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!
Congratulations!! Sounds very complicated to me. I really enjoyed your
It really wasn’t. The airline sent notifications and links to everyone, I guess some travelers don’t check email or texts.
Welcome home 🙂 Carolyn, I’m keeping fingers crossed we might have a trip together next year (and that, as a seasoned travel pro, you can help me through the crazy new process) !
I hope we can! Travel is not much different, but constantly changing. Next year crowds will be back…
That whole experience just sounds beyond brutal…….
No, it was quite easy. Just fill out an online form and take a covid test…which I did in my hotel room, it took about 5 minutes of active time (and a 15 minute wait). Verifly makes check in easier but isn’t a requirement to fly.