Please sign in to post.

Travel to UK right now

Has anyone here flown to the UK recently? What was your experience? I have a new granddaughter and would really like to meet her before she starts school. :-) I can quarantine at home of DD but wondering what the airline experience is like right now. I normally fly Delta and have already had one ticket cancelled and refunded in May. Anyone doing this right now?

Posted by
1147 posts

My brother and his wife flew to Heathrow about a month ago, Air Canada, plane no more than 20% full. No idea if that is a common percentage or not. They quarantined with their son, who is single and working from home.

Posted by
90 posts

On arrival in the U.K. you are required to self isolate for 14days. This is subtly different from quarantine as you are allowed to self isolate with others who are well and haven’t knowingly been exposed to coronavirus. Quarantine implies that you have all been exposed. Semantics I know!
Self isolation us about protecting others and slowing the spread of coronavirus.
Self isolation in the U.K. requires you to stay in one place for 14 days where you can have food and other necessities delivered to you. You are not allowed to leave your accommodation unless absolutely necessary. You are allowed outside only in the garden of the property if there is one. Although you can stay with family and they can go out you are not allowed to have visitors unless they are providing essential services. Whilst self isolating you should stay away from others in the house in a well ventilated room and ensure regular cleaning of any shared facilities such as bathrooms.
If during this 14days you develop symptoms of coronavirus you should contact NHS111 who will advise you on next steps.
You will need to decide whether you are able to follow these steps in order to keep yourself and others safe and whether if unfortunate enough to contract coronavirus how you will continue to keep them safe and pay for any necessary medical intervention. Each persons circumstances are different but slowing the spread of coronavirus is everyone’s responsibility.

Posted by
3789 posts

No judgement, but is this DD the new mother? In which case, perhaps there is an AirBnB rental nearby where you can isolate instead? Consider risks both ways and the added burden of a new mom dealing with an infant and the special cleaning and meal needs of parents...for...two....solid....weeks.

Posted by
27 posts

Yes, DD is the new mom. Baby is now almost four months, they have had virtually NO help and are exhausted. The birth experience during Covid was less than optimum, but they have all been healthy throughout, as have I. I was scheduled to fly over for a month to help them in May, but that was all cancelled and refunded because of Covid. We've been discussing this for months, and they are all in on the visit if I am comfortable flying. They will send a car for me, as they think that is the safest route from airport to their home. They have a guest room where I can isolate and a lovely backyard garden. They are mostly concerned about my comfort level with flying right now TBH. But I'm hearing that planes are less than half full. So was trying to figure out if people had flown and what their experience has been.

Posted by
349 posts

From the information you give, the main issue for me would be the flight. The rest seems to be manageable. (Although what are your medical insurance options?) Amanda has given you good advice re the UK isolation rules.

In the past, when flown, regularly seem to have the sniffles, or sore throat, or something for a couple of days after getting off a plane. Have been thinking of going to Italy (am in London) and masking for the 2 hours or so on the plane, which I think would be OK. Thoughts of much quieter tourist destinations are appealing. (Am fit, no medical issues, not overweight etc.)

Where would you fly from? Could you mask the whole trip? I have heard that flights aren't full, but you couldn't guarantee that. I think airline cleaning would be enhanced. But obviously there could be problems if anyone on the flight is infectious

Think its up to how comfortable you feel with the situation and how you could manage the flight. Cant see an obvious right or wrong answer, depends on individuals.

Posted by
27 posts

I can buy travel insurance relatively inexpensively (or at least I could in the past). I am also healthy and don't have any co-existing medical conditions. I tend to struggle with the dry air on a plane, but I also pack zinc and allergy nasal sprays, etc., and have travelled internationally without getting sick multiple times. I would wear an N-95 mask and probably a face shield for the flight. At this point, I would fly out of Detroit or O'Hare and look for a direct flight or one stop (probably JFK over Atlanta, since NY is doing much better than GA at this point). If I stick with Delta, I know they require masks and are still blocking middle seats. I'm also a germphobe (long before Covid) and carry Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer as a matter of course.

You are correct. It's a matter of whether I'm willing to take the risk. That's what I'm weighing at this point.

Posted by
3789 posts

Do read the fine print for insurance and travel medical coverage as most if not all do not cover covid related illness.
As to what to wear on the plane, you have a good plan. I would read any recent literature about how long you can wear the N95 or any mask. Some airlines actually expect you to carry sufficient to change the mask every 4 hours. N95 can be difficult to breathe through for prolonged periods of time, so I would also take normal 3 ply disposables particularly if you are also wearing a shield. I have been working in a hospital environment all this time, and I could concur to planning to switch at the longest, every 4 hours. Sooner if you find the mask getting damp from breath. If it were me, I would also take the time to change out of my airplane clothing in the airport bathroom before getting into any car or home. Carry your clean clothing in a closed bag and put the dirty clothing in a closed bag for laundry. I know fabric holds it less, but it is one of those things we can do; so why not? Gloves? Jury is out as to the benefit of that, but again, reducing transfer to your skin isn't a bad idea. Just be sure to discard them regularly. You may look like a walking Walgren's but you will have done your due diligence.

Posted by
2849 posts

We are being very careful,(no church, restaurants or gym), but if I were in your shoes, I'd go for it. This is about family, not for a vacation. Planes appear to be one of the least risky places.

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks, MariaF. Good info to know re: the masks. My brother has access to multiple masks, so I will make sure I have enough to change them. And the clothing idea is good, too.

Posted by
27 posts

@cala. I am reading that most planes are not full at all, or I wouldn't even consider it. Delta is blocking middle seats until Jan and requiring masks, so that gives me a little bit of comfort. And yes, I wouldn't take a vacation right now, but DD really wants me to help them out for a while, and of course, I want to see the baby. :-)

Posted by
26089 posts

If during this 14days you develop symptoms of coronavirus you should contact NHS111 who will advise you on next steps.

One tiny thing about Amanda's advice of the 111 number - that isn't for Covid info or care. It is for all other NHS non-emergency care. The emergency number is 999.

The dedicated Covid number is 119.

FYI

Posted by
27 posts

Yes, after thinking this through, I will need a good supply of face masks. I have several double cotton ones sewn for the virus, and I have access to N-95 and blue medical masks.

Posted by
26089 posts

You'll need plenty of masks after your self-isolation ends too.

All shops, restaurants for take-away, indoor entertainment (if any), public transport, anywhere less than 2 metre distancing happens, require masking.

You may be surprised that when you check in to gardens etc., you need a mask during the check in period. Toilets too.

There have been discussions recently about doing a Paris where masks are required outdoors too, but that's not law yet.

But this guidance changes whenever the wind changes - and back and forth like a sideways yoyo. So expect anything, and on a moment's notice.

Posted by
26089 posts

Is your daughter in London?

Different parts of the country now have local lockdowns, but not the country as a whole. Different rules in each of the nations - Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have different to England.

Posted by
27 posts

We pretty much wear masks everywhere here right now, so I'm used to it and have a fair number in rotation with the laundry as well as disposables.

DD is in Southampton.

Posted by
70 posts

Hello:
I flew to London from the US in early July to relocate for work.

Both United flights were excellent. Masks are, of course, required and most passengers wore them properly on both flights (CLE-EWR; EWR-LHR). You must complete an online form for the UK government prior to arrival in the UK that includes much information, including where you are arriving from, where you have been for 14 days prior to arrival in the UK, and for countries not on the UK travel corridor list, where you will self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in the UK.
The e passport gates were closed when we landed, so we had to meet with a Border Force employee who reviewed out passports and the UK government online form.

My 14 day self-isolation went well, all things considered. My flat has a terrace, which helped to get fresh air. Groceries and food deliveries also helped immensely. Not being able to leave at all for walks was challenging but the days went by quickly.

After the 14 days I traveled to Italy for vacation. The roundtrip flights went well, most people wore masks appropriately. Entry back into the UK also required the UK government online form, even though Italy is currently on the UK travel corridor list. E gates were working when we landed from Italy.

Final note: where I lived in the US and where I visited in Italy, both have strong mask cultures. Most people wear masks, they are required in stores, and restaurant employees must wear them. Hand sanitizer was also everywhere in Italy. London is the opposite. People rarely wear masks, they aren’t required in restaurants, most people on buses don’t wear them, etc.

I hope the travel works out for you and that you have a healthy and happy time with your family!

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks, Colleen. Great info. And given the situation in London, I’m glad I won’t be staying there. :-)

Posted by
47 posts

You've asked about the UK, which I others are in a better position to comment on, But since you also mentioned possibly going to Italy....What I have seen and heard from friends and family in Italy these days, especially in Rome & south, is that there is little mask wearing and virtually no social distancing. That may be a more difficult sell there, because of the cultural inclination for closer physical space. As for masks, the advice from another poster is good: check with your airline. Most (all?) airlines are not allowing passengers to wear N95 masks onboard, because all of your air gets exhaled directly into the cabin. The non-N95 masks most people are wearing, especially ones with two layers of tightly woven material and a pocket filter, trap much of what you exhale in your space. There is an N95 mask that has two vents as a closed-respiration system, but these masks are hard to find and most people who are wearing N95 masks are not wearing these. I do hope you can travel safely soon to help your DD and enjoy time with your new grandchild.

Posted by
90 posts

Thanks Nigel for the number correction. Fortunately I’ve not had to use it yet and hope my family (and yours) have no need to in the future!

Posted by
27 posts

I will only be going to the UK, but the mask info is interesting. I have several fabric masks and haven’t tried an N-95. They do look like they would make breathing more challenging.

Posted by
627 posts

The N-95 masks would be difficult to wear for the length of a transatlantic flight. I tried to wear one during a back to school convocation and I just couldn't do it. (it was 3 hours long). I too have family in the UK and are trying to figure out how to visit next year. I am thinking that I may have to splurge for Business class for some extra distance. To be honest, If I was in your situation, I would be inclined to go and visit. You are there to help and not really there as a tourist sightseeing. If they have been careful then I think you will be OK.

Margaret

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks, Margaret. It's good to know more about the N-95 and what it's like to wear one. I haven't tried them.

Yes, I have been watching and reading since before the baby was born (in May). I think I will feel as safe now as possible given the uncertain future with Covid. And I'm concerned that when the weather gets cold and flu season rolls around it will get worse. So after reading all the responses (thanks, all!), I think I'll buy a ticket!

Posted by
10073 posts

Colleen... you said you had groceries delivered. Were you using a U.S. based credit card and if so which grocery chain? I know I can get restaurant food delivered through Deliveroo but no supermarket seems to accept a U.S. based credit card for online ordering.

Posted by
70 posts

Hi Frank:
I used a U.S. credit card to order online from Waitrose.

Posted by
10073 posts

They must have recently changed their policy as I wrote to them a couple of weeks ago and they said they would not accept a U.S. credit card.

Posted by
1182 posts

Just to clarify a point regard N95 masks. I believe that the US airlines have banned the use of N95 style masks that have a vent. The vent allows unfiltered air to be exhaled by the person wearing it. This potentially allows others to be exposed. Unvented N95 masks are permitted.

Posted by
1458 posts

Just watched a video about PIA...they were banned from flying into the US and W. Europe for a while because some of their pilots had no licences!!

Posted by
26089 posts

Hope, did you go?

How was it (is it)?

If you haven't gone yet -
You should know that the entire country is now inches from a full lockdown - massive spikes all week, meetings of people limited to 6 - inside OR outside - massive fines.

The UK is not in a good place at the minute.

I'm confused about the new granddaughter - want to meet her before school starts. Schools went back last week in most communities, but if your granddaughter is a newborn you will have several years before she starts school? Or do I misunderstand?

The way we are going you may find that after you self isolate at your daughter's (she will have to too) you won't be able to see your granddaughter because bubbles can't be extended at the moment.

It could all change tomorrow, but it could change either way.

Posted by
27 posts

Nigel...haven't gone yet. But I am reading UK news re: virus as it develops.

Re: granddaughter and school. It was a bit of American sarcasm...sorry if it was confusing. She's not in school yet at 4 months. ;-)

I won't be going anywhere but DD's home or their back garden as far as I know. They have groceries and food delivered and are sticking to home unless they have a doctor's appointment. Mostly, I'm going to meet baby and give them some help, which has been nonexistent since the birth...both parents are exhausted.

Posted by
258 posts

I would be nervous BUT I would go! If your daughter wants you there you are a lucky grandma!! Safe travels!!!

Posted by
27 posts

A quick update. I flew to the UK on a mostly empty Delta flight on Sept. 19/20. I filled out the required government entry form online but no one ever asked me about it at UK customs. Took a private car to their home in Southampton and stayed there until flying home yesterday. We spent the bulk of our time at home except for walks in the neighborhood and the Common. I also walked to the grocery store a few times for supplies. The grocery was counting customers entering and leaving and required a queue when capacity was reached. Everyone entering was required to be masked.

Yesterday, I flew back on a Delta flight with even fewer passengers (probably no more than 25 customers on board). Again, it felt very safe - all foods were sealed when served, they gave everyone a Purell hand wipe upon boarding, and the restrooms on board were as clean as I've ever seen them. (Of course it helps that very few people are using them.)

The domestic link from Boston to Detroit was actually quite full except for middle seats, which is the reason I chose Delta. I'm not sure I would fly a lot domestically right now, but overall, the trip to the UK was doable and very satisfying to this new grandmother. Cheers!

Posted by
7728 posts

Bravo Hope. So happy you went. Your timing worked well because now I think we'll all be riding out the next few months in more isolation. We're all dealing with FaceTime grandparenting. It will be so wonderful when we can hug those children again.

We flew over, too, on Delta and Air France, and found the planes fine, between masking, shields, distancing, and hand gel.

Posted by
449 posts

A news/latest research story yesterday said that, given the rapid fresh air intake in airplane ventilation systems, the air quality inflight is actually the best you can presently experience in any large indoor space. Safer than your supermarket et al. 'Course, the airports might be a different story.

Posted by
27 posts

Yes, Bets. I agree that was my window. I think we're all in for a stretch of isolation again. I have many pics and videos and FaceTime is a godsend.

Posted by
27 posts

@Stewart&Vicki...yes, I read that, too. It was somewhat reassuring. The domestic gates in the US were fairly busy but everyone was masked and most people were respectful of distancing. It's as good as it gets for now...

Posted by
627 posts

Hope,

I am always glad to see a follow-up post. So glad it all worked out for you. I am heading to Cambridge (hopefully) at the end of May 2021 to visit my family. Your experience makes me very optimistic. I am not looking to visit any other places besides my sister's home. I am also flying Delta on a connection but on Virgin from ATL. (I booked through Delta using points).

Margaret

Posted by
27 posts

Hi Margaret,

I hope your visit works out! We might even have a vaccine by then if all goes well. Have to have hope! :-)

Also, re: your comments on N95 masks. I ended up wearing a layered cloth mask and a face shield, and I have new respect for those who have to wear a mask all day at work. It's quite challenging when huffing and puffing through airports all day (I did carry on and walked some long corridors). But I was really heartened to see everyone wearing masks during my travels.

Good luck!