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What it’s like to fly to the UK now…

mask off for a second... I flew into Heathrow 6 days ago. People keep asking me what my experience has been like. 

Well, everything was easy to organize though more time consuming than expected. Keeping track of the constantly changing rules is a pain.

heathrowThe UK has a traffic light system…. countries people arrive from are divided into red, amber and green, supposedly based on the number of cases.  The lists change every week. Regardless of which category you are coming from, you must have a PCR test within three days of arriving.  You must have scheduled and paid for your follow up tests. On or before day 2 if you are coming from a green country; on or before day 2 and on day 8 if you are coming from an amber or red country. If you are coming from a red country, you must go directly to a government hotel for 10 days of quarantine, at your own expense.  

Everyone also must complete a passenger locator online form. Coming from an Amber country, you can test out of quarantine on day five otherwise it is a 10-day quarantine. You are not allowed to leave for anything other than getting tested or medical issue. I opted to go to a center for my tests rather than doing via mail-in just cause I wanted the excuse to go for a walk. I’m staying in a friend’s guest room… It’s lovely. I have my own bathroom and outdoor space. They are bringing me delicious food. I’m actually enjoying every minute. But would be pretty cranky if this was using up all my vacation time.

one page of the formIf you decided to travel, I strongly recommend printing copies of EVERYTHING! I had to show ALL paperwork to check in at the airport (no online check-in for UK), again before boarding and again to the UK officials at landing. People who had to find everything on their phones were much slower to get through all the check points and officials seemed to be less pleased with them, asking way more questions. The immigration/customs queue took about 20 minutes. Really depends how many people are getting off planes. Our plane was only about a third full and I was one of the first off.

The US and Canada are on the UK Amber list, so no one was traveling for tourism. The UK reopening has just been changed to July 19 (which is the last day of the school term). People I spoke with are pretty frustrated that it was extended from June 21 making it much harder for Brits to travel abroad. But restaurants are open here and people seem to be out and about. Not me yet, of course. But I’ve made lots of reservations. Masks are worn indoors.

Things are getting busy. Some hotels I’ve tried to book are sold out through September. Whether or not to travel this summer is a personal decision. I plan to travel a lot. I am fully vaccinated and very flexible. I rarely book more than a day or two in advance so can roll with the changes. And, I don’t have a return ticket…

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