Monday October 25, 2021
I traveled back to the USA yesterday, Sunday. It was a long trip. There are a few new wrinkles to international travel and where the creases are depends upon which country one is leaving from and transiting through.
No matter which country in Europe anyway a US citizen leaves from, one must get an antigen (or PCR, but they are more expensive and the results take longer to receive) test within three days of travel. I traveled on the 24th, so needed to get a test on the 21, 22, 23 of October, or I suppose could have taken one on the 24th if I wasn’t leaving so early. I had a binax home test which is video proctored. I took it on the 22nd and obviously tested negative since I am back. I got both a QR code and a letter (PDF) with the date of the test and the result. Nothing had to be printed out.
To transit via London I also had to fill out a record locator form online and received a pdf of the completed form.
For British Airways, I needed to download the “Verifly” app, and upload the letter (the QR code, which worked for United in July didn’t work for American/BA but the letter did work) and the completed locator form. I also had to enter my passport and flight details and vaccination details. Shortly after that I received a green check from Verifly that all my documents were in order. For anyone without a smart phone, I think showing the negative test result letter, the printed locator form (this can also be filled out before check in at the airport, BA anyway handed out a lot of these) and your vaccination card. Verifly was easier though. I never had to show anyone my vaccination card on the return flight. But I did have to show a copy of my negative test result at check-in in Barcelona.
I had a 7am flight. I arrived nearly three hours in advance as was recommended. I breezed through check-in (because I had my locator form filled out) and was the first one checked in. To get into security, I scanned my boarding pass. The line for security wasn’t very long. In Spain I had to take off my jacket and take out my camera, iPad and computer, and my smart watch (but not my shoes…that is just a USA security thing). Everything was closed so I went through customs (Great Britain is no longer part of the EU) and found a table at a closed Burger King and wrote my blog yesterday.
We landed on time in London, into Terminal 5 which was the one we departed from for the USA. I had a five hour layover, so wandered around for a while doing a little shopping and window shopping (the same high end stores are in Terminal 5 as were in Barcelona…Gucci, Prada, Hermès etc…but were pretty empty. Harrods’ Christmas shop though had some browsers. In Europe the gate is not announced till 60-75 minutes before takeoff. Once it was announced we’d be taking off for “B” gates I headed out which entailed taking a train within the airport. 75 minutes before takeoff the gate was announced. I only had to show my passport, Verifly green check and boarding card.
On landing in San Diego, the process was quick because I have Global Entry…while waiting for luggage I completed my Customs form at the kiosk, by which time my luggage was out. I cleared the Global Entry line, which wasn’t long. All luggage then had to be x-rayed and that was it. It took less time than collecting luggage did from a domestic flight.
In summary, on BA/American returning from or transiting via London:
- Download Verifly App
- Get antigen test within 3 days of return (1 day for unvaccinated Americans I believe)
- Fill out locator form online
- Upload negative test result letter, locator form to Verifly app
- Fill out passport, vaccination info etc into Verifly app as requested
And that’s a wrap on international travel for 2021. It is not much more difficult than usual and it’s worth the effort!