NEWS: Portugal to reopen from 17 May & Champions league in Porto, NHS app working as Covid passport, Earn Virgin miles on trains

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Portugal to reopen from 17 May

A very last-minute reprieve was given by Portugal today to allow Brits to enter from 17 May. The delay was due to the fact that the UK is still banned by the EU as a third country. This had been due to be overturned this week but was delayed. Being the president of the EU this year, this put Portugal in a difficult position. Fortunately, they made the sensible decision to reopen from Monday, but they have gone back on their initial statements that would allow vaccinated travellers to enter without a test. 

Here is the official statement:



Champions League in Porto

Porto, Portugal old town Ribeira aerial promenade 

It is still not totally clear of the situation for football fans when they visit Porto on 29 May. However, both TAP and British Airways have laid on extra flights to Porto. BA has added a total of 25 extra flights including from Manchester. You can find out prices and schedules here. 

TAP Air Portugal has also added extra flights from London and Manchester to Porto.

TAP Extra Flights:

  • 26 May, London-Porto
  • 28 May, London-Porto, TP3255
  • 28 May, Porto-London, TP3254
  • 28 May, Manchester-Porto, TP3251
  • 30 May, London-Porto, TP3255
  • 30 May, Porto-Manchester, TP3252
  • 29 May, flights operated with A321 equipment
  • 31 May, flights operated with A321 equipment


There is a special TAP page here.


NHS now working as Vaccine Passport

You can now check to see if your NHS app is showing your vaccinations to enable you to use it as a vaccine passport. This is not the same as the NHS Covid-19 app and you will need to register. For some people, you may also need to contact your GP if it is not working properly.

When you first log in, you should see the screen above with an arrow to click to show the full details of your vaccines with batch numbers etc. I had a look and mine are all showing correctly. Hopefully, this will suffice to travel to Malta next month. I have to say I had my doubts if the government could do it, but to be fair to them they have done it in time with a couple of days to spare!


Earn Virgin miles on trains

Virgin Flying Club Miles are now called Virgin points and there is also a new scheme called Virgin Red which allows you to collect and spend Virgin points on a wider range of items. You do need to join both separately. 

Virgin are now offering a new way to buy train tickets called Virgin Trains Ticketing – on the Virgin Red app, giving members a way to book travel on any train within England, Scotland and Wales. For Virgin Red members, they will be able to earn Virgin Points whenever they book train travel on the Virgin Red app with three Virgin Points for every £1 spent. Booking train travel via Virgin Red is quick and easy to use, with no booking fees on e-tickets and members will be able to view their e-tickets instantly within the app.

Here are some examples of what you could earn. 

  • An off-peak return from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly over a weekend (£94.50) will accrue 282 Virgin Points. 
  • An off-peak return from London Victoria to Brighton over a weekend (£36) will secure 108 Virgin Points.
  • An off-peak return from Manchester Piccadilly to Edinburgh Waverley over a weekend (£116) will collect 348 Virgin Points. 

12 Comments on "NEWS: Portugal to reopen from 17 May & Champions league in Porto, NHS app working as Covid passport, Earn Virgin miles on trains"

  1. The NHS app will certainly not allow entry to Iceland (unless they bend their rules). The app doesn’t show where the vaccine was administered for example. It doesn’t even show your name or date of birth on the page, so it is absolutely useless unless you are showing it live on your phone to an official.

    More importantly if you follow the help section on the app it says

    “Can I use this to prove my vaccination status for international travel?”
    Answer “No”. They say this service is only for you to view details of your vaccinations (which you could already do, albeit in a different section).

    This is absolutely NOT a covid vaccination passport. It is no better than the paper vaccination card I already have, i.e. no use at all.

    • Iceland are particularly picky about proving it. If you have a phone signal you can show the name and date of birth in the app and then the vaccine number. For many places this will probably be enough plus eventually it should link in to other countries systems. I got a letter from my GP with relevant information. I can’t understand why they would need to know where you had it as long as it’s in the U.K. NHS app. I understand they accept US vaccine cards now in Iceland.

      • Thanks Michelle. I hope there’ll be some info from other UK travellers by the time we go in late June. I agree with you on the place of vaccination; it’s not relevant other than at a country level.

        I don’t understand why the page in the app doesn’t have your name, dob and NHS number on that page, so you could screenshot it to provide evidence in advance – I imagine countries will want a pdf submitted in advance and this doesn’t allow it.

        I’m loathe to ask my GP as they have quite enough on their plate and would be quite within their rights to say no. So I will keep that as a last resort!

        • They usually charge so are quite happy to do it!

          • @Michele It’s not legal to charge for a patient access request ( which is all you need a copy of to show what you need) so i’d suggest inviting your doctor’s to refund you, make sure they don’t repeat their “error” and stop breaking the law.

            You might’ve been fine paying for it but there will be others who don’t have the ability to do so so stamping out this kind of behaviour needs to happen quickly. Not to mention the moral aspect of it all of course.

            Along with others who’ve commented I find the change very minor and having anything in any app has always been pointless unless it is recognised by other governments. Making a cosmetic change to an app does not International recognition make. Your own gov’ saying it is X means nothing if Javier, Harold, Boris, Weng-Li or Mary sat on the border desk of X.Y.Z country hasn’t been told what to look for & to accept it. I fail to see how HM Gov has managed to get, near, universal global agreement on it in the space of a couple weeks as it took them that same concurrent time bar, literally, a couple days to make the aforementioned cosmetic/ library change in the app.

          • The app has changed today. There is another section for “travel” and it allows the download of a PDF certificate, which I think should satisfy any requirements for travel.

          • Yes it also produces a QR code so hopefully will be accepted by most countries.

  2. The NHS app is not a vaccine passport please don’t get excited it will not be accepted for travel

  3. I can understand anyone being wary of a screenshot instead of live use of the app. Too easy to photoshop.

  4. I did have my doubts if anything would be produced at all so that’s a pleasant surprise.
    The fact it lacks the key information required by WHO for a proof of vaccination (ie place of vaccination ) is annoying (but also not surprising).
    Hopefully it will be updated soon to add that (I’d assume they hold that information somewhere) as one of the key things is international standards to allow for simpler travel procedures.
    Be useful to know if anyone has success with Iceland or other places accepting it

  5. Jose Revez | 15 May 2021 at 10:09 am |

    So, to enter another country like for instance Portugal, and if the NHS app is not acceptable as a proof of having the injections as a vaccine passport, what does ? Am just thinking of those people out there that are screaming to travel and have young kids to deal with plus to have to deal with the all bureaucracy involved. Amazing

  6. Clive Fletcher-Wood | 15 May 2021 at 2:53 pm |

    It has been officially stated that GPs will not provide a vaccination record in writing, so Michele’s GP was presumably doing her a favour (and Michele didn’t specify whether she had been charged, she said that they ‘usually’ charge). But apparently one can obtain a written record by calling 119. I’m merely reporting what I’ve seen in the press, I haven’t tried this myself. Much though I’d like to be travelling outside the UK I’m waiting to let the dust settle, and the immigration queues to subside.

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