numbers of key workers. This review will be published every Wednesday on our website.
If you have a permitted reason to travel we thank you all for continued understanding in following all the Government guidance and keeping our staff and your fellow passengers safe. I am pleased to say that, following discussions with Wightlink, our ticket acceptance for Wightlink customers is to remain in place until 28th February. There are more details about ticket acceptance here.
We are very grateful for all your appreciation for our staff and their dedication to maintaining our service throughout all three lockdowns. These comments are shared across all our teams and always bring a smile to our hard-working frontline staff.
If you are not using us at the moment, we do miss seeing you all and we look forward to when you can travel with us again. You can keep up to date with what we are doing on our social media pages.
In the meantime, please stay home and stay safe.
Dear Hovertravel community,
I wanted to reassure you all that following the recent Government announcement, Hovertravel will continue to operate. With Portsmouth now being designated a Tier 4 area, these heightened restrictions are in place to protect us all. Travel on our hovercraft, between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight, must be limited to only those reasons permitted by the Government. If your travel is not essential, I ask you not to travel.
Hovertravel’s dedicated team of pilots, crew, engineers, ground staff and owners are committed to operate a service throughout the pandemic, but with the reduction in passengers we are now operating an hourly service, with immediate effect. We are also reverting to a first-come, first-served service. This, combined with the ability to add an extra service in under 30 minutes, will give confidence of sufficient availability to those whose travel is essential.
Please note that your online booking does not guarantee a seat at the stated time, customers must be at the terminal ten minutes prior to departure time. Preferred bookings for customers will be paused until further notice but will be re-instated when the first come, first served policy is amended.
If your travel plans have changed due to the recent announcements, please take advantage of our Hover Flexibility facility. Additionally, if required due to adverse weather conditions, Hovertravel tickets will be accepted at Wightlink’s Portsmouth‐Fishbourne car ferry and providing a bus link to ferry terminals for customers.
The rapid off-island patient transfer, freight and Royal Mail services Hovertravel provides will also all continue as they are crucial lifeline services for the communities we serve on both sides of the Solent. So, instead of delivering those Christmas presents in person, please stay local and let us fly your packages to and from the Isle of Wight.
Thanks to the understanding and patience of our customers, the support from the Isle of Wight & Portsmouth Councils and our staff, Hovertravel continues to offer a fast ferry option for essential travellers and vital supplies. We are grateful to those passengers who have followed our advice and hovered responsibly as well as those customers who have chosen not to travel.
Finally, Christmas will be very different this year for us all, but I still wanted to send my best wishes to you and your friends & families for the festive season.
Dear Hovertravel community,
As we head towards the middle of December and the festive season approaches, we need the goodwill of our customers to help us make your journey as good as it can be during these COVID times.
Hovertravel is a booked service and without a booking customers cannot be guaranteed a seat. Our craft are carrying approximately half their total capacity, excluding people travelling with their household/bubble, so if you can follow government advice to avoid busy commuter times it would be appreciated.
If you do get asked to wait in our stand-by queue, we will endeavour to get you onboard as soon as possible but please also understand the numbers in our terminals are also limited to allow passengers to observe social distancing.
If our services are delayed, customers must still check-in at the terminal ten minutes in advance of the original time of their booked service to guarantee their seat.
These procedures are in place to help you and your fellow customers have the best possible experience at Hovertravel. We are grateful for the patience and
understanding demonstrated by our customers during what has been a most unusual year.
Please stay safe and remember always Hover Responsibly.
Scott & Terri
Your Duty Managers
Dear Hovertravel community,
I am sure that, along with the customers from our fellow ferry firms, communities on both sides of the Solent will join me in thanking the crew, ground staff, engineers and pilots at Hovertravel who kept the people, post and patients moving through this last lockdown.
As the Government restrictions lift you should expect to see more passengers and we need you to stay vigilant by bringing and wearing your face covering correctly (over the mouth & nose) and give your fellow passengers extra space in queues, in terminals and when boarding and disembarking the craft.
Hovertravel has published its timetable through into the start of January 2021, demonstrating our commitment to keep providing a fast and safe link between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight for those who are permitted to travel. We are able to match our services to demand and, thanks to our dedicated staff, we can introduce extra flights at very short notice if required as we have done throughout this pandemic.
Hovertravel and Wightlink will continue to co-operate by offering ticket acceptance for customers, after this current lockdown ends on 2nd December and after the FastCat resumes on 5th December. Wightlink passengers looking to travel, who are unable to do so on any of the timetabled Fast Cat services may do so with Hovertravel at no extra cost. Hovertravel will continue to accept Wightlink tickets, and this ticket acceptance also includes free use of the Hover Bus for onward connectivity in Portsmouth. Find out more
In the event of weather disruption, Hovertravel customers will be able to use their tickets on Wightlink services. By working together in this way, we are doing all we can to keep the Solent communities connected in these challenging times and ensuring transport links are kept open for those who need to travel. This ticket acceptance will be in place until 31st January 2021, and will be monitored on a regular basis.
We will be upholding one very worthy tradition this year during the festive season and that is Hovertravel’s Christmas appeal. From the 1st December customers can donate food in trolleys in both our Ryde and Southsea terminals for local foodbanks. Tinned food, cereals and dried goods make the best donations. The Southsea trolley will be given to HIVE, as part of their Comfort & Joy Christmas campaign in conjunction with The Portsmouth News, Portsmouth Diocese and the City Council. The Ryde trolley will go to the Isle of Wight Foodbank, as supported by the Trussell Trust. This year has seen a record number of people using foodbanks, so please give what you can.
As always, please stay safe and Hover responsibly.
Today is our fourth day of running the Ryde to Portsmouth route and in this update we are reminding all customers about the protocols which must be followed when using our service. Travelling during lockdown is not the same as normal and we all need to consider our fellow travellers’ health as well as our own.
Avoid peak times
We are busiest from 0615-0800 in the morning and from 1615-1800 in the evening. The Government is asking people to avoid peak times so, if you can, please travel a little later.
Hovertravel is a booked service and without a booking we cannot guarantee travel. There is a very limited standby capacity for customers travelling outside their booked times but please do not rely on this.
There is a maximum number of passengers allowed in our terminals. We ask customers to take their own responsibility for maintaining social distancing whilst in our buildings and be aware that we may require you to wait outside.
Please be prepared, when required, to queue outside. At this time of year especially, you might need protection against the rain and cold. Again customers should take care to observe social distancing while in the queue and listen for staff announcements. There are Hovertravel-branded barriers to help you to queue.
Like other transport operators and in line with government guidance, we undertake risk assessments for all aspects of the journey: in our terminals, queuing outside and for our ten-minute flight, providing social distancing where possible.
Our teams will monitor and explain these protocols, but we need your help in following the above rules to protect our passengers and our staff.
Let’s keep ourselves safe by hovering responsibly.
Brett, Scott & Terri
Your Hovertravel Duty Managers
Message from our Duty Managers - 13/11/20
Dear Hovertravel community,
Following on from Neil’s update earlier this week, we now need to provide more details about our new Weather Contingency Plan. This update is urgent because the advance weather warning will appear for the first time on our service status at 1400 today.
As Duty Managers at Hovertravel, we have been working together with our colleagues at Wightlink so, in the event of adverse weather cancelling our service, we can provide timely information to help you plan and offer an alternative option to keep your journey on track.
Our pilots team will be reviewing the weather in advance and we will send a service status message at 1400 the day before any adverse weather cancellations are anticipated.
You can then decide to work from home, change your travel with no penalty or make your way directly to the car ferry. Please keep checking our service status before starting, and during, your journey.
Hovertravel’s service status can be found on our website, on push notifications sent to a smartphone from our app, on Facebook and Twitter pages and by calling our Service Status hotline (01983 717717). We encourage you, if possible, to download our app.
When cancelled due to weather, Hovertravel will operate a free dedicated bus from the terminal at Ryde to the Wightlink car ferry terminal at Fishbourne. Please note that this bus will have a limited capacity of 35 passengers to maintain the appropriate social distancing and will not carry bikes.
The Hoverbus in Portsmouth will include an additional stop at the Wightlink Gunwharf Quays terminal and the weather contingency timetables for both buses can be found on our website here.
Hovertravel staff at Wightlink terminals
Wightlink has provided dedicated areas in both their terminals at Fishbourne and Gunwharf Quays for Hovertravel staff to welcome you, scan your tickets and get you onboard as seamlessly as possible.
This new Weather Contingency Plan is only for the period of this second lockdown and will include a temporary pause to our Cancellation voucher policy. More details about this can be found on our website here.
The weather is highly unpredictable and we can only enact our weather contingency plan based on forecasts of weather, tide height and wind direction. As all of you realise, the conditions on the Solent can change very quickly and we may, as we have done before, be able to start operating sooner than anticipated.
Our new plan for the weather is a new operating procedure for you and us and we would ask for your patience as we deploy these new measures for the first time this weekend. At Hovertravel we are focussed on the customer and we are striving to make the weather cancellations more manageable for you all.
For those of you who do need to travel during this second lockdown, please be kind and Hover responsibly.
Brett, Scott & Terri
Your Hovertravel Duty Managers
For all of us 2020 has been the most unusual year and following the announcement of the suspension of the Fastcat, we warmly welcome Wightlink customers. By working together, we will get through this pandemic and, more specifically, this second lockdown.
As well as co-operating with our fellow ferry firms, we have taken steps to ensure that we can maintain a fast ferry option for those who need to travel.
Additional services in our timetable
We have added nine extra daily services for Monday to Friday; four more flights in the morning commuter period (Ex Ryde 0700 & 0730 and Ex Southsea 0715 & 0745) and an additional five flights to help customers returning in the evening (Ex Ryde 1600 & 1700 and Ex Southsea 1615, 1715 & 1745).
Operating both our craft and offering a 15 minute frequency during commuter times will ensure that people can travel to work, to school, to college or university and for medical appointments.
For this lockdown, we are operating a booked service and I would repeat my earlier plea to anyone not planning on travelling with us, please let us know so we can release your bookings.
In the event of adverse weather, Hovertravel is also launching a new disruption plan; a free, dedicated Hoverbus will operate between the Hovertravel terminal in Ryde and the Fishbourne Car Ferry for both Hovertravel & Wightlink customers as an alternative travel option. Hovertravel tickets will be accepted on the car ferry and our Portsmouth Hoverbus will also include an additional service stop at the Portsmouth Gunwharf Terminal. Please note the changes to our Weather Cancellation policy when this service is in operation.
Proud to serve
My team is proud and committed to be serving the communities on both sides of the Solent throughout this national emergency. If your travel is on the Government’s approved list, we will fly you safely across the Solent. If, however, you do not need to travel, we look forward to seeing you after lockdown.
As always please Hover Responsibly, Be Kind and Stay Safe
With the second lockdown starting tomorrow, I can provide some more detail about Hovertravel’s approach and how we can all work together to stay safe and travel when we need to.
Booking Etiquette - ‘Help Us to Help Others’
We are planning to maintain a service throughout this lockdown, but we need your help. If you are not going to be travelling over the next four weeks, please notify our terminal staff or email email@example.com and we will temporarily remove your preferred bookings so that those who need to travel can book. Your preferred times will be reinstated from 2nd December, ready for you to start travelling again.
We can also freeze your travel card and extend it by the period you do not travel, with our Hover Flexibility scheme - find out more.
Please keep us informed of your travel plans so we can keep flying the people who really need to travel.
Travel during lockdown
This lockdown is different in that the Government is asking people to travel to schools, universities and for medical appointments with hospitals on both sides of the Solent asking us to emphasise that people should travel for their booked hospital visits.
Other reasons for travel include: (a full updated list can be found here)
- travelling for work(where not possible to work from home),
- travelling for childcare, education,
- to care for a vulnerable person,
- to attend a funeral,
- to escape injury or harm,
- to visit someone in your support bubble
Please consider whether your travel is allowed by the Government regulations and act accordingly which means you must not travel for shopping, exercise or a day trip
Hovertravel will continue to provide a safe and speedy operation for those who should be travelling across the Solent. If you should not travel, please stay safe and we look forward to seeing you again after lockdown. And for those who need to travel with us, please Hover Responsibly, Be Kind and Stay Safe.
You can be sure that further updates will, without doubt, follow in due course.
Message from Neil Chapman, Managing Director - 02/11/20
Dear Hovertravel community,
You will have seen the recent Government announcement regarding a second lockdown. I wanted to re-assure you that we are assessing the potential impact of this announcement along with the local council and our fellow ferry operators via the Isle of Wight Transport Infrastructure Board. At the current time, and until further notice, we are operating to our winter timetable. Any future changes to our timetable will be communicated in advance.
We would remind customers who travel for medical appointments, that as the Government has stated that hospitals are still open as normal, it is imperative to plan and book your journey with us in advance to secure your seat on your chosen flight.
We recognise, however, that some of you may already be planning to change your travel with us and as of Wednesday 4th November we are re-introducing our temporary Hover Flexibility policy, giving you the opportunity to re-book your travel to a later date, without penalty. Season card holders will again be able to pause their cards if they do not need to travel. We will re-instate the dedicated page on our website, with a simple online form which customers can complete to either re-book or alternatively to keep their booking open until they wish to confirm their new date of travel. Please visit here for more information.
Hovertravel operates as a booked service only and, if you are planning not to travel in the future, please release your seats so key workers and other essential personnel can get across the Solent.
All of us at Hovertravel appreciate the efforts our customers are making, whether that is wearing a face covering or taking time to let other customers board. Together, our COVID-secure standards and your consideration for your fellow passengers are helping to keep us all safe. Thank you!
Please keep an eye out for future updates and in the meantime I ask you to Hover Responsibly, Be Kind and Stay Safe.
Message from Neil Chapman, Managing Director - 25/09/20
Dear Hovertravel community
Keeping our passengers and our people safe has always been our main priority and I wanted to re-assure you that Hovertravel continues to take all necessary precautions. Our weekly risk assessment reviews all Government guidance and, following the Government’s decision to raise the coronavirus alert level to Level 4, we have taken additional steps to protect our customers and staff.
We continue to manage the capacity onboard its craft to allow for social distancing between households and bubbles. We invite you to take a seat together with your household or bubble whilst other customers are separated by a seat for the brief under-ten minute journey.
Even with the Government advice to work from home if you can, some crossings will be full and we ask for your patience and understanding as we manage passenger demand and keep everyone safe. The current government advice to those using public transport is to avoid peak times, where you can, and we ask for your support in this matter.
Also please be patient as your fellow passengers might need a little more time to board and disembark whilst observing social distancing rules.
We are limiting the numbers of people in our terminals at any one time, to assist with social distancing and this means you may be asked to wait outside, whatever the weather so we ask you to be prepared. If rain is forecast, you may need an umbrella.
We have added more hand sanitiser dispensers and re-purposed our scan desks into hand sanitisers stations in both Ryde & Southsea terminals. We invite you to make use of these areas during your travels with Hovertravel.
Please remember you still need to wear your face coverings in our terminals, unless you are exempt as noted in the Government’s guidelines.
You must wear a face covering at all times when travelling with Hovertravel, which covers your nose and mouth correctly. This is a legal requirement and, after the recent Government announcement, we fully expect to see the police enforcing the law more strictly. A list of customers exempted from wearing a face covering is available on the Government’s website.
Please remember that, if either you and or anyone in your household are showing symptoms of Covid-19, you must not travel with us.
We are advising booking online, and in advance, to secure your seat on your selected crossing. Next week our Manage Your Booking facility will go live on our website and we will be emailing customers on our database with instructions on how to access this system. To help our efforts to follow social distancing on the hovercraft, we ask that if you have secured a seat on a chosen service that this is used, as this will assist all other customers. If you would like to switch your Season Card to our new Flexi Card, we have extended the deadline for switching until 31st December 2020.
Good to Go
We were awarded the We’re Good To Go standard at its launch in June and this further endorses our precautionary actions whilst giving customers even greater confidence that the Hovertravel experience can still be enjoyed. We’re Good To Go is the official UK mark to signal that a tourism and hospitality business follows Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and has a process in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing.
Finally, can I sincerely thank those customers who have supported Hovertravel and our staff during this pandemic. Many of you have contacted me personally to show your appreciation, and my teams and I are extremely grateful for this feedback. In addition, when we don’t get things right, we also wish to hear from you. We are proud to serve the community and to have remained operating throughout this time. As we continue to manage the months ahead, I wanted to also say thank you in advance for your patience and support, we never take this for granted.
In the meantime I ask you to Hover Responsibly, Be Kind and Stay Safe
Dear Hovertravel community
For all of us, life has changed and Hovertravel is adapting to these changes. We have innovated with the introduction of our Island Rescue stretcher patient transfer service, supporting the NHS, and we have adjusted our operation to keep the Solent communities connected safely.
Hovertravel is also evolving its product range to ensure that we offer products which are suitable for today’s travellers, taking into account: flexibility of use, low-touch options and value for money.
The new Flexi Card
From today we will phase out Travel Cards and introduce a new Flexi Card which has all the benefits of the current Travel Card, but is valid for 18 months and includes free Hoverbus. We understand office working locations have changed and this means some travel requirements are also being adjusted. With the Flexi Card you buy a number of journeys and use on whichever day you need to travel. You can book your preferred flight in advance just as you can now.
Season Cards will still be available and customers with existing Season Cards will have the opportunity to switch their Season Cards to Flexi Cards.
Additionally our new online Manage My booking facility will soon be available to all card holders so you can log into your account at your convenience to make and amend bookings. You will also see how many journeys or time you have left on your card. We are also going paper free by offering our Appreciation ‘vouchers’ as promo codes which you will find in your account to use yourself or pass on to family and friends.
As a thank you to our Gold Card holders we will be listing a number of venues where you can gain a discount by simply showing your Hovertravel Gold Card. A full list of venues and their discount types, along with full details of the new Flexi Cards, promo codes and instructions on how to access the Manage My Booking facility will be communicated to you over the coming few weeks.
The risk-assessed approach we are following is reviewed weekly and we have recently added hand sanitiser stations on our craft and in terminals so passengers can help themselves. The capacity of each flight is managed by the boarding staff, allowing household groups and social bubbles to sit together. We encourage passengers to follow our protocols, engaging and explaining the Government guidelines where necessary.
Excursions Are Back
We are delighted to announce that our excursions to the Hovercraft Museum at Lee-on-Solent will return this month. With both Hovertravel and the Hovercraft Museum having completed risk assessments according to government guidelines and achieving the Good to Go certification, we will be running our first excursion on 13th September. Capacity will be capped to ensure social distancing, please see our website for more details.
First for customer service
Our colleague Lorry Middleton has been officially acknowledged as the Visit England National Tourism Superstar 2020 which follows his Gold Customer Service Superstar award at the Beautiful South Awards. This double recognition for Hovertravel is testament to the dedication of all the team at Hovertravel and demonstrates our total commitment to our customers.
Please continue to #StaySafe, #BeKind and always #HoverResponsibly
Dear Hovertravel Community,
Thank you for your support over the last few months – you have resisted travelling until the government advice said it was allowed and you have followed our travel protocols willingly. We are proud to have achieved Visit Britain’s We’re Good To Go’ COVID-19 industry standard which is recognised UK-wide as reassurance to customers that we adhere to Government and public health guidance.
Becoming a booked service again was a necessary step in helping us to manage the capacity on our craft which in turn continues to keep our passengers and our people safe. Starting on Saturday 4th July we have added extra services to our timetable, returning to a thirty-minute frequency to give confidence to customers who wish to travel.
● Departures every thirty minutes from 0615 to 1930, Monday to Friday
● Departures every thirty minutes from 0815 to 1930 at the weekends
● Last flight from Ryde is 2015 and from Southsea is 2030, every day
In line with our ongoing risk assessment approach, our teams are handling the passenger volumes on each flight, allowing household members to sit together whilst other customers are separated by a seat for the brief under-ten minute journey.
As we take these first tentative steps towards a responsible recovery, I would ask you all to continue to:
● Be considerate to your fellow passengers and our staff
● Do not congregate near entrances or exits while waiting
● Be aware of pregnant, older and disabled people who may require a seat or extra space
● Be aware that not all disability is visible and some people may be exempt from wearing a face covering
Our customers and our teams have worked well together to keep a safe and reliable fast link operating across the Solent. Additionally by co-operating with our fellow ferry firms, other transport operators and the Isle of Wight Council we are in an excellent position to play our role in the careful revitalisation of both the Island’s and Portsmouth’s economies.
There has been progress and there is hope but we must continue to be vigilant, so as you start to consider your travel plans, please remember to book your tickets, bring your face covering and keep Hovering responsibly.
Dear Hovertravel Community,
Lockdown is being cautiously lifted by the Government with restrictions easing and we are seeing more people travelling with us. Our number one priority is, as it has been throughout this national emergency, the safety of our customers and staff. Hovertravel’s protocols, along with managing the capacity on our craft, are precautions to protect you and our teams, and I ask you to follow them fully.
To safely operate with the increasing number of passengers, from Monday 15 June, we are reverting to a booked service. The first come, first served policy worked well with the limited volumes of regular travellers we carried over the past ten weeks but we now need to evolve our approach, whilst continuing to offer a fair system for all.
Our co-operation with Wightlink and Red Funnel requires us to treat all their customers equitably and I know you all want us to still have room to carry those key workers who are indispensable for the health and wellbeing of the Solent communities.
Season and travel cards
Please use the simple form on our website to make your booking. To help you choose your flights, and avoid the peak travel times, we will be publishing a weekly update on our website to show how busy each of our crossings are for the following week.
We will be proactively monitoring all bookings and if a booking is not used more than once, the customer will be contacted so their seat can be given to some-one who needs to travel.
From 15 June we are also adding twelve more flights to our timetable to provide more capacity for our customers. On Monday to Friday there will be extra services at 0745, 1645, 2015 from Ryde and 0800, 1700, 2030 from Southsea, whilst on Saturday and Sunday there will be extra services at 0915, 1115,1715 from Ryde and 0930, 1130, 1730 from Southsea.
There is detailed information on how to book your flights available online and our team can guide you through the booking process and answer any questions you may have via our popular Live Chat facility on our website, which will be open from 1100 Thursday 11 June onwards, Monday to Friday 0900 to 1700 and Saturday to Sunday 0900 to 1300. You can also call the customer service team during these hours.
Keeping our passengers and our people safe
To travel with Hovertravel from Monday 15 June, in addition to having a booked ticket you will now be required, by law, to wear a face covering. Hovertravel has the authority to refuse travel if you do not bring and wear a face covering at all times.
I ask you, as these instructions adapt to the changing conditions, to keep observing our protocols for the safety of all.
Please Hover responsibly.
Dear Hovertravel Community
Essential Hover has been our message for the past ten weeks as we have provided a critical community service for those who needed to travel. Thank you to all of you who stayed away and did not use Hovertravel. Our priority is always the safety of our customers and staff.
As the Government starts to move us out of lockdown we are going to see more and more customers using our services. We have already seen a slight increase in people returning to work and we added two more flights to our weekday Essential Lifeline Timetable to increase capacity.
We have developed our travelling protocols based wholly on a risk assessment approach and following the Government’s detailed guidance for public transport. These are designed to keep our customers and staff safe and have been fully integrated into Hovertravel’s existing safety-first culture. Please read these protocols and help us to help control the virus.
We also ask you to bear with us as it can take longer to board and disembark when following social distancing and we are cleaning the hovercraft after every ten-minute flight. We are also managing the numbers of passengers allowed on the craft and will add in additional flights if there is sufficient demand.
Our HoverBus, which is operated by Stagecoach, is following the social distancing guidelines and so for the foreseeable future will be operated by a double-decker vehicle. Again if there is demand, the HoverBus will repeat its route to collect additional passengers.
We are working with the Government, through the Public Health England, the NHS and the DfT, to keep people safe as the cautious and limited lifting of restrictions continues to evolve. We are looking forward to the time when we are all free to travel without restriction but until then, please Hover safely.
Message from Neil Chapman, Managing Director - 12/05/20
To our Hovertravel community,
Thank you for the support we have received from so many of you, it is gratefully received and as we continue to work together to manage our way through this national emergency, I also thank you for using Hovertravel for essential travel only.
Today the Government has provided a comprehensive set of guidelines for all transport operators which outline how we can continue to safeguard our customers and staff as the number of people returning to work starts to increase. For those key workers who have been using us these guidelines will be familiar but for the majority of our customers I wanted to reassure you all that Hovertravel is committed to following the Government’s advice completely.
We have organised our terminals and our boarding/disembarking processes so that passengers can easily observe the recommended social distancing of two metres. The Government is suggesting that passengers wear face coverings and our staff will wear face coverings whilst on the craft and when it is not possible to maintain a two metre distance such as when helping a HoverCare customer.
Our enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures, introduced at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, meet the new guidelines and we will also continue to adhere to our strict regime of cleaning the craft after each service.
If your travel is essential, the Government suggests:
- Travelling off-peak
- Limiting contact with other people
- Keeping your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
- Washing your hands regularly
- Wearing a face covering
- Booking online or using cashless payments
We organised a very successful Hovertravel Users Group meeting on Zoom last week, where we were able to canvas the opinions of our current users. Hovertravel is keen to hear from any customer, even those who are not using us at the moment. Please get in touch if you have questions, comments or just to say hello.
The day will come when we can start to welcome you back on hovercraft and we are all as excited as you for that moment. In the meantime, however, please remember essential Hover only!
Stay alert, control the virus and save lives.
Firstly I must thank all of our customers who are staying at home and not travelling with us – we are sincerely grateful to you and I know that we can come through this by working together. For now, however, please remember essential hover only!
By co-operating with our fellow ferry firms we are keeping the supply routes open and transporting key workers through a limited but critical community service. We ask for your patience during this challenging time as we are adopting a first come, first served policy until further notice. This policy also applies to bicycles which we carry free of charge, although we are limited in numbers by our available storage space.
Extra services, on an ad hoc basis and at the discretion of our Duty Managers, can be added to our Essential Lifeline Timetable and over the last week we have operated several of these additional flights. This flexibility also allows us to provide our full support to the NHS and to continue to give priority to patients, which I am sure you will understand.
As you will appreciate, we are applying the social distancing guidelines to our passengers through the terminals, during boarding and disembarking after the 10 minute journey. Again, we would ask for your patience and co-operation with this process, as we will always endeavour to board you as safely as possible.
We are in regular communication with the authorities to ensure we follow the government guidelines at all times and as and when any changes to our operation are allowed I will contact you immediately.
Finally, thank you to everyone who voted for our colleague, Lorry Middleton, who was named Visit England’s Tourism Superstar 2020 on Saturday. All of us appreciate the support you have shown us, especially at the moment, and we are proud to have Lorry on our team.
Don’t forget, essential Hover only!
Stay home and stay well.
To our Hovertravel community,
As so many of you are following the government advice by not travelling (and we are sincerely grateful to you all), you may not have seen how Hovertravel is helping to transport key workers and vital supplies across the Solent. I know you will all join me in thanking our engineers, crew, operational staff and pilots. These Hovertravel heroes are keeping a critical community service running during this National Emergency.
Alongside the nurses, doctors, teachers, emergency services personnel and other medical professionals travelling with us, we are carrying vital supplies such as Wight Wash hand sanitiser from the Isle of Wight Gin Distillery to the NHS Solent Trust, PPE equipment and even a mother’s milk, separated from her new-born by the Solent.
Together with the Isle of Wight NHS Trust and the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service, we are offering a rapid off island transfer for stretcher patients from the island to hospitals in Portsmouth and Southampton.
We recognise that for so many people this is an extremely tough time and that co-operation within communities is the only way we will beat this disease, which is why we have been working together with our fellow ferry firms to keep our lifeline services operating. By accepting Red Jet and Wightlink tickets, we are able to maintain a fast ferry option for those who need to travel.
You have been connecting with us digitally and we are sharing your comments across the business. Your feedback is so welcome as it not only makes us take corrective action on those occasions when we could do better but, just as importantly during these challenging times, lifts our spirits when you tell us we are doing the right things.
One person in our team who consistently lifts our spirits, and many of our customers, is Lorry Middleton. Already a Gold Award winner for his customer service at the Beautiful South awards, you may know that Lorry is in the final for Tourism Superstar of the Year which is decided by public vote. We need your help to make him win before voting finishes on 21st April so please vote here
And finally please remember, for all our sakes, essential Hover only!
Stay home and stay well.
To the Hovertravel community,
Due to COVID-19 we are all facing unprecedented challenges and all of us at Hovertravel are asking you to avoid non-essential travel. By working together we can help slow the spread of the disease and so I implore you to question whether you need to travel with us.
Hovertravel’s reputation has been built on customer-focused values and it is those same values which mean we have to ask you to stay at home and only travel with Hovertravel if your journey is absolutely necessary. Our Essential Lifeline Timetable is for key workers and vital supplies only.
Hovertravel is fully committed to being a critical connection between the Isle of Wight and the mainland. Our fast ten minute journey time and ability to add in extra services in half an hour give us the opportunity to provide assistance when it is needed most. Our 24/7 Critical On-demand service is already supporting the medical professionals on the island.
You may have seen that through the efforts of our local MP, Bob Seely, and the Isle of Wight Transport Infrastructure Board, we can co-operate and co-ordinate with the other Isle of Wight ferry operators. By focussing our joint resources strategically, we will, together, maintain a robust and reliable set of transport links required to keep the Island functioning.
We will not see many of you over the coming weeks but we are still here, helping to support your community. Our digital and social channels are very much open and, alongside our own online activities, we invite you to connect with us virtually – we would love to hear from you!
And finally please remember, for all our sakes, essential Hover only!
Stay home and stay well.
For over 50 years Hovertravel has been proud to serve the Isle of Wight & Portsmouth communities and we are often described as a ‘family team with a corporate approach’. At times like these, we all need to work together for the good of us all.
Hovertravel has adapted its operation over the last few weeks to help protect you and our staff, with enhanced hygiene precautions both in the terminals and on board our hovercraft. At the same time, we have introduced temporary terms and conditions to help you change your travel plans or put them on hold.
Our responsibility to the communities we serve is to maintain a robustly resilient and reliable transport lifeline, transporting essential travellers and critical supplies. To do this we need to protect our workforce as diligently as we protect our customers and we need to manage our resources appropriately.
Today we have announced a new hourly timetable, starting tomorrow (24/03/20), which will allow us to keep key workers and essential freight flowing to where they are needed most. If your booking is affected by this new timetable please visit the Hover Flexibility page on our website where you can transfer bookings to a different service, extend travel periods or put a booking on hold for the future.
Even though our journey is just ten minutes, our staff are helping the essential travellers flying with us follow the social distancing rules in our terminals and remaining two metres apart. We thank our customers for working with us on this highly important procedure.
Thanks to the volunteers from our staff, we have been able to offer a 24/7 critical on-demand hovercraft service to stakeholders who need to transport key workers or critical supplies, demonstrating that we will do whatever it takes to keep our lifeline open.
Alongside my team, you have my commitment we will continue to do our utmost to support you. If though you feel we could do more, have a concern or even a request for assistance please do not hesitate to contact myself or a member of the team.
We are here for you as much as you have always been here for Hovertravel. Thank you and please stay safe.