Holidaying is once again back on the cards for many Brits as the UK Government officially ended its non-essential travel ban today. Commemorating the occasion, British Airways’ CEO Sean Doyle called for the government to add the United States to its green list while removing testing requirements for those who have been vaccinated.
For most of 2021 so far, Brits have been unable to travel. In no uncertain terms, the government wanted that holidays were illegal and could attract fines of up to £5,000 ($7,050). This has now been changed, with people allowed to leave the United Kingdom for any reason. Now the only firm barrier to travel will be if the destination country will receive them.
Calling for the US on the green list
At a press conference held to mark the reopening of international travel, British Airways CEO Sean Doyle called for a travel corridor between the United Kingdom and the United States. This, in itself, isn’t great news as airlines on both sides of the Atlantic have been campaigning for such a route for quite some time. Doyle previously suggested that such a bubble could lead to the return of the Airbus A380.
Commenting, Doyle said,
“We need the government to start progressively assigning green status to many more low-risk countries… It’s clear to us that America should be on the green list, and the importance of the US and UK cannot be underestimated.”
Doyle went on to emphasize the economic impact of keeping the corridor closed, adding,
“Prohibiting travel to and from the US, not only stops loved ones being together., it has a considerable cost to the economy. And we reckon every day we’re shut it’s costing £32 million [$45 million] per day.”
So what is allowed?
Revealing the green list just over a week ago, UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that quarantine-free travel would initially just be allowed from 12 countries, with just a handful of these being viable for widespread tourism.
By far, the most popular destination on the list was Portugal. Even this didn’t come without its own set of challenges. While the UK Government’s green list was announced on Friday, May 7th, Portugal didn’t confirm that it would accept UK travelers until a week later, Friday, May 14th. With just days until the green list went live, some travelers were, understandably, a little on edge.
Passengers traveling to green list countries won’t have to quarantine on arrival in the United Kingdom. They will need to take a COVID-19 test before departure, followed by a costly PCR test on day two after travel.
In contrast, those traveling from amber countries will need to quarantine for ten days, brought down to five with a test on day five. In addition to this optional test, more PCR tests must be taken on days two and eight. Travelers from red list countries will need to self isolate in government-managed hotels for ten days. The UK Government still discourages travel to both amber and red list destinations.
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Are cheaper tests on the way?
Currently, the cheapest COVID-19 tests available to British Airways passengers are day two and eight tests from Randox. With a discount code provided by the airline, these clock in at £120 ($169) for two (£60 each). However, there is a glimmer of hope from the airline. While it is yet to be reflected on the British Airways website, Doyle let slip that British Airways will begin offering £40 ($56) PCR tests, most likely through a partner. Doyle said,
“I think we’ve been driving the cost of PCR testing down very effectively. So today we launched the £40 PCR test, which is significantly lower than a lot of what the tests were being charged say a month ago.”
Are you pleased to see the (arguably very limited) resumption of travel to and from the UK? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!