It has been more than 2 years, but when the opportunity to travel internationally for the first time since the lockdowns started, it was interesting and…challenging to determine all the requirements and steps to ensure you can check all the boxes properly and in the right places in the tight time slots before travelling.
OK – let’s talk about some of the challenges when travelling from country to country. In my case, I am travelling on business from the United States to Israel. Both have different, but similar requirements on vaccination (or recovery) and negative testing before travelling.
Very simply, you need to make sure you are not infected before travelling as that would not only be disallowed…it would cause you to potentially get quarantined for a long time in a hotel that you did not plan or want to encounter as part of your trip! So if you need to ensure you are not infected…there are a lot of things you need to think about.
- Staying distanced and isolated the week before the travel (flight) date
- Wearing an N95 mask at all times around others to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus or infected person
- Testing several times using home tests before performing the mandatory (and expensive) professional office PCR test that the airline (and country) will require for entry
- Coordinating your timing for the testing and your flight schedule if the flight is on a weekend
- Understanding what forms and online checklists you need to submit for your destination
- Making sure you have digital and paper copies of all tests, vaccine cards, etc. to have ready for each authority that will check
Building on the above, most of the airlines do not appear to allow you to check-in for your flight online, submit the required documentation online, etc. so you need to be prepared for EXTRA time at the airport to have them review ALL your required docs and enter them into their system.
I arrived early to check in (assuming that the lines would be crazy long), but I was surprised that being Delta Diamond Skymiles status made it very easy and it only took a few minutes for them to confirm all my paperwork. I felt lucky and relieved, but also realized that pretty much anyone could fake the documents and they will issue you a boarding pass. It is possible they already had all the records in the system from the providers, but as we all know from Seinfeld, never ASSUME…
I made sure I had electronic and paper copies of my vaccines, tests, entry forms, approvals, passes…you never know what you will need so I spent extra time up front to ensure I was ready. Some people may need visas based on destination. If needed, check out iVisa which is my recommendation.
The airport is definitely full, but with the combination of CLEAR pass and TSA pre-check, it takes less than 10 minutes to get through security.
Some people may ask, why both? The reality is many people in the US are now TSA pre-check enrolled and that long can get pretty long in itself. With CLEAR, you get to jump to the beginning of even the pre-check line 🙂
The lounge was busy, but not uncomfortably full. Everyone has a mask, but maybe 50% take them off for most of the time in the lounge. The Delta Skylounge food was not fancy today, but since I left the home early, it hit the spot to not starve before the late afternoon meal on the flight.
Now when they put out the lounge food at 10:15, check out the lines. Yikes! They were longer than the airport check-in lines.
The alternative shortcut was the cookie trays…but they were snatched up < 30 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, the Delta staff is awesome, but they crowd demands were enormous. I guess this why all the lounges are getting more restrictive in who they let in as guests, or not.
I am trying to be extra careful of putting my mask on after each sip of coffee or orange juice. Do not want to risk anything and land in Tel Aviv with an infection…
- Packing lots of masks as they get dirty, wet and worn out.
- Packing home tests or tests you may need to perform to return to the United States
- Packing extra clothes, books, and computer accessories…because what will you do if you get unexpected quarantine?
You are going to be on a long flight. What type of masks or mask(s) will be the most comfortable for long periods of time as well as pulling up/down for meals(s) or drink(s).
Next post will about the flight and arrivals. Stay tuned!