Travel Miscellany

Flying from the UK to Spain (and again) through the pandemic – getting by way of the purple tape

I lately flew from Manchester to Malaga in an effort to go to the luxurious resort of Sotogrande and, on condition that many individuals are travelling abroad once more for the primary time in a very long time, I assumed it is perhaps useful to doc my expertise of all of the ‘purple tape’ in case it helps others who’re making an analogous journey.

What did I want?

Spain was on the UK‘s amber record of nations which meant I wanted:

– to have proof that I used to be double-jabbed (or to have had a unfavorable PCR check with 72 hours of journey)
– to have accomplished the SpainTravelHealth (SptH) kind at
– to have a D2 check on my return (and have ordered this previous to leaving the UK)

Word that from the 4th October, the UK’s amber record is being scrapped in favour of only a purple and inexperienced record, so double-check on the official web sites on your exact necessities if you come to journey. Additionally observe that precise necessities could also be completely different for Spanish islands and/or for entry through Gibraltar, so simply be conscious of that.

Making ready for journey

In concept, getting ready for my journey ought to have been comparatively easy. Sadly, that wasn’t fairly the case.

Weeks earlier than I travelled, I downloaded the NHS app (completely different to the NHS’ Observe and Hint app) to examine my COVID standing. It clearly confirmed that I used to be double-jabbed and fortunately – as you’ll learn later – I had the foresight to obtain the proof of each my vaccinations.

As my departure drew nearer, I used the Ryanair app to do on-line check-in and visited the SpTH web site to finish the required well being kind (which must be accomplished inside 24 hours of journey).

Unfortuantely, the Ryanair app wasn’t working. I might see my reserving however, once I went to click on on ‘check-in’, I saved getting the message “Ooops, error! Oh pricey: An error has occurred. Have one other go.”

I attempted visiting the Ryanair web site and it stated it was down for upkeep. I attempted telephoning Ryanair however that obtained me nowhere. I messaged @askryanair on Twitter and obtained no response however, seeing different individuals’s messages to the identical deal with, might see that I used to be not alone in experiencing difficulties.

Since I couldn’t but examine in, I assumed I would as nicely fill out the SpTH. Solely I couldn’t do this as a result of, one of many issues I wanted for the completion of that kind, was my seat quantity. It wouldn’t let me full the shape with out this, however I wasn’t in a position to get hold of it with Ryanair’s app and web site not working. I suppose I couldn’t have simply entered my seat as ‘1A’ however didn’t need to get into hassle for offering incorrect data.

Oh nicely, I assumed… I’ll double-check my COVID standing remains to be so as. I went on to the app and noticed that it had had a slight re-design. I clicked on ‘Get your COVID go’ after which ‘Journey’ and it stated “No COVID-19 information discovered”. I did some Googling and feared that my double vaccination standing had been eliminated as a result of I had lately caught COVID. Though I had accomplished my 10 days of isolation and was free to journey, my jabs weren’t displaying. I referred to as 119 and was immediaetly requested “Have you ever had COVID lately?” to which I answered “sure”. And I used to be advised I’d have to attend 5 days for my COVID standing to be despatched within the put up. That was no good – I used to be resulting from journey in lower than 48 hours! I defined that I had beforehand downloaded a duplicate of my COVID standing and requested if I might use that. She checked the expiry date of that standing with me, and stated I’d be high quality to make use of this. Phew – no less than that was one factor that was sorted.

Ordering the D2 check was pretty problem-free however does want doing earlier than you allow. I ordered mine from Randox Well being for £48 however there are numerous different suppliers on the market. Simply examine that they’re on the federal government’s record of really useful suppliers.

Fortunately, the Ryanair app got here again to life and I used to be in a position to examine in. I did this for my return flight additionally, simply in case the app ought to go down once more. This then allowed me to finish the SpTH kind. I had issues with this on the web site for some unknown motive, however was in a position to full it from my telephone. All in all, the expertise was somewhat extra disturbing than I believe it ought to have been however I obtained there ultimately.

Prime tip: in case you can – and this received’t at all times be potential for everybody – get all of your paperwork collectively as quickly as you possibly can. When you want a COVID standing mailed to you, and also you don’t have 5 days to spare, you possibly can be in bother. Personally, though I hate the concept of printing the whole lot off, I’d suggest it – notably in the mean time – in case apps should not working, your telephone runs out of battery, or no matter.

The day of my outward journey to Spain

For what it’s value, Ryanair by no means checked out my paperwork previous to boarding. They simply wrote “DOCS OK” with somebody’s initials on my boarding go, and requested if I had accomplished the SpTH kind (I stated ‘sure’), however didn’t really take a look at my COVID standing. (This was completely different to somebody I spoke to in Departures who was travelling wih Ryanair to Rome – he had his COVID standing checked by the check-in employees – so there gave the impression to be some inconsistencies there.)

The outward journey was seamless and stress-free. For essentially the most half, there was good observance of masks sporting at each airports (Manchester and Malaga), with the odd exception (however you by no means may be certain if that’s for medical causes).

On arrival in Spain, my paperwork was checked extra carefully. After passing by way of passport management, these arriving have been requested to get the SpTH QR code prepared earlier than becoming a member of the queue to undergo. This was checked, and I used to be requested for proof of my COVID standing which I used to be in a position to current in printed kind. Workers have been armed with brow temperature detectors however these weren’t getting used on everybody (and weren’t used on me), maybe solely being utilized by these displaying a barely higher-than-normal temperature on infra-read cameras, I’m undecided.


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As quickly as I had handed by way of, I used to be despatched a textual content message that learn:

COVID-19 data phone variety of your Autonomous Group of vacation spot, Andalucia : 900400061 / 955545060. Well being emergencies: 112.

I additionally acquired an e-mail that learn:

Welcome to Spain,

If throughout your keep in our nation you’ve signs suitable with COVID-19 (fever, cough or shortness of breath), keep in your lodging / place of residence and phone the well being companies of the autonomous group that you’ve indicated within the well being management kind, in accordance with your given tackle of residence in Spain:

Andalucía, telephone: 900400061 / 955545060


The day of my return journey to the UK

For my return journey, I needed to fill out a Passenger Locator Kind (PLF) on the federal government web site which was easy however for which you should most likely put aside 10 minutes to finish.

I additionally wanted to have a unfavorable antigen (lateral move) check in an effort to journey. I opted to do that at Malaga Airport. Sadly, this proved to be not so easy. The queue to get this check was not so unhealthy, however getting the end result proved – for me, no less than – to be quite disturbing and problematic.

I stuffed out a kind, and my particulars have been placed on to their laptop system. I used to be proven the display screen to make sure that that they had the right e-mail tackle for me (which they did). I went into one other room to have the check – a swab of 1 nostril solely (no swab of the tonsils) – and was advised I’d obtain the outcomes by e-mail in 20 minutes. I then proceeded to examine in on the Ryanair gate, however my lateral move check end result didn’t come by way of on my telephone. I waited for much longer than 20 minutes, however nonetheless nothing. Ultimately, the lady on the desk allowed me to examine my baggage in and scanned my passport and boarding go, in order that I might proceed by way of safety (I believe assuming that there was only a slight delay and by the point I used to be resulting from board, the check end result would have positively come by way of). So on I continued.. passport management was no drawback and I joined the queue to board, roughly 40 minutes earlier than my flight was resulting from depart (and by now most likely an hour after my check).

However nonetheless nothing. I began to fret somewhat. The boarding gate was opened and, certain sufficient, I used to be advised that I couldn’t get on the aircraft till the check end result had come although. I checked my emails – nonetheless nothing. I checked my spam – nothing. I telephoned the quantity on the piece of paper I used to be given by the check centre however simply obtained a recorded message saying ‘the quantity had not been assigned’. I scanned the QR code on the identical paperwork, entered my passport quantity and check reference code, and obtained a message that appeared to counsel this auto-generated an e-mail to me with my check end result. However once I checked out my emails – nonetheless nothing.

At this level, with most passengers having now boarded, panic was beginning to set in. I requested the boarding gate employees what occurs if the end result isn’t despatched they usually stated that by no means would I have the ability to board (no shock there). They stated that they had by no means encountered something like this earlier than. I felt helpless – I couldn’t seemingly converse to anybody on the testing centre.

One of many girls on the gate tried to assist me – she too was unable to name them and tried coming into the small print into her telephone. Then, abruptly, she stated “Is that this your check end result?” and confirmed her iPhone display screen with my particulars on it which she allowed me to {photograph}. She had entered the small print and it had downloaded a file to her telephone. I’ve lately switched to Android and later discovered my check below ‘Recordsdata’ on my telephone (quite than ship an e-mail, it had dropped a file there once I entered my particulars through their QR code however I’d prefer to suppose I’m comparatively IT literate and but it hadn’t made this apparent in any respect). So, with 5-10 minutes to spare, I had the lacking piece to my quite panicked jigsaw… my passport, my boarding go, my PLF and now, fortunately, my unfavorable COVID check. Phew!!!

To at the present time, I nonetheless by no means acquired the COVID check outcomes by e-mail because the airport testing centre promised.

The D2 check afer my return

I did the required D2 check and returned it through a specialist Randox Well being postbox on the southbound aspect of Killington service station on the M6 motorway. Simply two days later, I used to be getting calls from NHS Check & Hint, telling me that I had examined constructive and wanted to self-isolate.

I defined that I had simply accomplished a unfavorable check previous to my return from Spain and that I had examined constructive a number of weeks beforehand. I used to be suggested to name the NHS COVID helpline on 119 and ultimately knowledgeable that I’d have immunity for 28 days from the time of my first signs however that I might proceed to check constructive for something as much as 90 days. Based mostly on this data, and the truth that I had no new signs, I used to be suggested that I didn’t must self-isolate however that I would want to contact the British Embassy in London in an effort to get this newest ‘constructive’ check cleared from my file. They despatched me a textual content with a quantity to name. It wasn’t till after I hung up that it occurred to me there isn’t a British Embassy in London – embassies are typically situated in capital cities of different international locations. The quantity I had been given was, actually, for the International, Commonwealth & Growth Workplace. On the third time of calling them (I obtained reduce off twice), I used to be advised that they weren’t the individuals to talk to and that I ought to contact the Dwelling Workplace’s devoted COVID line. I did this on the day NHS Check & Hint contacted me (a Saturday) however acquired a recorded message that advised me the limes have been closed till Monday.

I continued to obtain repeated calls from Check & Hint over the weekend. I defined my state of affairs they usually stated that they might make a remark to attempt to take away it from my information. I referred to as the Dwelling Workplace line on the Monday and, after greater than 20 minutes listening to muzak, was advised that they couldn’t assist and to name 119, sending me in an entire loop again to the place I’d began!

I referred to as 119 once more and, after one other 20 minutes, was suggested to e-mail [email protected] to get my COVID go / exemption from isolation. I acquired a response the following day, affected by grammatical errors so not instilling me with enormous confidence, that basically stated I had been given misinformation by the NHS and that I might have one other pressure of the virus. I used to be requested to offer the quantity I referred to as from when calling 119, the date and time I referred to as, and the identify of the decision handler I spoke to. I supplied the data (aside from the decision handler identify which I didn’t know) and requested that they ship me a recording of the decision, to cowl my again since fines for not complying with the foundations can differ between £1,000 and £10,000. They by no means replied.


Now that I’ve resumed travelling internationally, and regardless of all the issues I encountered, I’d really feel extra assured about going by way of the method once more, particularly now that guidelines are being relaxed barely. That stated, points can come up so it’s greatest to be as ready as you possibly can, as early as you possibly can, to keep away from potential pitfalls.