Monday 25 October 2021

Our recent experience with flying abroad

We have recently returned from a lovely half-term holiday to Rhodes, Greece! We love to travel but it had been over two years since our last trip abroad, and I found the prospect of flying quite daunting. So I thought I'd share our experience in case it is helpful to anyone that is currently wondering about booking a trip abroad. 

Before flying

Preparing for the holiday was fairly stressful. The guidelines change constantly, and online sources of information are quickly outdated. TUI were very helpful and provided an up-to-date spreadsheet with clear information, along with a link to book discounted tests. To visit Greece, Harry needed to do an antigen test two days before arrival as he's over 12 and currently unvaccinated. Then we all needed to complete a Passenger Locator Form for Greece (one per family). For our return to the UK we all needed to book a PCR test for Day 2 (this requirement has now changed to a lateral flow test) and complete Passenger Locator Forms.

There were also extra things to pack for the holiday of course - like plenty of face masks and hand sanitiser. 

Departing from London Gatwick (North Terminal)

The airport seemed quieter than normal but it was still busy. We were travelling just before the usual half-term holiday, so there weren't many families travelling. Everyone was wearing masks, there were plenty of hand sanitiser stations and people kept a good distance while waiting in queues. There were QR codes available with links to the forms that were needed for arrival in various countries. And we did see people filling out the forms while waiting in the queue! We had checked in online and at the bag drop we had to show our vaccination details, proof of the negative antigen test for Harry and the Passenger Locator Form required for Greece. Then we were given a confirmation slip to present at the gate. I assume that if you check in online without going to the bag drop then you would be asked to show your details at the gate when boarding. The queue for security at departures was very short, and there were lots of staff around the airport to help with things.

On the plane

Mask wearing was very strictly enforced on the plane with regular reminders that wearing a mask was a condition of carriage and to remember to replace the mask after eating and drinking. I'm not used to wearing a mask for such a long time so it was a bit uncomfortable, but easily manageable. Also no more than two people were allowed to queue for a toilet at the same time.

Gatwick Airport during coronavirus

Landing in Rhodes, Greece.

The queue on arrival was very short. We knew that there was a chance of random testing on arrival in Greece, and the captain told us during the flight that although sometimes they stop only a few people, sometimes they will test the entire flight. But we didn't see anyone being stopped for a test (our flight did land quite late at night.) We only needed to show our passports like usual.

Departing from Rhodes, Greece.

Again we had checked in online, and at the bag drop desk adults were asked for their vaccination status and our Passenger Locator Forms for the UK were checked (this includes details of the tests which you have booked for your arrival home). This seemed to be a thorough check. The airport was quite busy and felt a little cramped at times, but there was enough space to keep away from other passengers and everyone was wearing masks. 

Landing at London Gatwick (North Terminal)

Arrival at London Gatwick was very smooth and felt just like normal. At Border Control we were only asked for our passports, not the Passenger Locator Form or to prove our vaccination status. I can only assume that this information must be linked electronically to our passports, or else they trust that we provided the information on departure from Greece.

In all our experience on each stage of the journey was very smooth and we were pleasantly surprised with how easy it all was. As long as you make sure that you are familiar with and have completed all the requirements then everything should be fine. Hopefully over time things will become more streamlined, although I do think that Passenger Locator Forms are going to be here to stay for a while yet.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds so stressful going abroad at the moment but well worth it when you arrived at your destination. x


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