Please sign in to post.

UK trip report, musings, mainly Covid aspects

We just returned yesterday from 14 nights in the UK - Edinburgh, Glasgow, Belfast, and Dublin to fly out.

This began on April 11, with our mandates still in effect. We were shocked while we waited for our connection in Heathrow T5A as to what appeared to be at least 90% of the throng were unmasked. This pattern continued on our several journeys on ScotRail, mostly non-compliance. Yes, Scotland also dropped their indoor and transit masking in the middle of our trip, but when we headed to Belfast it did not seem much better. That included most of the folk on our bus on a Giant's Causeway tour (the Causeway is amazing, BTW) and most of the people in the Titanic Experience. We actually saw more indoor masking in Dublin, though little outdoor anywhere. Needless to say, in spite of being double-boosted (got the second as soon as it was recommended before we left) our masks were on in all indoor settings, save while eating.

Had some major stress regarding the re-entry Covid test, and learned something. We were trying to arrange for the Randox at Dublin T2, as were were staying nearby with shuttle provided. Could not make it go through because the secure system regarding credit cards was in effect since this was being done online, and while our credit cards will bypass this by texting a code to free the card, Luddites that we are we do not use cell phones abroad. Problem. The next morning, while booking a bus ticket to get to Dublin and running into the same issue, I had an inspiration. Tried my Schwab Debit Card (which also requires travel notification, which which had been given), and went through immediately. Went back to the Randox site, and success. Debit cards are not involved in that secure process (at least, not this card). Took the test the next morning (day before our flight), and went into the airport where our iPads could get internet to await the result, so we could take it to American. 20 minutes later my wife's comes in to her email, no sign of mine. We soon realize the internet had gone down. Had to ultimately walk back to Randox, and have them put my ipad on their system and re-send the result to it there, actually nice of them to accomodate me. Further surprised my self and was able to upload this to Verifly, which AA uses, and we were approved and could check-in online and get our passes - significant, because Dublin is having incredible wait time due to staff shortages and such. Last time we flew from Dublin was pre-pandemic, 2016, also AA, and were not allowed to check-in online at all.

I will also note that there seems to be a change in the pre-clearance there. After 20 some minutes to get past the standard entrance security, we went with a huge crowd to pre-clearance. This step took well over an hour, the hold-up being volume. TSA security is now before immigration, and is only an X-ray of your bags (including shoes), but no body scanning/metal detection (thank you, I have 4 metal implants!). I suppose they have realized that you've already been checked. Passport check was just a look at your passport and your photo taken, presumably computer matched at that point. Nothing else.

Flight home, the third seat of our set was occupied by a woman with a bad, constant, wet cough. And no mask. Yes, she passed a Covid test within the past 38 hours, but still very upsetting. Making no effort to cover her mouth, either. Needless to say, our 95's were on the entire way, my wife next her even between mouthfuls at mealtime.

Other notes: Unreal weather. It rained when we arrived in Edinburgh. That was the only precipitation we saw on the trip. We visited the Falkirk Wheel, Stirling Castle, Riverside, Hunterian, Kelvingrove, and Ulster Museums, and not a clunker in the lot. Several great walks on our own.And got to see drunk Rangers fan steal a beer glass from the Celtic pub we were dining in. This trip had been initially planned and booked in fall 2019 for April 2020, and rescheduled 4 times.

Posted by
367 posts

You've confirmed which I've thought for a while -travelling without a cell phone is something else that the pandemic has killed. I now have a 3 options for getting access pretty much anywhere - global SIM, roaming on my domestic SIM, buying a local SIM and options to change the sim in both my phone and mifi device

Posted by
3700 posts

I’ve always been able to receive texts via WIFI. I assume the airport had free WIFI.

Posted by
2490 posts

They did, but it apparently went down just after my wife's email came in. She is gmail. I have noticed an issue with Comcast where sent messages simply get lost when delivery is not possible, such as a test message she sent me during this. Never appeared, to this day.