What The Current Travel Experience Looks Like: USA – UK

UPDATE 20 AUGUST 2021 

As an update to the below post, the testing landscape has improved. Currently eMed is offering remote, supervised antigen testing which can be used for both travel to the United Kingdom and when returning to the United States. 

Order the test online and set up an account at eMed and also Abbott Labs (their NAVICA App). 

Note – the NAVICA App which is needed for return testing, must be downloaded BEFORE departing USA and creating an account. Download for Apple here or for Android here. 

Package ships overnight for $17 supplement. The package contains 6 test kits which can be shared with 2 others. Alternatively, Optum offers a package with 3 tests of the same product, and the testing is done by the same company, eMed. 

On the eMed website, log in and select the start testing option. 

You are served up some questions. If using the test for outbound USA travel, suggest you select “Other” and not International Travel as that question is intended for travel inbound to the USA as a positive answer introduces new questions as if you are outside the USA taking the test. Watch the brief video below for a 30 second explanation.

Best to be in a quiet area with your camera set so that you can open and keep package contents in front of the camera with you also visible. You will then be slotted into a video call process and the proctor shall walk you through the process. 

Once the test is completed, you need to leave the test in view of the camera for 15 minutes after which time another proctor shall review the results and push through to your phone and online account the needed Fit to Fly Certificate, which you then can either print and show the airline or upload to Verifly (if flying British Airways or American).

9 AUGUST 2021 – ORIGINAL POST

I decided mid-morning on July 31 that I would travel back to Scotland at short notice.  The below is a summary of my experience;

  1. Reservation made with British Airways for August 2, flying JFK-LHR-GLA
  2. Reservation made online with CVS for PCR test the same afternoon – antigen test also acceptable
  3. Downloaded Verifly App and created an account




  4. Uploaded an image of my CDC vaccination card to Verifly App for approval
  5. CDC vaccination card was approved 15 minutes after submission
  6. Booked the international arrival Covid testing package
    • You need to do in the correct sequence as UK arrival test order ID is different than the Reference Code that you will receive by email




  7. Enter your flight information for your arriving flight into Scotland (although it says UK as otherwise, it is slightly disjointed). Please note, if you are traveling on a codeshare flight, e.g. you have a British Airways ticket but the flight is operated by American Airlines, you enter the AA flight number and the BA locator number.
  8. It is needed for the Passenger Locator Form

  9. Passenger Locator Form needs to be submitted within 48 hours of arrival in the UK.
  10. The form is fairly straightforward but you need to pay attention: it would be helpful to have your arrival flight details, including seat assignment and first hotel address when you start.
    • Eventually, that generates an email to you with your Travel Authorization (with QR code).
  11. The Verifly App is very helpful in making sure you have all the required details in place. I scanned the QR code for the Travel Authorization Form and manually entered the arrival test confirmation code.
  12. Received CVS test result in approximately 24 hours and then uploaded the .pdf of the negative result to the Verifly App that confirmed all paperwork was in order to travel.
  13. Off to airport with the following: printed Passenger Locator Form, CDC Card and Passport.
  14. You will likely receive emails from Scottish Health Department advising of requirements to test – but by this point you will have already booked those arrangements.
  15. Airport check-in with BA was normal except showing the Verifly App, which eliminated any additional paperwork.
  16. LHR immigration was easy. E Gates were closed and as an early passenger connecting to Scotland, there was no line for the single immigration officer who did not request to see any paperwork – only asked if I had a printed copy of the passenger locator form.
  17. On the morning of my arrival, Royal Mail delivered the Covid testing package for Day 2 with clear instructions how to use and return.

Takeaway. The Verifly App is terrific for ensuring you have all in order to fly and so you do not discover a shortcoming at the airport that denies boarding. The airlines are tasked with only presenting qualified travelers to UK immigration.

The ease of UK immigration will obviously depend on volume, but I would expect any challenges to get ironed out as passenger volumes increase. For example there was an option to register online when taking the arrival Covid testing package on Day 2, however the associated questions were targeted for UK Citizens who would be returning home. I realized it was best for me not to register, and simply take the test and put in in the mail.

For returning to the USA, again I suggest using Verifly (or a similar app) to help you through the process. You will need to book an approved Covid test – PCR or Antigen (Antigen took 15 minutes). Importantly, you need a commercial test with a certificate (an NHS test does not include the needed information for US immigration). 5 minutes after uploading my Antigen test results, it was approved and the Verifly App showed ready for travel. Check-in process was again very simple. Show the Verifly App to the agent and you are done. US immigration only showed their usual interest in your passport.

You may also find additional useful first-hand experience written by One Mile at a Time.

About the Author: Gordon Dalgleish is the Co-Founding Director of PerryGolf, the leading provider of international golf vacations. View on LinkedIn.