I am traveling now for two reasons: to get first-hand experience of international travel again and to help you/me decide if we should travel in 2020.
Travel policies and restrictions seem to be changing every few weeks so this report may not be accurate by the time you want to travel. If you need advice, please know that are monitoring travel policies in Europe and in Asia on daily basis. During this trip I am practicing our tested travel philosophy: be flexible when traveling. As of July 1, Europe has officially re-opened its external borders. That means that once you are inside Europe, you are free to move between countries the same way we moves across the state lines here.
Before International Flight
I have opted to get tested for COVID before my flight. I have done so after and before each of my 3 domestic trips since April. I also plan to get tested when I return home from this trip. I have taken free tests at our local Health Department and I have asked them to provide a paper copy of my negative test. Test are uncomfortable but they are free and accurate; and I recommend that you take test when you travel (domestic or international).
Majority of European counties accept offices FDA approved COVID tests if they are taken within 48-72 hours of your departure/arrival. And if your test is negative, you do not have quarantine!
American Airlines Flight from Chicago to London
Boarding: No travel related questions asked during boarding process even as social distancing and face coverings announcements are made. Everything feels normal, except everyone is traveling with face cover on. We had only 93 passengers on this flight that can carry 238 people! So lots of easy social distancing and many seats per person – everyone has lots of space to themselves.
Upon boarding, two additional announcements were made. First one was from the U.K. Health department explaining that dry cough and loss of taste even when one does not have fever may mean that one is infected. This announcement encouraged passengers with such symptoms to self identify to the crew. The second announcement was from American Airlines and emphasized necessity of social distancing during the flight and requirement to wear face coverings during the flight. They also reminded us to wash hands with soap and to use hand sanitizers that have been provided by the crew.
Flight Service: normal service but without hot beverages. Every Item on the meal tray has been pre-wrapped and drinks came in cans. We were given a small plastic trash bag to put all of our mewl leftovers and supplies into. There was no middle flight snack option.
Requirements: face coverings
Arrival In London
Upon landing in London, all regular processes of terminal transfers and security checks looked very familiar to anyone who has ever traveled through this airport. Nothing out of ordinary so far – except that there are very few people around so every step of every process goes quickly and makes social distancing easy. The only major departure from the norm is that the London airport requires that face mask or covering must be worn at all time when inside the terminal.
Most unusual experience this morning: London Heathrow Airport (one of the busiest airports in the world) was empty! I was the only person in the whole terminal when transferring to my flight to Berlin. Another (pleasant) surprise was lack of any negative reaction toward me when I presented my American passport and told officials that I have just arrived on a flight from Chicago. No forms were required of me. I was allowed to proceed without any limitation.
More updates soon.
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