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Detailed guide: Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer air travel for passengers

Department For Transport

September 14
07:53 2020

COVID-19 travel guidance

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Travel to some countries and territories is currently exempted. This advice is being kept under constant review.

Travel disruption is still possible and national control measures may be brought in with little notice. Check FCDO coronavirus travel guidance.

Travel safely during the coronavirus outbreak

You can help control coronavirus (COVID-19) and travel safely by:

  • avoiding the busiest times and routes
  • keeping your distance when you travel (2 metres apart where possible)
  • washing or sanitising your hands regularly

You should not travel if you:

If anyone in your household or support bubble, where relevant, has symptoms of coronavirus you should self-isolate.

Read more about how to:

Before you fly

Before booking a flight, consider the essential 5-point checklist:

  1. Check FCDO travel advice.
  2. Check the latest health advice for your destination.
  3. Speak to your travel insurer.
  4. Complete the passenger locator form before flying in to the UK.
  5. Never travel if you display coronavirus symptoms.

Understand the public health requirements of your destination country, restrictions on re-entering the UK and read the following guidance:

Where possible, your airline will inform you on measures to minimise transmission of coronavirus.

In line with other medical conditions, airlines have the right to refuse travel to anyone they believe is not fit to fly.

Online check-in

Where possible, check in online to avoid face-to-face contact at the airport.

You are strongly encouraged to check in baggage to the aircraft hold and minimise any hand baggage. This will speed up boarding and disembarking and minimise the risk of transmission.

Please make sure that any luggage which will be checked in does not contain any lithium batteries (in equipment such as laptops, or stand-alone batteries such as powerbanks), valuable or essential items (such as cash, credit cards, keys, medicines), or other prohibited items.

Follow the safer travel guidance during your journey to the airport.

Arriving at the airport

Enter the airport on your own, unless you are flying with members of your household or support bubble, where relevant. Non-passengers should only enter the airport where needed. For example, accompanying or picking up a passenger requiring assistance, such as a disabled person or an unaccompanied child.

You must wear a face covering in enclosed areas of airports in England. You must wear a face covering in all areas of airports in Scotland. In Wales and Northern Ireland, it is recommended that you wear a face covering in airports.

More information on face coverings.

Treat staff and other passengers with respect.

Follow instructions from airport and airline staff, which may include:

  • where to sit
  • how to queue at check-in, security or when boarding the aircraft
  • instructions on screens, barriers or floor markings
  • requests to move to less busy areas

At check-in

Where possible, avoid touching surfaces in the airport. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds after using self-service check-in, luggage trollies and other frequently touched surfaces.

Depending on the airport you fly from and where you are flying to, you may need to have your temperature checked before flying.

At the security checkpoint

Follow advice in the airport to prepare for security checks.

At the departure lounge/ terminal airside area/ arrival areas

Avoid walking around the airport and mixing with people that you do not normally meet.

In shops at the airport, wear a face covering, follow social distancing measures and, where possible, pay by contactless card.

On board the aircraft

The UK has a wide range of aircraft flying to many different international and domestic destinations. Measures to control coronavirus transmission will depend on:

  • the technical features of your aircraft
  • any specific requirements of your destination
  • the individual risk controls identified by your airline

Your airline will advise you on measures in place for your flight.

In England, Scotland and Wales passengers must wear a face covering onboard aircraft. In Northern Ireland it is recommended that passengers wear face coverings onboard aircraft.

You can remove your face covering to:

  • communicate with someone who relies on lip reading
  • avoid harm or injury
  • take medication
  • eat or drink, if reasonably necessary

During the flight, you should:

  • remain seated as much as possible
  • follow instructions and guidance from crew
  • use contactless payment where possible
  • be aware there is likely to be a reduced food and drink service
  • make the cabin crew aware if you become ill

Before travelling to the UK passenger locator form

Before you travel to the UK you must complete a passenger locator form.

This applies to people entering the UK from all countries and territories. It applies to UK residents and visitors.

You can complete it up to 48 hours before you enter the UK.

The form is an online form. You will need an internet connection and details of your journey to complete it.

Make sure you leave yourself enough time to complete it to redu

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