The Travel Column with Katie Butler, Total Travel

Finally we hear that the US has confirmed it will re-open its borders to fully-vaccinated passengers from November 8.

Sunday, 24th October 2021, 2:30 pm
US TO OPEN borders: John F Kennedy Airport, New York. Photo: Getty Images

The move follows a 19-month shutdown, during which all non-essential travel to the US was banned.

The decision is great news for holidaymakers, business travellers and those separated from family and friends.

It also sends a strong message that long haul travel is starting to open for business and should help to boost even further confidence in travel.

Although this has been announced we are still waiting for further clarity on entry requirements and if a negative test prior to travel will be needed.

In addition and as previously announced by the UK Government, the requirement for double-vaccinated passengers to have a negative PCR test when returning back to England will be no more from October 24.

Instead the PCR test will be replaced with a cheaper lateral flow test and these will be bookable through approved testing companies on the Government website from October 22.

We expect the cost to be approximately £20-£25pp.

Those that have already purchased a PCR test will not need to buy another test as the PCR will still be accepted.

Lateral flow tests for overseas travel must be purchased from a private provider as listed on the Government website as NHS Test and Trace will not be valid for use.

Passengers will need to take a photo of their lateral flow test and booking reference supplied by the private provider and send it back to them to verify the result or alternatively some airports will have test centres and passengers will be able to book and take a test on arrival into England.

This will apply to double-vaccinated passengers and accompanying children under 18 who are travelling with double-vaccinated adults.

What are the requirements on returning to England if I am not double-vaccinated?

If you are not vaccinated, the requirements to return back to England are much more complex, and the same applies coming from all destinations other than red list countries (where hotel quarantine is required regardless of vaccine status). To return from what is now called “rest of the world”, if you are unvaccinated you will be required to test before you come home and test on day two and day eight. You will also be required to isolate for ten days.

I am still unsure about travelling this year but have a holiday booked, can I change to next year?

Changes are still permitted with some suppliers and airlines. However, as we see overseas travel becoming easier, it is likely that terms and conditions will become less flexible and so we advise you to check with your travel provider with regard to flexibility on date changes.

We are still seeing a huge demand for new bookings with fewer changes and cancellations from our trade partners, with some airlines even adding extra capacity for popular routes such as the Canaries, Turkey and Cyprus for the winter months. However, proof of vaccine, negative tests and passenger locater forms are still with us and looks like it will be “the new norm” for some time to come.

■ If you have a specific travel question you would like Katie to answer in her column, please email: [email protected]