UK airports are some of the busiest in the world. They operate as major transport hubs within Western Europe to destinations as far away as East Asia, Australia and the Americas.
Around 300,000 international travellers fly to and from UK airports every day. Naturally, with such a high volume of passengers safety is crucial.
This article explains more about the safety procedures that tourists and visitors might expect to see when arriving or departing from a UK airport. It covers the security measures that are in place across British airports, the current COVID-19 safety accommodations and also what passengers making international flight transfers should be prepared for.
COVID-19 measures in UK airports
Passengers arriving or departing from UK airports should be prepared for possible disruptions that could occur due to COVID-19. This includes the following measures:
- Face masks must be worn at all times by passengers aged 11 and over
- 2 meters distance between individuals should be maintained at all times
- Temperature screenings are in place across many UK airport terminals for arriving and departing passengers
- Travellers arriving in the UK from any country must complete a journey and contact details form less than 48 hours before arrival and present it at the UK Border (some visitors may need to self isolate for 14 days when arriving in the UK)
- Some flights and airline companies may depart from different terminals or gates than normal (passengers will normally be informed of this ahead of their arrival at the airport)
These disruptions don’t affect check-in times and there are no delays at the security or check-in desks due to COVID. Passengers can and should continue to arrive 2-3 hours before their time of departure.
Hand sanitizing stations have also been set up around airport terminals. Travellers are advised to use them wherever possible and to cancel any travel plans ahead of time if they start to develop symptoms.
What COVID-19 safety precautions are airlines carrying out?
In addition to the services on the ground, most airlines are introducing special safety procedures to combat COVID-19. These include the following guidelines:
- Social distancing of up to 2 meters must be followed
- Passengers are encouraged to check into flights online before arriving at the airport
- Face masks must be worn on all flights
- Travellers are encouraged to remain seated for as much of the flight as possible
- Contactless payment should be used instead of cash or CHIP and PIN
- Passengers should avoid touching their face, nose and mouth during the flight
International flight connections at UK airports
Passengers transiting through the UK must ensure that they have the correct travel authorization to do so. This may involve holding an appropriate UK visa or eTA UK.
There are two types of transiting through UK territory:
- Landside: This requires passing through UK border controls and journeying to another destination in the country for onward international travel
- Airside: In this case, passengers do not leave the airport or pass through the UK border; they instead leave the country within 24 hours from the same point of arrival
UK hand luggage restrictions
As with most international travel, UK airports have restrictions in place on what passengers may keep in their hand luggage after passing through airport security. Before flying, travellers should ensure that they pack their bags with these rules in mind.
What can be safely brought through UK airport security?
Many hand luggage items can be brought safely onto aircraft and through UK airport security. Passengers may carry the following in their hand luggage when they pass through the mandatory security checks:
- Personal electronic devices
- Photography equipment
- Personal medicine and medication
- Safety matches
- Sewing and knitting needles
- Small and medium-sized sports equipment such as tennis racquets
What is prohibited from being taken through UK airport security?
For security and safety, some items are restricted at UK airport security. These include the following articles:
- Weapons and firearms
- Liquids, gels and creams over 100ml
- Razor blades
- Sharp objects such as scissors
- Fireworks or flares
- Cigarette lighters
- Walking poles
- Work tools
- Martial art equipment
- Volatile chemicals
What services will passengers be able to access at UK airports?
When arriving at a UK airport, passengers will have many useful services available to them. These are provided so that travellers can enjoy a comfortable and safe journey on their trip and ensure that all their needs are met.
People arriving in British airports will be able to make use of the following amenities:
- Currency exchange and ATMs
- Shopping areas
- Meeting rooms
- Bars and restaurants
- Children’s play areas
- Multi-faith chapels
- Washroom facilities
UK airports make it easier for thousands of people to travel around the world every day. Flying to or from a British airport is usually a comfortable and safe process allowing travellers to simply focus on what they will do on arrival to their destination.