Airlines demand simplification of Passenger Locator Form for travel

By Simon Calder
Simon Calder

Airlines from Britain and beyond have demanded that the UK passenger locator form is simplified.

The online form must be completed in the 48 hours before arriving in the UK. Many other countries require documents to be supplied, but no other European country has a form as complex as the UK’s. It is available only in English.

At the Airlines 2021 conference in London, many delegates criticised the passenger locator form – which airlines are required to check before allowing travellers to board planes to the UK.

Pieter Elbers, chief executive of the giant Dutch airline KLM, said that ahead of his visit he had asked a colleague to complete the form.

“My assistant almost asked for pay rise for sorting it out,” he said.

Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said the amount of bureaucracy and testing involved in travel to the UK had increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re behaving as though we don’t have a vaccine,” he said.

Earlier this month, Eurostar’s strategy director, Gareth Williams, told a House of Lords committee the form “runs on a list of redundant questions for six pages.”

Since it was introduced in the summer of 2020, the minimum length of the completed passenger locator form has increased in length from three pages to four.

Extra questions include the status (which is currently “non red list” for all countries), the code number for the mandatory “day two” test and any islands visited in the 10 days before arrival in the UK.

While one question – about the seat number – has been dropped, travellers must now answer: “Did you transit through this country via plane or train without passing Border Control?”

But also at the Airlines 2021 event, the aviation minister, Robert Courts, insisted: “We’ve already simplified the passenger locator form.”

The government says the form was simplified in January 2021 and has evolved in line with changes in international travel rules.

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