What South Africans need to know about UK travel: Flight costs, Covid tests and more

By Clinton Moodley Time of article published Oct 22, 2021

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The UK is one of the most popular destinations for local travellers, with travel demand from South Africa to this European destination at an all-time high.

The demand started when the UK removed South Africa and 46 other countries from its red list on October 11.

According to Flight Centre travel group’s managing director Andrew Stark, the UK is now one of the most booked international destinations for South Africans.

Sue Garrett, general manager of supply, pricing and marketing at Flight Centre, said the majority of air tickets booked have been for departure in November and December this year.

Travel expert Altus Stenekamp said travellers need to apply for a tourist visa 20-25 working days before their trip. TLScontact handles the visa application process and it costs about R2 850.

In terms of testing for Covid-19, the UK government will trade PCR tests for lateral flow tests for vaccinated international travellers from October 24.

Gov.UK published that fully vaccinated travellers arriving in England from non-red list countries need to take the lateral flow test on or before the second day of their arrival. This is a cheaper alternative to PCR tests and it also offers faster results.

Gov.UK said that lateral flow tests for international travel need to be purchased from a private provider.

“NHS Test and Trace tests cannot be used for international travel,” it revealed.

Stenekamp recommends travellers also check with their airline as some may require PCR tests or have other Covid-19 requirements.

The unvaccinated, however, will need to produce a negative PCR Covid Test 72 hours before departure, a negative test on day 2 of arrival and self-isolate at a UK destination for 10 days.

Stenekamp said flight costs from South Africa to the UK varied.

“One stop return flights are starting at R 8 500 per person. Direct, non-stop flights start from R 10 000 per person,” he said.

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