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Home » I flew to the UK for the primary time throughout the pandemic. It wasn’t straightforward or low cost.

I flew to the UK for the primary time throughout the pandemic. It wasn’t straightforward or low cost.

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

  • The UK is open to vaccinated Individuals however a number of checks are required for entry.

  • Vacationers want a pre-departure check and post-arrival check whereas within the UK, whatever the size of keep.

  • Exams are expensive and a weekend journey to the UK and France value me greater than $200 in testing.

  • See extra tales on Insider’s enterprise web page.

The UK is lastly open to Individuals after greater than a 12 months of closed borders.

london

s4svisual/Shutterstock

As of August 2, vaccinated Individuals are allowed to enter the UK for non-essential functions, together with tourism.

UK border crossing at Heathrow Airport

UK border management at Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

However coming into the UK is not as straightforward as flashing a vaccination card, as it’s elsewhere in Europe. Vacationers should take checks earlier than departure and after arriving within the nation.

arizona vaccination card

Emily Alexander, 37, exhibits her COVID-19 vaccination card shortly after getting the vaccine within the car parking zone of the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on January 11, 2021. Terry Tang/AP Picture

I flew to the UK on JetBlue’s inaugural flight to London and noticed why it is not the best nation to enter, even whereas vaccinated and totally recovered from COVID-19.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK - Testing Facility at JFK Airport

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

Learn Extra: I flew on JetBlue’s historic first journey to London and noticed how low fares and nice service will give opponents a run for his or her cash

Like many nations, the UK requires a detrimental COVID-19 check earlier than arriving within the nation. Each polymerase chain response – or PCR, for brief – and antigen checks are acceptable.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK - Mobile Testing Facility

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

Supply: UK authorities

My flight to London was on a Wednesday and that meant I may get examined as early as Sunday. So, I went to the airport.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

The New York Metropolis Well being and Hospitals Company, which operates town’s public hospitals, has quite a few free testing websites all through the 5 boroughs. Its location at John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport, I’ve discovered, is at all times empty and dependable.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK - Testing Facility at JFK Airport

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

I set out on a wet Sunday to get the check and requested a PCR check simply to be protected.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK - Testing Facility at JFK Airport

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

A fast swab of the nostril and I used to be on my means. I’ve taken quite a few checks right here and have by no means billed been; although, I do see the insurance coverage claims.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK - Testing Facility at JFK Airport

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

With that check coming again detrimental in beneath 24 hours, I ought to’ve been good to enter the UK. Now, I needed to prepare a post-arrival check.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK. Thomas Pallini/Insider

American guests to the UK are required to take a “day two” check on or earlier than the second day from their arrival. I used to be touchdown on a Thursday so needed to take the check no later than Saturday.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Discovering a supplier was not straightforward. Tons of of corporations are listed on the UK authorities’s web site with no straightforward strategy to search primarily based on metropolis.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK. Thomas Pallini/Insider

After hours of looking, I discovered a testing website from the UK authorities’s web site only a few stops on the London Underground from my resort in the neighborhood of Shepherd’s Bush. It value £79 or $110.48.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

The worst half was, I had to do that course of twice since I used to be planning a day journey to France in the midst of my journey.

eiffel tower

Shutterstock.com

On prime of that, I wanted to e-book a speedy antigen check to get again into the US simply in case the PCR outcomes did not come again in time.

rapid covid test antigen

A well being employee pours a pattern for COVID-19 speedy antigen testing at Chakkarpur Neighborhood Centre on June 26, 2020 in Gurugram, India. Yogendra Kumar/Hindustan Occasions through Getty Photos

I resolved to e-book an “at-home” check for my second day two check and had the agency. ship it to my resort in London as I could not have it despatched to the US. That check value £60, or $83.90.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

The irony, although, was that I used British Airways’ web site to get a reduction code regardless that I used to be flying JetBlue.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Lastly, I booked a speedy antigen check from a supplier that had a location inside London’s St. Pancras Worldwide Station. That solely value £32 or $44.75.

Taking Eurostar between London, UK and Paris, France - Eurostar Trip 2021

Taking Eurostar between London, UK and Paris, France. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I spent a great eight hours over the course of every week planning these completely different checks and navigating the principles. As soon as I booked the checks, I used to be given a affirmation quantity to placed on my passenger locator type required to enter the UK.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I additionally wanted one other pre-departure check to get again into the UK after my facet journey to France. For that one, I went to CVS on a Tuesday earlier than my journey.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK - CVS Testing Facility

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

CVS equally gives free checks and although I had by no means used the service earlier than, I used to be hopeful the outcomes could be the identical. Three vehicles have been forward of me on the drive-thru and it took a great 20 minutes to get to the window.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK - CVS Testing Facility

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

This was a self-serve check so I needed to swap my very own nostril and put it within the offered tube and sealed bag. That check got here again in beneath 48 hours with the identical detrimental outcome.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK - CVS Testing Facility

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

Then, it was lastly time to fly to England. I printed a large stack of papers with my check outcomes and the principles for coming into the UK simply in case I used to be challenged.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I even bought two extra checks earlier than my journey on the airport and a pop-up website in Manhattan simply to make sure.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK - Mobile Testing Facility

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

The JetBlue check-in agent verified my Sunday check and vaccination doc. And with that, I used to be all set to jet.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London. Thomas Pallini/Insider

That was the final time anyone reviewed my checks. Officers usually at customs upon arrival into the UK however JetBlue had organized to make use of digital gates in London and I by no means spoke to a border agent.

Using electronic gates to cross the UK border at Heathrow Airport

Utilizing digital gates to cross the UK border at Heathrow Airport. Thomas Pallini/Insider

It was quickly time for the primary check, simply in the future into my journey. This was the speedy antigen check to get again to the US.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK - St. Pancras International Station testing facility

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Fast and painless, I left with an itchy nostril and eventual detrimental outcome.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK. Thomas Pallini/Insider

The subsequent check was the UK government-mandated day two check. I hopped on the Underground and went to Shepherd’s Bush.

London Underground Tube

Driving the London Underground. Thomas Pallini/Insider

It wasn’t part of London I wished to see or essentially be in. However I needed to take the check.

Shepherd's Bush in London

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

Lo-and-behold, I discovered it behind an eyeglass store.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

All in all, I used to be out and in in beneath 5 minutes. The outcome got here again the identical day: detrimental.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I may’ve used that outcome to fly dwelling however already booked the speedy antigen check. Again I went on my journey.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

Getting back from France on the Eurostar, I used to be requested for my detrimental COVID-19 check by customs officers. My Tuesday check from the CVS bought me in simply tremendous.

Taking Eurostar between London, UK and Paris, France - Eurostar Trip 2021

Taking Eurostar between London, UK and Paris, France. Thomas Pallini/Insider

The ultimate check was the at-home check that was delivered to my resort. I needed to take this check after getting back from France, regardless that I used to be leaving the UK in lower than 48 hours.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

Identical to the CVS check, a packet was supplied with a check package to be despatched again.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

It took a while to determine how what data to placed on the vial however there was a helpful information to help.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

This check consisted of a tonsil and nostril swab.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK. Thomas Pallini/Insider

It wasn’t very safe, although, as there was nothing verifying I used to be the individual taking the check.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK. Thomas Pallini/Insider

In any case, all I needed to do was drop off the field in a mailbox. The outcomes got here on a Wednesday after dropping it off on a Sunday morning.

Getting a COVID-19 test to travel to the UK

Getting a COVID-19 check to journey to the UK Thomas Pallini/Insider

At no level was I required to tell the UK authorities of my outcomes, nor was there any effort to verify and see if I had truly taken the checks.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London. Thomas Pallini/Insider

General, I spent $239.13 on three completely different checks with out together with journey bills and took numerous extra only for a weekend in London. I am going to persist with locations that do not require checks for future journeys.

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London - JetBlue Airways London Inaugural Flight

Flying JetBlue Airways from New York to London. Thomas Pallini/Insider

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