First long-haul trip in 26 months

Head of Global Marketing Operations for our corporate travel brands, Chris Preston, flew from Brisbane to the UK for an internal conference 2 April 2022. It was the first time our corporate marketing leader had travelled overseas in 26 months. The former seasoned traveller said that while he was excited to be travelling again, he was a tad nervous!

“It all felt new again – packing and airport routines that used to be second nature needed more thought this time round,” he said.

FCM spoke to Chris after he returned from his trip and here’s what he had to say about making his way to the UK.

What was the reason for your trip to London?

To reconnect with my team and share the vision of where the global marketing operation is going to our colleagues in Europe, Middle East and Africa. I actually got to meet with seven team members who I had never met before, which was great.  The trip was also about developing strategy with our corporate division’s SteerCo. This was our first in-person planning day as a global leadership team in over two years.

Who booked your trip and was it straightforward?

Our Duty Travel team took care of the booking. It was straight forward – but I had a lot more questions for my travel manager through the process.  It would have been incredibly daunting to do it without the support of a travel manager.

What were the pre-departure and return trip testing requirements?

There was no pre-departure testing requirements heading to the UK. Although at the time I was travelling I did need to provide a negative PCR (no more than 72hrs before departure) or a supervised negative RAT (no more than 24 hours before departure) for the flight home. The process was fairly easy, although I did rely on others who had already travelled for some guidance on this. 

In the end I went with a supervised RAT that I was able to self-administer while being observed/directed by a video telehealth consultant. Essentially you order a testing kit and then book in a telehealth appt.  You do a video call where they instruct you how to do the test and then observe you doing it. You then upload a copy of the result with a copy of your passport which is then reviewed and a certificate is issued. I had my fit-to-fly certificate within about 30mins of doing the test.

What about travel paperwork?

Not too painful. Leaving Australia, you just needed to show proof of vaccination.  Coming back was a bit more involved.  You needed to complete the DPD (an App set up by the Australian government) which houses all your travel details and medical info – this is where you need to upload your vaccination certificate and negative test certificate. This is then shown to airline staff at check-in to prove you are fit to fly.

At the airport, what was the check-in process like?

A walk in the park.  Staff were ready to help and seemed to appreciate it was a bit of a ‘new’ experience for many.

Was the airport experience different?

Brisbane airport was still pretty quiet, so moving through the airport was easy – I’ve never been through security/customs as quick!  Unfortunately, the lounge was yet to reopen (I believe it was happening shortly after). Heathrow was as busy as I remember it – but passing through customs was quick and easy.

Did you need to show your COVID-19 test results?

Yes at check-in for the return flight.

Are airline airport lounges operating?

Brisbane QF lounge wasn’t open yet – but apparently in the coming week it was due to open.  Qatar lounge in Doha was operating and very full.  BA lounge in Heathrow was operating – busy and as normal.

How did arrival in London go?

Smooth.  No hassles and easy to navigate.

Highlight of the trip?

Connecting with people in person!

Do you have any tips for business travellers?

Be well planned.  Be sure to know any local requirements in advance to departure.  Book any testing before you leave.

A reminder for all travellers returning home from overseas after 18 April 2022 – Australia is scrapping its Covid testing requirements for return travellers. Business travel is certainly getting easier!  

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