The British transport secretary Grant Shapps (who somehow survived this week's cabinet reshuffle) has announced that England's quarantine rules, the rules surrounding the COVID tests that passengers are expected to take before embarking on their trip (to England), and the tests passengers are expected to take following their arrival in England, will be changing from next month. It's bad news for the unvaccinated.
I get asked a wide variety of travel-related questions every day but the one question that I'm getting asked more than any other right now surrounds my plans for future international travel. A lot of people seem to be happy to travel domestically but most also seem to be reluctant to travel long-haul and, frankly, it's not hard to see why.
A few months ago, when JetBlue was offering some excellent Business Class fares on its new New York - London routes, I went against a long-term policy of mine and booked a trip through an online travel agency. Specifically, I booked through Amex Travel and while I wouldn't say that my experience has put me off booking with an OTA ever again, it has reminded me why I have a policy of avoiding OTAs whenever possible.
If the headline for this article upsets, annoys or angers you, please don’t bother complaining to me. I’m just the messenger. The sentiment expressed in the headline is based entirely on the signals being sent out by the United States government.
The US administration has a problem. It has been telling everyone who is prepared to listen that its Covid policies are driven "by the science" but it now finds itself in a position where that's patently untrue. There is absolutely nothing scientific about the current ban on travelers arriving from the UK, Ireland, or the Schengen Area but instead of addressing that situation, the administration appears to have decided to stick its head in the sand and do nothing about it.
It's now almost 16 months since the United States first introduced legislation that prevents most travelers originating in the UK, Ireland, or any of the Schengen Area countries from visiting its shores, and just last week we heard that the ban is not going away any time soon. In the past, this ban had some merit but it's now just pointless Covid theatre.
As of Monday, 19 July, most Covid-related rules governing behavior in homes and in public in England have been lifted so that life, such as it is, can get back to some kind of normality. Or at least that's what the public has been told. Unfortunately, because the UK government is led by people who would struggle to run a lemonade stand, life, for a lot of England's residents, is currently far from normal and, sadly, it's only going to get worse.
I try my very best not to fly with low-cost carriers. I have no issue with the fact that they charge you extra for the air onboard, the fact you often have to walk the distance of a marathon course across a searing hot airfield to get to the aircraft or the fact that they frequently land nowhere near the city you thought you were heading for. That’s all part of their business model and I accept that.
The pandemic has brought chaos to a whole variety of things in the travel world and the Global Entry program has not escaped unscathed. Fortunately, over the past 18 months, the US CBP has been reasonably swift to take action to try to alleviate the issues caused by the seemingly ever-increasing backlog of applications, and now, with the backlog not really getting noticeably smaller, it has extended the Global Entry grace period to two full years.
The UK's Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has just addressed Parliament to confirm that fully vaccinated UK citizens/residents arriving into England from "amber list" countries will no longer have to self-isolate upon their return to England. The devolved nations will be reviewing their rules separately and may or may not follow England's lead.