EXPLAINED: What are the rules for travel between Austria and the UK?

Travel between Austria and the United Kingdom is much easier than it was just a few months ago, but there are still a few hoops to jump through. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: What are the rules for travel between Austria and the UK?
People at Vienna Airport. Photo: ALEX HALADA / AFP

From late 2020 until the middle of 2021, travel between Austria and the United Kingdom was heavily restricted. 

Indeed, it was difficult or in some cases impossible for people to make the trip unless they were citizens or residents of both countries. 

With the progress of the vaccination campaign in both countries however, things have begun to return to normal. 

UPDATED: What are the rules for entering Austria right now?

Entering Austria from the UK

Austria’s current (as at September 27th) entry rules are highly dependent on which country you are arriving from. 

Austria keeps a list of ‘low incidence’ countries. People can enter from these countries if they are fully vaccinated, have tested negative or recently recovered from the virus. 

Those who have not brought with them evidence of one of these three things can be tested on arrival in Austria. 

As at September 27th however, the United Kingdom is not on the list of low incidence countries. 

This means that in order to enter, arrivals must be fully vaccinated and show proof of vaccination on arrival. 

Those who have had the virus and recovered from it in the past 180 days (and have proof) will also be allowed to enter. 

In effect, this means that people who are unvaccinated or recovered from the virus in the past 180 days will not be allowed to enter Austria, unless covered by another exception (i.e. citizen, resident, transit passenger, etc). 

However, negative tests will not be accepted for entry, whether that be upon entering Austria or getting a negative test before. 

Austria also has a list of virus variant countries from which entry is further restricted, however the UK is no longer on this list. 

The following vaccines are accepted:

BioNtech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinopharm, or Sinovac and Johnson&Johnson (Janssen). 

Click here for more information. 

Entering the UK from Austria

Austria is currently on the UK’s ‘green list’, which is the lowest risk category that the UK government has. 

From October 4th, the rules will change for entry to the UK from Austria. 

Prior to October 4th, vaccinated travellers will need to fill out a passenger locator form before entering the UK. 

In addition, they will need to complete two tests. The first test must be taken in the three days before departure, then another test must be taken after arrival in the UK. 

After October 4th, vaccinated travellers from the rest of the world list will not have to take pre-departure Covid-19 tests. Day 2 tests will still be required. 

More information on the rules can be found at the official UK government site (at the following link). 

The government has also changed the policy on people who have been vaccinated with doses from two different manufacturers. Now, unlike previously, if people are vaccinated with two different doses (for instance AstraZeneca and Biontech/Pfizer), they will count as being fully vaccinated. 

*This article has been updated to remove the incorrect information that travellers can book an antigen test instead of a PCR test for day 2 after arrival from October 4th. In fact this will only be possible later in October as the article now states.

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Why are flights to and from Austria so expensive this summer?

Airline activity to and from Austria has almost fully recovered after Covid lockdowns and travel bans during the pandemic, but prices are soaring.

Why are flights to and from Austria so expensive this summer?

If you’ve been searching for flights to or from Austria during the summer, you may have noticed that prices are higher compared to previous years and even pre-pandemic times.

This trend of soaring prices is not limited to Austria alone; it is happening across Europe.

Ryanair Austria head Andreas Gruber added that the days of flying almost for free are over: “There will be no more 10-euro tickets”, he said in September 2022. Unfortunately, airfare inflation has continued to rise.

In March 2023, plane tickets were, on average, 20.1 percent more expensive than the same month in 2022. International flights saw a price increase of 19.8 percent in April 2023 compared to the previous year, while domestic flights cost 15.5 percent more during the same 12-month period.

READ ALSO: Ryanair to raise flight ticket prices in Austria

Rush to travel

Several factors contribute to these price hikes. The unexpected rush to travel after the pandemic caught the industry off guard and led to chaos at some European airports last summer due to staffing shortages.

Despite the return of passengers, business travellers have not returned in the same numbers as before, partly due to the newfound convenience of virtual meetings. In addition, the slow recovery has impacted the profitability of specific flights, prompting some airlines to discontinue routes altogether.

READ ALSO: Airport chaos in Europe: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

Fuel costs, which account for approximately one-third of ticket prices, are often cited as a reason for the price increase, even though the price of oil per barrel is falling. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) attributes the price hikes to the rising cost of kerosene, explaining that “high fuel prices, as well as other inflationary cost increases, can impact ticket prices if airlines are unable to absorb or avoid these costs.”

Austria’s Statistik Austria said high inflation in April (9.7 percent) was partly due to the “revived desire to travel (accompanied by rising prices for flights, accommodations and restaurants in Austria and in the most popular holiday countries”.

“The prices for package tours abroad, which are in high demand, have increased significantly compared to the previous year and are becoming an important driver of inflation for the first time in a long time”, said Statistics Austria director general Tobias Thomas.

READ ALSO: What is driving rising inflation in Austria and will the government act?

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, noted that while fuel prices have risen by 71 percent, the average rate of the low-cost airline has increased by 31 percent, equivalent to €14. He justified the increase, stating that it remains affordable for many customers.

Furthermore, the ban on overflying Russia has increased travel time by one to two hours for certain Asian destinations, adding to the costs of long-haul flights, according to airlines.

How can I avoid spending too much money on summer travelling?

Although flights may not be as cheap as before, there are still strategies to keep costs down:

– Booking flights well in advance tends to result in cheaper tickets, as prices increase closer to the flight date. Therefore, if you still need to book your flight, now is the time to do so.

– Avoiding the peak holiday season in July and August can help save money. Instead, consider taking an early summer vacation in June or a later one in late August or early September.

– Check websites like Skyscanner and Google Flights for the cheapest airline options. These platforms can also find cheaper tickets if you’re open to making stopovers instead of flying direct.

READ ALSO: Ten ways to save money on your trip to Austria this summer

– Be flexible with your travel dates. For example, look for midweek departures or consider departing from secondary airports, which may offer lower prices compared to major airports.

– If you’re travelling within Europe, consider rail travel as an alternative to flying. The Austrian train system, operated mainly by state-owned company ÖBB, is known for its efficiency and relatively affordable prices and is highly regarded in many countries.

READ ALSO: How does Austria’s Klimaticket for national public transport work?

By employing these strategies, you can still find ways to manage costs and make your travel plans more affordable despite the current trend of rising airfare prices.