It’s fair to say there’s a lot more pre-travel prep these days. If you’re used to long-haul escapes, then things like vaccination certificates and filling out forms will be the norm. But for some of us, it’s a new part of going away and can take some getting used to. Couple that with changing government guidelines both home and abroad, and it can be a little tricky to keep track.
So to make things a bit easier, we’ve broken it all down into bite-sized chunks so you can work out exactly what’s what when it comes to going on holiday this summer.
Because when sunshine, sangria and switching off are on the cards, it’s so worth it…
Why do we have new travel requirements?
In a nutshell, these are the rules and regulations that governments both here and abroad have put in place to keep everyone safe while travelling between different countries at the moment.
What do I need to do to enter another destination?
It depends on the country, as they all have their own policies. Many destinations we fly to will simply accept proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result.
There are some that'll only accept proof of full vaccination and there are others that ask for a test on arrival, regardless of your vaccination status.
But all will ask you to fill in an overseas passenger locator form so they have your travel history and contact details. And now we’re no longer part of the European Union, you need to make sure your passport is less than ten years old and will still be valid for at least three months after you come back from your holiday.
And what about coming back to the UK?
Well that depends on where you’re travelling from and where the UK Government’s “traffic light” lists of green, amber and red come in. The requirements for these can change depending on your age and vaccination status, but at a minimum you’re looking at a couple of tests and a UK passenger locator form to fill out.
Do I need to quarantine when I get home?
Again, this relates to the UK Government’s “traffic light” lists. There are lots of cases where this doesn’t apply. But depending on where you’re travelling from, your age and your vaccination status, you might have to self-isolate when you get home. If you do, you may be able to cut the isolation period down using the “Test to Release” scheme.
And what about kids?
Luckily, there are often exemptions for kids, especially when it comes to needing proof of full vaccination. Just make sure you carefully check both the requirements for your holiday destination and the UK, as child ages and exemptions don’t always marry up between the different rules and regs. What’s the case one way might not be the case on the way back!
Top tip: When the UK Government talks about being “fully vaccinated”, they mean you must’ve had your final dose of an approved vaccine under the UK, EU or US vaccination programme at least 14 days before you’re due to arrive in the UK. And under 18s are exempt from any UK requirements to be “fully vaccinated” as they haven’t been vaccinated en masse here yet.
What type of tests do I need to take?
Like with most of this, it depends where you’re travelling to. Sometimes only a PCR test is accepted, while other times, you can choose between a PCR, LAMP or rapid antigen test (RAT), also known as lateral flow. More often than not you have to take your test within 72-48 hours of arrival into the destination in question and you always have to show proof. And again, the UK’s testing requirements might not match other countries in terms of types, timeframes and ages. So make sure you take the time to fully understand the destination-specific travel requirements for both parts of your trip.
Top tip: The free NHS lateral flow tests are not accepted for the UK’s testing requirements or for any of the destinations we fly to either. That’s because they don’t provide the appropriate evidence which you need to provide as proof of a negative result.
Do I still need to take a test if I’ve been fully vaccinated?
For many of our holiday destinations, proof of full vaccination is enough. But that’s not always the case, so you always need to read the destination-specific requirements, as they do vary and can change. When returning to the UK, right now tests are still required whether you’ve been fully vaccinated or not.
Do kids need to get tested?
Some ages do and some ages don’t – there’s no one rule on this one unfortunately. Again, it depends on the specific destination travel requirements, so you need to check carefully as you might have to take different actions for each of your children.
Top tip: As requirements can change, we’d recommend that you don’t start arranging COVID-19 tests until closer to your time of travel, around seven days before you’re due to take off on holiday.
What safety measures are in place at airports?
All airports differ slightly, but you might get temperature scans and checks before you enter. Inside, you’re likely to spot increased cleaning, queue management, hygiene stations and a focus on self-service to reduce contact where possible. But it’s best to check your airport’s website it you want to know more before you go.
And while keeping your distance isn’t always possible onboard the plane, face masks, staying seated as much as possible and a more contact-free experience is the approach we’re taking to stay safe. Our planes are also professionally sanitised every day with a long-lasting disinfectant. When the planes are in action, cabin air is replaced every few minutes by a hospital-grade HEPA filter.
And what about on holiday?
Once you’re on holiday, we have an amazing in-resort team who are busy taking care of everything in line with the local guidelines to make sure you have a happy and healthy stay. And that includes our hotel partners, who have also introduced extra measures to keep everyone safe and sound. Again, each hotel has its own rules, but think spacing out around the pool, more activities outside in the fresh air, pre-bookable time slots and less self-service in restaurants and bars.
Do I still have to wear a face mask?
In line with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) rules, face masks are still an absolute must in our airports, on our planes and on our transfers. As for your hotel and out and about in your holiday resort, the local laws vary so it’s best to do your research before you travel.
Still got questions? Try our COVID-19 FAQs for loads more helpful information.
*This information was correct at the time of publish, but please note that the guidelines around overseas travel during the pandemic are changing regularly so may be subject to change.
Posted: 3rd Aug 2021.