Travelling Between the UK & the Caribbean – Can we?

A large majority of my family live in Anguilla, and that includes my parents & siblings for the last 10 years. Stacey & I are getting married in April 2021, so naturally I have been obsessing over whether everyone will be able to come to the wedding, and as a result I have reviewed the different factors we need to consider from July 2020 to share with you too.

I’d love to say that April is too far away to care, but with just over 9 months to go and stark warnings from scientists, we need to take this seriously to stay healthy, prevent losing 1000s in travel costs, and avoid disappointment as we head towards April. I know that many of my readers have family in both regions, and others will simply want their first long haul holiday for the first time in a while, so here goes!

I don’t know the answer for every country, but Anguilla is quite a complicated scenario so I thought that sharing this with you would help.

Factors to Consider

I was almost caught out by broadcasted messages from media outlets which is why I’m writing this post. The media aren’t trying to mislead, but they’re looking for headlines – in this context that means a focus on whether we can jet off to Spain for the summer!

Rather than reading the headlines, you need to:

  • Understand the changes in UK law that determines which countries are included (or excluded) from quarantine for 14 days when you arrive home. Any country with a ‘corridor’ or ‘bridge’ can be travelled to for non-essential reasons now too.
  • Understand the other country’s current lockdown status, and whether they accept international travellers. I explicitly say ‘international’ here and not ‘native’ because some countries aren’t allowing those that live overseas to come back home yet.
  • If you need to travel via another country, take as much detail to their current status as this will determine how you’re perceived at the border at your final destination.
  • Most importantly, do not assume that the rules will be the same regardless of the grouping or ownership of the destination.

Context

Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory which is explicitly exempt from quarantine rules. However, unless you earn a 7 figure salary and hire/buy a private jet and crew then it’s almost impossible for you to fly directly and therefore you need to check out at least one other country’s rules. Generally speaking, from Anguilla your shortest connecting options are:

  • Sail to Saint Martin/Sint Maarten on the local ferry, and fly via one of several US states to many UK airports with Jet Blue, United, or American Airlines.
  • Sail to Saint Martin/Sint Maarten on the local ferry, and fly via Paris or Amsterdam to many UK airports with Air France or KLM respectively.
  • Fly to Antigua on a propeller plane, and then fly to Gatwick (most likely Heathrow from 2021), with Win Air, LIAT, and British Airways or Virgin Atlantic.
The descent into Antigua on British Airways BA2157.

Other routes are available during the holiday season, or via third party websites with unconventional connections, but the options I describe above are the safest as you can often book them with one airline meaning that a late connection becomes their problem!

Conclusion

I hope you’re ready for this, and I’m still not sure if my interpretation is entirely correct – after all, this is a global pandemic we’re dealing with.

Going back to the list of exempt countries, the US isn’t currently on it and neither is Saint Martin/Sint Maarten. However, Antigua is on the list.

This simply leaves us with one choice, the only way to travel to the UK from Anguilla without facing quarantine is by travelling via Antigua. Remember, this excludes the wide variety of flight options from Saint Martin/Sint Maarten so we’ll have to travel via one of Anguilla’s local charter airlines in this scenario which can be a little more expensive.

Now we haven’t even begun to discuss whether Anguilla and Antigua are in lockdown. At the moment, although Anguilla is COVID-19 free (only ever having <20 cases and zero deaths), almost the whole economy relies on tourism and they have around 10 ICU beds. Their main concern is that other countries (such as the UK and the US) will have a large population of tourists that may be asymptomatic and create a second wave. Anguilla have stated that they are not relaxing rules for international travellers until well after the summer so this analysis is only applicable after such a time.

Although Antigua will have its own laws, their position is likely to be very similar to Anguilla’s, so we’ll have to cross this bridge when it comes. That’s not all though, the devolved Governments within the UK have different laws on travel and may potentially have a different list of countries – that is, flying to Antigua and then on to Scotland from an airport in England may lead to quarantine there. What’s not clear is whether you could get around this by taking a train from England to Scotland and avoid quarantine.

I don’t suggest travelling is a good idea right now (especially if your ears pricked up when you read about travelling by train to Scotland to avoid quarantine!), but it helps highlight the wide confusion around travelling during this crisis and will help us all plan moving forward.

Whilst this post can’t give you straight forward answers, I hope it’s helped you understand everything you need to check out before making any financial commitments to travel, and I would recommend bookmarking the UK Government’s webpage regarding eligible countries in case this changes either way in the future.

Watch this space to see if we have any interesting and complicated adventures in trying to get the family here for the wedding!

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