Abandoning Prison Island

N860CR

Established Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2004
Messages
4,691
Points
840
It’s been 20 long months, but I’m finally sitting at the international terminal again. I thought I’d give a bit of a running update given things are a little different to my last trip in March 2020.

Getting the train to T1 was a quiet affair. Nobody else got off. The terminal is still absolutely deserted. A little pre-checkin station is setup before the JAL desks for document verification. Every sign has UK Border requirements on it so I’d assume the majority of passengers are joining me on the way to London. There’s a UK Border checklist that the staff fill out. Everything is triple checked including scanning my Australian vaccination form.

Proceed then to checkin which is largely normal. Apparently only a handful of people are booked (20 or so) and they’ve spaced business class out quite a lot so I’m moved into the front row. No lounge so I’m given an $18 voucher with the suggestion not to go airside before using it.

Hadn’t been to the T1 foodcourt for a while… it’s totally dead. Two cafes open and all customers seem to be staff.

Immigration and security takes about 5 minutes including a nude-o-scope machine check and explosives swab.

All in all the place is absolutely miserable. Sort of feels like the end of the world 🙁. But I guess it’s early days.
 

N860CR

Established Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2004
Messages
4,691
Points
840
Rather humorously, the duty free shop has decided to appoint themselves as the vaccination Gestapo.

Most of the international terminal is fenced off, but they’ve still managed to funnel everybody through duty free. There’s one small opening in the gate to enter where they are being very officious about QR checking in and then digging out proof of vaccination. I figured if I’d gotten this far without proving my vaccination status…..
 

N860CR

Established Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2004
Messages
4,691
Points
840
Excellent JAL flight. I usually fly ANA to Japan and JL is literally worlds apart. Seat is amazing. Service outstanding. Largely felt pre-covid (except for a few plastic covers).

Held onboard for about 15 minutes in Haneda. Then shuffled off to security. About 10 passengers all traveling to London. Typical Japanese efficiency for the transit. Very glad to be here and not somewhere like Bangkok. Process was quite slow with a heap of document checks (there seemed to be a bit of confusion about Australian passports and vaccination certificates).

Headed up the escalator to a totally empty departures area. I’ve literally seen one other person in half an hour. Security is still closed so no Japanese departure passengers coming through. Lounge opens in 2 hours
 

N860CR

Established Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2004
Messages
4,691
Points
840
Into the first class lounge (j is closed). Staff ratio is approx 1000 staff per 1 passenger. Meals all ordered via a QR code although I’ve had three people hold my hand and do it for me! “Self service” drinks apparently, but there was zero chance of me pouring myself a drink without assistance.

All in all very pleasant.
 

N860CR

Established Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2004
Messages
4,691
Points
840
Just waiting for the rental car shuttle at heathrow now.

777 out of Haneda to London. Again, virtually empty. I went the whole flight without waiting for a toilet or even really seeing another passenger. Service excellent again. JL is definitely one of my favs.

I had a quick dinner and slept until over Helsinki. Crew then serve another dinner which seems odd given the time.

Interesting arrival at heathrow. Held for about 20 mins before approaching. Felt like the captain possibly flared a touch early so the plane floated down the runway a lot. Touched down much longer than usual and felt a quick deceleration before the engines spooled back up and they gave it away.

Bit of stuffing around for 20 mins and we land successfully the second time with the captain giving a very detailed debrief after reaching the gate. Blamed an unexpected tailwind.

With that behind, I got ready for what I was expecting to be a more complex than usual entry into the UK. Cabin crew announce that we’re waiting for approval from customs to disembark. About 15 mins later we shuffle off. Long long walk to the e-gates. No line, walk up and scan myself in. Bag is out and waiting so I grab it and walk to customs with all my magnitude of vaccine forms, locator forms and return ticket printed and ready to go. Walk through the green lane. And that’s it. I do a bit of a double take and look behind me, but there’s not a single person around.

Off the plane and into the UK without speaking to a single person
 

MARTINE

Active Member
Joined
Apr 6, 2018
Messages
902
Points
455
Just waiting for the rental car shuttle at heathrow now.

777 out of Haneda to London. Again, virtually empty. I went the whole flight without waiting for a toilet or even really seeing another passenger. Service excellent again. JL is definitely one of my favs.

I had a quick dinner and slept until over Helsinki. Crew then serve another dinner which seems odd given the time.

Interesting arrival at heathrow. Held for about 20 mins before approaching. Felt like the captain possibly flared a touch early so the plane floated down the runway a lot. Touched down much longer than usual and felt a quick deceleration before the engines spooled back up and they gave it away.

Bit of stuffing around for 20 mins and we land successfully the second time with the captain giving a very detailed debrief after reaching the gate. Blamed an unexpected tailwind.

With that behind, I got ready for what I was expecting to be a more complex than usual entry into the UK. Cabin crew announce that we’re waiting for approval from customs to disembark. About 15 mins later we shuffle off. Long long walk to the e-gates. No line, walk up and scan myself in. Bag is out and waiting so I grab it and walk to customs with all my magnitude of vaccine forms, locator forms and return ticket printed and ready to go. Walk through the green lane. And that’s it. I do a bit of a double take and look behind me, but there’s not a single person around.

Off the plane and into the UK without speaking to a single person
WOW that’s amazing no one to have to show the vax and PCR test. That’s great - rather be over prepared w everything than caught out! Enjoy your trip
 

N860CR

Established Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2004
Messages
4,691
Points
840
WOW that’s amazing no one to have to show the vax and PCR test. That’s great - rather be over prepared w everything than caught out! Enjoy your trip

Just have to hope I avoid picking up the corona! That’ll screw my return plans.
 
Get paid up to 25% in real cash from your everyday purchases from leading companies such as Virgin Australia, Booking.com, Coles, Apple, Microsoft and much more. Free to join and no catches!

AFF Supporters can remove this and all advertisements

Pushka

Veteran Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
Messages
28,329
Solutions
4
Points
3,350
Qantas
Platinum
Virgin
Red
WOW that’s amazing no one to have to show the vax and PCR test. That’s great - rather be over prepared w everything than caught out! Enjoy your trip
No PCR required on entry to UK.

Just have to hope I avoid picking up the corona! That’ll screw my return plans.
That is indeed the risk. Keep safe.
 

N860CR

Established Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2004
Messages
4,691
Points
840
No PCR required on entry to UK.


That is indeed the risk. Keep safe.
Correct. My day 2 test is sitting waiting for me to probe myself with. In all honesty, short of there being a bit of behind the scenes stuff going on, I think I could avoid even doing it.

Just going to try to be practically careful. Booster jab a week ago, I’ll wear masks (which I can already see are largely out the window here) and use a bit of common sense.
 

N860CR

Established Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2004
Messages
4,691
Points
840
To finish it all off, had a nice easy drive to the midlands and I’m now sitting for 15 mins while my covid test does it’s thing. Fairly straight forward process. Up the nose, into some liquid and then pour it into the tester. 7 mins in and it’s showing negative…

And as expected, negative.

Now in the local having my first pint. Walked in with a mask on and I think they thought I was going to rob the place
 
Last edited:

Telemachus

Intern
Joined
Sep 10, 2021
Messages
71
Points
140
Qantas
LT Gold
Virgin
Red
Now in the local having my first pint. Walked in with a mask on and I think they thought I was going to rob the place
Many thanks for your ‘nuts and bolts’ reports from this trip. All familiar stuff, perhaps, for those who have been flying internationally during Covid but of compelling interest to the many of us who, like you, have been grounded since March 2020. It’s reassuring that the additional compliance requirements are not significantly slowing pax processing – so long as you have the full suite of mandatory docs and they’re all in order.

A couple of comments on the apparent absence of UKBF arrival checks which surprised you but is consistent with what other AFF members have reported. Actually the checks have been done pre-flight and all the docs (passport, ICVC, PLF) will have gone electronically to UKBF for clearance before you boarded your first SYD-HND sector. UKBF has also relied on the carrier and ABF sighting of physical/digital credentials. I see this as effectively adding a couple of credentials to the existing Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) which has worked well for years as a pre-flight clearance process for the destination country's border agency. Those docs are all linked to you and the passport you’re using for UK entry so that, at the UK border itself, it’s sufficient to do the e-gate biometric check that it’s you and your passport presenting for entry.

This is all risk-based and the UK border experience may be different depending on eligibility for e-gate use, country of departure etc. There must also surely be a process to verify compliance with the 10 day home isolation and additional testing requirements for arriving unvaccinated pax.

It is very good news that the systems are working so as to avoid the long LHR arrival queues seen some months ago when UK international travel restarted. I suggest it’s departure where delays are now more likely since that is where the heavy lifting on multiple document checks is done. Can’t comment on UK airports but with the light loads you saw on both your sectors it’s too soon to judge how well Australian airports are going to manage.

Hope you enjoyed that pint; and the second one.
 
Last edited:

rcn

Member
Joined
May 6, 2011
Messages
130
Points
225
Qantas
Platinum
Thanks for the trip report.

We're planning a long weekend later this month in London. We are based in Sydney.

The Qantas/Emirates option seems more sensible than Singapore Airlines (due to the PCR added requirement for the Vaccinated Travel Lane via SIN on SQ).

My understanding of the requirements are:

Depart SYD on QF
- proof of vaccination

Entering the UK
- Day 2 test
- passenger locator form
- proof of vaccination

While in the UK
- get PCR test done no later than 72 hrs before flight to Australia

Check in at LHR
- Australian Travel Declaration, Vaccine cert, negative PCR test result

Transit via DXB
- no requirements

Entering SYD
- As per pre-COVID times, straight out from the airport to home.

Will report in the experience at each stop.

Anyone been on QF1 or QF11 yet?

I cant imagine the airport and the Flounge to be too busy.
 

N860CR

Established Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2004
Messages
4,691
Points
840
Thanks for the trip report.

We're planning a long weekend later this month in London. We are based in Sydney.

The Qantas/Emirates option seems more sensible than Singapore Airlines (due to the PCR added requirement for the Vaccinated Travel Lane via SIN on SQ).

My understanding of the requirements are:

Depart SYD on QF
- proof of vaccination

Entering the UK
- Day 2 test
- passenger locator form
- proof of vaccination

While in the UK
- get PCR test done no later than 72 hrs before flight to Australia

Check in at LHR
- Australian Travel Declaration, Vaccine cert, negative PCR test result

Transit via DXB
- no requirements

Entering SYD
- As per pre-COVID times, straight out from the airport to home.

Will report in the experience at each stop.

Anyone been on QF1 or QF11 yet?

I cant imagine the airport and the Flounge to be too busy.

In all honesty, a long weekend is probably your safest bet for returning negative PCR before heading home.

COVID is clearly over here. Went to the theatre last night and it was packed. Not a single mask in sight. People lined up at bars as normal. No QR codes. Exactly as it used to be. The chances of picking up covid (which doesn’t worry me, but very much worries the Australians) seems on the high side.
 
Last edited:

N860CR

Established Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2004
Messages
4,691
Points
840
I'm content with failing the PCR test on the way home. Just don't want to fail the outbound test.

I guess so long as you pick a transit point that doesn’t require PCR testing, then you’re good for the UK.

Not that I’d advocate it…. But the lateral flow test on arrival would not be at all hard to manipulate (or even not do).
 

Enhance your AFF viewing experience!

From just $6 we'll remove all advertisements so that you can enjoy a cleaner and uninterupted viewing experience.

And you'll be supporting us so that we can continue to provide this valuable resource :)


Sample AFF with no advertisements? More..
Top