We are open! It’s been something we have been waiting to hear for a very long time. So as soon as we heard that Greece was one of the few countries that opened their borders for tourism, we immediately started looking in to what the requirements were in order to get there. All the information that we are going to share with you is always changing and it can change even after you take off and are blissfully on your way to your destination, we speak from experience.
The first thing we did was look at flights to see who was flying in to Greece and luckily the airline we use often was offering flights! So knowing that we could get to Greece we headed over to their government website and looked for their entry requirements and the rules we must follow during our visit. In order for us to be allowed entry in to Greece we had to meet one of two requirements, either have a negative PCR test within 72 hours prior to our arrival or be fully vaccinated and the last vaccine must have been given a minimum of 14 days prior to the departure date. There’s also a Passenger Locator Form you must fill prior to your departure, I believe every country now has this in place. We were excited about this as we have both have been fully vaccinated so we started booking our flights to Athens. This is where things get a bit interesting. At the time we booked our flight there were no direct flights from the US to Greece so we had to connect in London. Now we had to go to the UK’s government website and see what the rules were for connecting flights. In order for us to fly in to the UK we had to have a negative PCR test done 72 hours prior to arrival regardless of vaccination status and the connecting flight must be within 24 hours after arrival. There’s also a Passenger Locator Form to fill out prior to departure. The difference in the UK is that you can only travel to the UK for work and you have to self quarantine for 10 days if you plan on staying over 24 hours, so if you miss your flight be prepared to spend ten days in a hotel room. They have what’s called Test and Release, Shannon calls it Catch and Release, where after 5 days you can have a PCR test done and be released from quarantine, of course this option is depending on what your plans are and only available for a few travelers. As we were connecting we just had to make sure that we left the UK in that 24 hour window, and we did. There’s going to be a new update for travel guidelines on June 7th for UK travel.
Now, let me tell you about our journey now that we got all the rules and regulations out of the way. Before I start let me remind you that the PCR test is not the rapid test you can find at your local drugstore. This is a lab test that takes up to 48 hours to get the results so keep this in mind if you are planning on traveling. There are places that have the results within 24 hrs, look for those. Moving on. On the day of our departure we decided to give ourselves extra time, on top of the two hours required for international travel, just in case something came up that we had to deal with. We are glad we did! The poor ticket agent had to get on the phone with their London headquarters to get all the requirements checked before we were cleared to get our tickets. This took an hour because the people in London were having to make sure what the current rules were at the time. One person was saying one thing and the other something different and the poor agent was left in the middle trying to decipher what was being said. Finally someone decided to go directly to the UK government website and see that we had done everything required in order for us to connect through London. Side note, please be mindful and remember that neither the agents or the airlines are the ones making the rules you must follow in order to fly. They are following the rules set by the government officials and it feels like they change their minds often. This is exactly what happened to us. We had filled out all the forms required before we departed and found out nine and a half hours later when we arrived that they required a different form. Luckily the border agents in London were dealing with the same changes and were just as frustrated as we were and guided us on how to fill out the new forms. They were amazing and went above and beyond to make sure we had everything we needed. With a huge sigh of relief we headed to our hotel for the night as the only available flight at the time was early in the morning and our flight had arrived in the afternoon.
The flight to Greece was easy as all we had to do was present our vaccination cards and show them our Passenger Locator Form. So almost five hours later we touched down in Athens and started our adventure! There are a few things to keep in mind when you are traveling in Europe. They board flights from the back of the airplane to the front. You still have to wear your mask everywhere except in your room or while sitting at a restaurant.
Final thoughts... Make sure to check all your paperwork to make sure you have everything out need to travel and enter the country you are visiting. Check to see what the flight connection requirements are for the country you are connecting through. Be patient with the airline staff as they are doing the best they can to make sure you are able to travel. If you have to get tested before your flight please make sure to see what test is acceptable as many of the quick tests are not being accepted and a PCR test will take some time to get the results. Above all, sit back, relax and enjoy your travels!