Please note: things are changing daily and the best guidance will be had from your airline. This is my personal experience in May/June 2021.
-By Diana Maiola
About a year ago, I said that we were about to approach a brand-new world. Well, I believe it is here, especially in the world of travel. I recently completed an international round-trip flight itinerary. This is actually my first since December of 2019. Little did I know that my love of travel, the very thing that nourishes my heart and soul would be stripped away by an awful pandemic of epic proportion!! Anger is an understatement for how I have felt about having that indulgence and privilege taken away from me and the rest of the world. Yes, at the end of the day I am thankful that myself and everyone near and dear to me are healthy, but in non-pandemic times I would have made that trip every three or four months. We have been fortunate that aside from the restrictions that we have had to deal with regarding amped-up security lines for the last 20 years, travelling both domestically and internationally have been made pretty easy.
Now, let’s get to it. What should you expect right now during international travel? I will share all of the steps that I was required to take in May/June 2021 order to transition easily from country to country. I had 3 flights, Rome to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Detroit and Detroit to Cleveland. As aforementioned, this changes frequently and your airline will provide details of the most recent updates.
From Italy to the USA:
Upon leaving Rome in mid- May, I was required to have a Covid 19 PCR test within 72 hours of departure. I paid about 48.00 euro to a lab for the swab and to have it translated into English. The results were promised in 24 hours, but I had mine back within about 16 hours. The results were sent to my email, but I also chose to print 2 copies in case I was asked to hand over a copy. NB: I was not asked to hand it over. Upon entering Rome Fiumicino Airport, my temperature was taken and I was asked to show my results. Anyone not travelling, was not even allowed into the airport. At the check in desk, I was again asked to show my test results along with the usual passport etc.
My first flight was to Amsterdam and upon arrival at the gate, I was required to fill out an attestation form for the Netherlands. I suggest bringing your own pens. It takes about 60 seconds to complete and then this form is handed in. When it comes time to board, you are asked to present your negative Covid test, your boarding pass, and passport in order to board the plane.
Upon arrival in the Netherlands, I went to my gate for Detroit. At that gate, I was again asked to sign an attestation form and hand it in and subsequently present the negative Covid test, boarding pass and passport in order to board the plane. FYI, these attestation forms were also sent to me by Delta the week before departure. I dutifully filled them out and printed them, but nobody wanted them. So, I filled them out again on site. No big deal.
When I arrived in Detroit, I was asked to show the negative test to the customs agent and that was the last time. I proceeded to my gate for Cleveland and once into the area of domestic travel in the US, nothing was required of me except my boarding pass and ID.
In flight, I was required to wear a mask and I was very happy to do so. The airport and airline staff that I encountered along the way were all wonderful and accommodating and in looking back anticipating departure, it was more the fear of the unknown than anything else.
From USA to Italy:
Delta sent an email outlining all of the necessary steps to complete in order to depart. I was required to log onto euplf.eu to fill out a “Passenger Locator Form”. It takes about 8 minutes to fill out and then you receive a confirmation via email. I departed Cleveland mid-June and again, within 72 hours of departure I had the PCR test at CVS pharmacy. The test was free and they promise results within 24-48 hours. I had mine in 24 hours. This was a drive thru process and I was required to do a self-swab. YUCK! Again, my results were negative and I was ready to depart.
Upon arrival at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, and except for being mask-clad, who would know that we had just gone through a bitter pandemic??!! The airport was packed! No more proverbial balls and chains on ankles…..Americans want to move on and travel!! This time I was flying via Atlanta in order to get to Rome. I checked in for my flight and only needed to produce my passport. Very easy and like old times. Since the next flight was considered a “Covid-Free” flight, the process was about to change. In other words, Italy and several other international countries are not currently requiring travelers to quarantine as long as they arrive on a “Covid-Free” flight.
When I landed in the domestic terminal in Atlanta, it was again just like pre-Covid times. Tons of people etc. I took the shuttle to Terminal E for my flight to Rome. As I got off of the shuttle, there was a very large sign that said, if you are going to Rome, go to gate 14. At Gate 14, I was required to do 3 things, scan a registration form to reserve a rapid Covid test upon arrival in Rome the next day, show my completed Passenger Locator Form and register for a rapid test right there in Atlanta before I could go to my departure gate. In the area of registration, there were about 6-8 airline representatives assisting. Again, it was very smooth and organized and I felt very confident in their efforts. Approaching the departure gate, it was roped off and proof of the negative rapid test was needed in order to enter.
Arriving in Rome was a breeze. You can not make a mistake. Everything is clearly marked, defined and organized. English speaking assistants are everywhere and the process was quick. I would say from the time I exited the airplane, did the rapid test, got the results, cleared passport control and arrived to baggage claim, it was about 34 minutes.
Moving forward everything is going to get easier. The steps that I have just outlined are going to get simpler or be eliminated. The EU is devising a way to extend a green pass to US and Canadian citizens that are fully vaccinated. This should eliminate the need for so many Covid tests. Either way, each step that I experienced was necessary and deliberate and added to everyone’s health and safety on board. That gave me a sense of confidence and security as a traveler. I have always told my travelers to allow
3-4 hours layover before your international connection just in case something is running late. Now more than ever, I still strongly suggest it. Give yourself time and try not to create stress for yourself. There are too many things that you can do in your free time between connections….. eat, drink, read a book, walk around, window shop, catch up on chats etc……..
Many thanks to the men and women who help to facilitate our travel experiences every day. The ones that I encountered were excellent!! Thanks also to those that have put themselves on the front line of this pandemic. Please remember to acknowledge the sacrifices that they have made.
In the interim, give your self the gift of travel, create everlasting memories and as always, be Safe and Happy!! Diana