Flying to the UK during COVID

Written by Atiyah Mukhi

The beginning of September for university students both new and old is an exciting time as it marks the start of new academic year (which may mean going back to Leeds or being lucky enough to start off at the university as a new student who is yet to face the ‘exciting life of a uni student’ ), this year should be no different, it can still be as exciting with a few small tweaks to what we can and cannot do.

For all those students wondering how to travel to the UK either for the first time or for those returning to the UK in time for the new academic year, this blogpost will cover the basic points that you need to take note off before and during your journey, making your travel a little less stressful and a lot more enjoyable (You’ll be able to begin stressing in peace once uni begins- so I’d suggest taking it as easy as you can for now).

The university has a designated page to help answer all your questions regarding COVID-19 in relation to your safety and wellbeing upon arrival, immigration and border control and your accommodation. I would strongly recommend checking this page out prior to your travel as has the answers to all the questions you could possibly think off and trust me I do mean all of them.

Due to the ongoing situation, governments across the globe have been closely monitoring the situation and several countries are now permitting travel with strict guidelines on sanitation and social distancing. When travelling to the UK there are a number of sources that are extremely useful to look at beforehand. A key one includes this official UK government’s website; this contains travel advice that corresponds with the country you are travelling from.

In addition to this, it is a requirement that all those travelling to the UK provide details regarding where they will be isolating for the period of fourteen days. This can be done 48 hours before your flight through this following link.



Another useful source will be the information provided to you by the airline you choose to travel with, below is the link I was sent before my scheduled departure that I found extremely useful, it gave key advice on how to keep your journey as contact free as possible alongside information on how to keep in line with safety measures that have been put in place to so that you repel the virus and keep it as far away from yourself as you can. I for one did not know that when using disposable masks, it is important to replace them after every four hours and I would have rocked up with only one to last me the ENTIRE journey (which when I now think about doesn’t make much sense). So, make sure you read the emails they send you beforehand and take note of any key information – as this may be useful later during your journey. This is the link that British Airways sent me before my flight. 

When travelling back to university, I try and pick a flight to Manchester airport as this only an hour’s train journey away from Leeds (I discovered this after I made my dad drive me to Leeds from Gatwick airport for what felt like days on end – in case any of you were wondering). If you can, you may even find it easier to book a flight to the Leeds Bradford Airport, which is simply a bus or taxi journey away from Leeds itself. Whilst the Manchester Airport has opened, you may find that due to the limited number of flights being operated, it may be easier to travel to Heathrow. I would suggest downloading the ‘Trainline’ App, which you can then use to search for trains and buses to Leeds (and it also has live updates!)

As several airlines aren’t operating at their full capacity, you may find that you have no one sat beside you during your flight. I was lucky enough to get all three seats next to the window to myself and used it as the perfect opportunity to stretch out my legs and get as comfortable as possible



Upon arrival, I found that several measures had been put in place to ensure that social distancing was maintained at almost all times, with this there were several posters and signs explaining what to do should you find that you are experiencing symptoms after your arrival in the UK. It couldn’t have been simpler, the total time from when I landed to when I left the airport was approximately 70 minutes (that includes leaving the aircraft, going through immigration and collecting your luggage!). Should you pay heed to my advice and fill out the form providing your journey and contact details 48 hours before your flight, you will be saved a considerable amount of time and may find that you can leave the airport and take off that mask sooner than you think.

Finally, to make your journey as smooth as possible, I would recommend writing out a simple checklist to ensure that you have done all that you need and have packed the most important documents alongside your hand sanitiser, wet wipes and face masks. So, don’t forget to sit back, relax and enjoy your flight with you mask on of course and let’s not forget to sanitise our hands too, oh and clean down the surfaces with your anti-bacterial wet wipes that you should be carrying with you at all times.

Author

Atiyah Mukhi
Hello!! My name is Atiyah Mukhi and I'm an international student from Nairobi, Kenya. I completed my advanced level secondary education in Kenya before coming to Leeds to pursue my undergraduate degree....
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