Good Morning Britain’s Jonathan Swain shows viewers what it is like on a British Airways flight from London to Lisbon
As Brits are allowed to fly away for holidays, Good Morning Britain’s Jonathan Swain offered viewers a look inside a British Airways aeroplane with Covid restrictions.
The ITV correspondent boarded a flight from London to Lisbon on Monday, May 17, as lockdown restrictions eased further with many businesses reopening, indoor socialising allowed once again and the foreign travel ban lifted for England and Wales.
However, there are Covid restrictions in place, with separate regulations for people flying in from green, amber and red list countries.
With Portugal on the green list, Brits arriving from the country will not need to quarantine, and will only be required to take one post-arrival coronavirus test.
The cost of coronavirus tests for one person to travel to Portugal is ‘well over £300’
Swain told GMB viewers the cost of tests could be «almost prohibitively expensive» for a family-of-four travelling to Portugal.
He said: «The big thing though I have to say is, to get on board one of these flights, it takes a lot of preparation, a lot of expense beforehand.
«You have to take three Covid tests. One before we flew, that was on Friday. We have to take one when we arrive today. I have to book a video call with a nurse to make sure I’m taking it.
«And then we have one when we land two days afterwards. So that’s three tests in total, costing well over £300 and that’s just for one person.
«Imagine if you were a family-of-four – that suddenly becomes almost prohibitively expensive, I think.»
He added travellers have to complete a passenger locator form for Portugal before checking in, and there are documents that need to be shown to BA before they are allowed to check in.
Jonathan Swain shows viewers the economy section of the BA plane
According to BA, the air on planes is filtered and seats are thoroughly sanitised before people embark on the flight. There are also hand sanitising measures, Swain said.
Sean Doyle, British Airways CEO, said the filtration system, alongside the testing of passengers and mask wearing measures, makes its aeroplanes «one of the safest places you can be».
He explained: «The air quality in an aircraft cabin is similar to an operating theatre. In fact, we replace the air every three minutes. so it’s a very safe environment.»
Showing viewers around the business class section of the aeroplane, Swain said people are sat with at least a one-seat gap.
But in the economy section, passengers were seen sitting shoulder-to-shoulder. Many passengers were seen with their masks on, although they are allowed to take them off when they are eating or if they are exempt.
GMB Presenter Adil Ray admitted «it looks a bit scary» seeing «that many people together» but said: «If they’ve all had tests and like you say, it’s all been sanitised, then it’s about as safe as it can be».
Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged people to proceed with the easing of lockdown «with a heavy dose of caution» as an Indian variant has been identified in the UK.
Mr Johnson said the government is keeping the Indian variant under close observation.
Quizzed about the possibility of long queues at Heathrow Airport, airport CEO John Holland-Kaye said there have been queues of up to six hours in the last few months, although it has been «unusual».
He said those issues were caused by Border Force not having enough officers on the desks with all the new checks in place.
He addressed concerns, saying: «I’ve been assured by the head of Border Force they have now put the processes in place, the automation, the extra staff, to make sure that won’t happen and we can get people through the border quickly and easily.»
He explained checks for a negative test and that the passenger locator form is filled are now done automatically and in advance, rather than by an individual officer.
On the risk of people arriving from red, amber and green countries mixing at the airport, he said those passengers will be segregated in queues and Heathrow is speaking to the Department of Health to provide an arrivals facility for passengers from red list countries.
Mr Holland-Kaye said that facility may be in place by summer.