Surging caseloads. Skyrocketing hospitalisations. Thousands of cancelled flights. Shifting travel requirements. Crippling uncertainty. You may read this and think I’m talking about March 2020 or the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic across the world. And I can’t blame you. But unfortunately, I’m talking about right now. With the latest Omicron variant wrecking renewed havoc upon the globe, it can feel like we’ve taken a giant step backwards. While we’re in a supremely better state now than we were when all this started, renewed frustration with the pandemic is entirely understandable.
As an international student who has to fly across the Atlantic Ocean when I want to visit my family, the pandemic has made this process incredibly precarious and laborious. It feels like every time I try to fly back to the United States or come back to London, I have to do something different. In this post, I want to a checklist of sorts so you can keep in mind the things you need to think about before you travel home:
1. Check your home country’s entry requirements
The first thing you need to do before you travel is check what’s required of you before you attempt to go home. Entry requirements are constantly shifting and it can be burdensome to keep on top of all the latest developments, but it’s vital you check so that you don’t show up at an airport and get turned away for not having the right things with you, like proper test results from a qualifying test. Make sure you get tested in the correct timeframe before your flight and have your vaccination status ready. Airlines have been merciless about turning passengers away who don’t have everything in order.
2. Check what your airline is saying about a country’s entry requirements
Unfortunately, there have been huge discrepancies between what a country’s government is saying it requires for travelers entering the country and what the airlines are saying that government is necessitating. For example, I know someone who tried to go to Austria recently and the government’s official advice was different from what the airline was saying it was. Even though official government websites said the requirements were different, the airline was sticking with its interpretation. Obviously that is a nightmare, but it’s crucial to check both the airline and the government advice to see if there are differences. If there are, call the airline for help before your flight. You don’t want to get turned away at the airport for not following the rules.
3. Keep in mind what you need to re-enter the UK
Before you head home, take a look at what you’ll need to come back to England. I say England specifically because as LSE students, these travel rules are what directly apply to us and often times, the requirements between England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland often diverge. It can be a lot to think ahead sometimes, especially during the pandemic, but it’s good to keep in mind what you’ll need so you can schedule any tests you need to take before you come back to London. Obviously travel rules can change, so you’ll want to check them a few times, but give yourself an idea of what’s going on before you travel so you know what to expect.