So, what is it like to travel at the moment?

So, what is it like to travel at the moment?

Well, I have just returned from a multi-leg trip from Edinburgh to Tenerife, Tenerife via London Gatwick (landside transit under 24 hours) to Athens and then Athens directly back to Edinburgh all with Easyjet. Just to make it a bit more interesting, I took the kids (8 and 12). I’m fully vaccinated and they are not…

To cut a long story short, if you pre-plan, budget for the tests and allow a bit of extra time, it is relatively easy. Don’t let the Government propaganda put you off travelling!

If you want to read the much longer story, see below. My apologies as this is a bit convoluted and certainly not your typical trip. We were in and out of Scotland, with a transit through England and the home nations all have slightly different rules.

Firstly, my 12 year old daughter needed a pre-departure PCR test for Spain. This was done by NPH Group at Newcastle Airport. We had booked an allocated time and it was a stress free experience for both of us taking about 20 minutes from arrival to driving away. A negative result was received via email within 8 hours (they say up to 24) along with a certificate containing all the details required.

Once we had this, we knew we could go on our holiday. Although she did not mention it, I’m sure my eldest felt a bit of pressure knowing that if the PCR was positive, we could not go.

The next job was to complete the Spanish PLF form.  Again, this was easy to complete and was done on my mobile. I downloaded and printed this, along with the PCR test result and my vaccination certificate. Although electronic copies are accepted, it definitely speeded things up on arrival having the printed versions.

I had already ordered 4 rapid antigen self-test & certificate packs for entry into the UK (from c19 Testing) and had these packed in our suitcases. There were 2 for our return from Spain to England and 2 for our return from Greece to Scotland.  As my 12 year old also needed a lateral flow for entry to Greece I should have ordered 5 of these tests, but when we took the test in Spain, it was within 48 hours of arriving in Athens, so we were able to use the same result for the UK and Greece.

Arriving at Edinburgh at 4.30am (via a detour to Edinburgh Castle due to putting the wrong postcode in the sat nav) everything was very well organised. We had our documents checked at the Easyjet baggage drop and were given a sticker to say we had been checked and all was correct. We dropped off the bags, went through a very quiet security and enjoyed a nice breakfast. Just the normal checks at boarding and then we were on the flight.

On arrival in Tenerife, again, everything was very well organised. We had our PLF scanned, forms and passports checked and stamped and bags collected within 35 minutes. Two weeks of sun and chilling out followed J

A couple of days before our departure, I checked the FCDO website to make sure nothing had changed. The rules stated that if we were transiting landside in England and leaving England with 24 hours we did not need to book the ‘Day 2’ tests. Me and my eldest daughter took our rapid antigen self-tests on the Wednesday at 1530. Our departure from Tenerife was at 1230 the next day and we then had a flight to Athens at 0800 on the Friday. Two negative results came back via email with a certificate within 2 hours of uploading the results. They do say it can take up to 12 hours for these.

We completed the UK PLF with an exemption for Day 2 due to transit. This was my biggest concern and at check in at Tenerife, a supervisor double checked that we could do the transit. All was in order and we dropped off our bags. The rest went as normal and we flew to Gatwick. On arrival, we just had our passports checked and were sitting in the restaurant at the Holiday Inn within 2 hours of landing.

I took this time to complete our Greek PLF and a large glass of merlot certainly helped. We were not able to print these documents but at Easyjet baggage drop the next morning this did not matter. All of our forms and certificates were once again checked and we had a sticker to prove it! We had time for breakfast before boarding the flight to Athens. On arrival in Greece, there was no need to show anything other than our passports. We cleared all formalities within an hour and had a great week with friends.

The final leg was approaching. I booked our ‘Day 2’ tests as per the Scottish regulations which say you must use the accredited provider and completed our PLF for the UK. We took our final two lateral flow tests. Once again, we got our results back in an email within a couple of hours. We were ready to go home.

My partner, who is Greek, had decided to get her pre-departure test done  locally. Lots of the pharmacies were offering this service for e20. When she came back from the test, which was negative, we had major concerns about the ‘certificate’ the pharmacy had provided. It looked like it had just been typed up and stamped by the pharmacist.

As we did not want to risk her being refused boarding for the flight, we booked another test at the airport for a few hours before departure. The company there provide a certificate within 20 minutes of your test and it costs e20.

At Easyjet check in, me and the girls had no problems. Our forms were checked and we were given a ticket to show that all was correct. My partner however did have an issue as she tried the local pharmacy certificate to begin with. This was not accepted and the same happened to a family next to us who had spent e150 on invalid tests and could not travel. Thankfully, the airport test certificate my partner had just had done was accepted.

After that, everything went smoothly. Arrival in Edinburgh was quick and easy with just the normal passport checks. Our bags were collected and we were on the road home just 1 hour after arrival.

As I write this, I have just dropped off mine and my daughters day 2 tests, both of which were negative.

It is a long story and is nowhere near as complicated as it may sound. All of the airports and Easyjet made things as simple as they possibly could. Yes, you do have to do a bit of admin and get all your papers in order, but that should not put anyone off travelling and I would do it all again tomorrow.

The one thing to emerge from this is that it is vital for the UK travel industry that the UK government do whatever they can to reduce the amount of testing required and the costs. I cannot understand why the cost for tests is so high in the UK? A company at Athens Airport is offering a 20 minute service for a lateral flow test for just 20 euro. Maybe that is something for another blog…

Aled.

#travel #tourism #adventure #holidays #spain #greece  #covidtravel

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