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

How to travel safely in airports and on aircraft during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

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

Published: 02 December 2021
By Chris Haycock



COVID-19 testing and quarantine

Because of COVID-19 there are rules that you need to follow when you travel abroad and return to the UK.

Find out what to do if you’re:

  • travelling abroad from England
  • travelling to or from Scotland
  • travelling to or from Wales
  • travelling to or from Northern Ireland
NHS COVID Pass - show your COVID-19 vaccination status

An NHS COVID Pass shows your coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination details or test results. This is your COVID-19 vaccination status.

You can use the NHS COVID Pass to prove your vaccination status when you enter another country while travelling abroad.

Find out:

  • about using the NHS COVID Pass to demonstrate your vaccination status
  • if the countries or territories you are travelling to accept proof of COVID-19 vaccination status as part of their entry requirements
  • how to prove your COVID-19 vaccination status if you are a resident of Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales
Before booking a flight

Before you book an international flight, you should:

  • check government travel advice for the latest information on COVID-19 entry requirements and travel warnings for the country you are travelling to
  • check what you will need to do if you will be returning to the UK
  • speak to your travel insurer

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.

NHS test and trace

You must not travel if you have been advised that you must self-isolate by the NHS test and trace service:

  • test and trace in England
  • test and trace in Northern Ireland
  • test and protect in Scotland
  • test and trace in Wales

You should not travel if you:

  • are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or have in the last 7 days, even if your symptoms are mild
  • are self-isolating as a result of COVID-19 symptoms
  • are sharing a household with somebody who has experienced COVID-19 symptoms in the past 10 days
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.

Make sure any luggage you intend to check 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 and medicines), or other prohibited items.

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

Arriving at the airport

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.

In England, it is a legal requirement to wear face coverings at airports. Some people, including children under 11, are exempt from having to wear face coverings. Anyone with a health condition or disability, which means they cannot wear a face covering, has a reasonable excuse for not wearing a face covering.

Read more about:

  • face coverings in Northern Ireland
  • face coverings in Scotland
  • face coverings in Wales

Customers should follow the rules and guidance set by transport operators during all stages of their journey.

Follow the guidance on:

  • how to stay safe in England
  • how to stay safe in Northern?Ireland??
  • how to stay safe in?Scotland??
  • how to stay safe in Wales?
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

Where possible, avoid walking around the airport and mixing with people you do not normally meet.

In shops at the airport, where possible, pay by contactless card.

On board the aircraft

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

In England it is recommended and expected that passengers wear face coverings onboard aircraft.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland passengers must wear a face covering onboard aircraft.

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
On arrival in the UK

What coronavirus (COVID-19) testing and quarantine rules you need to follow depends on your vaccination status and where you have been in the 10 days before you arrive. Find out what to do if you’re:

  • travelling to England
  • travelling to Scotland
  • travelling to Wales
  • travelling to Northern Ireland
Transiting through England

There are different rules for


Highways England news licensed and reproduced under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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