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Thread: My first international travel post-Covid

  1. #1

    My first international travel post-Covid

    I am on my first international trip since the coronavirus pandemic hit, two weeks to eastern Europe, and it has been both interesting and challenging. I found quite a number of airport businesses either temporarily or permanently out of business due to the pandemic. My favorite place to eat breakfast at the Raleigh Durham airport is closed for good, and the temporary closures at the Vienna airport of restaurants left so few options, I decided to just go with the airplane meals. It appeared that just about everything was open at the Istanbul airport. This was the first time I had connected through the new Istanbul airport and it is a big improvement over the old one. I had a rather short layover, but the only downside is that on a long layover, the great possibllities of travelling into the city that existed now do not due to the new airport being so far out of the city and not having the same great public transportation to old Istanbul that the old one did. For overnight layovers, the new airport also lacks the cluster of close by reasonably priced hotels that the old airport had. A majority of airport lounges at both Washington Dulles and Vienna were closed temporarily. When I went to look for something at a duty free shop at the Vienna airport, the one closest to my gate was closed, the sign still up but all the stock removed. I had to go to the other end of the airport but I found one open there. I flew on three airlines, United, Austrian, and Turkish. In-flight service was essentially non-existent on the UA flight, but it was pretty much normal on Austrian and Turkish. Austrian did not let me chose seats, although its website had claimed I could 23 hours before departure. They assigned me exactly what I always try to get on eastbound overnight TATL flights, a window seat, so I got lucky, and with nobody in the seat beside me. Austrian announced that passengers had to keep their assigned seats and could not move. The airline had spread people out to maximize distancing.

    The worst part was having to wear the face masks constantly for an extended period, both in the airport and on the aircraft, which was true of all three airlines and all four airports. My hard to get N95's. the only masks that offer much real protection were not approved due to the exhaust vents, so I had to go with the next best thing KN95's, which also can be a challenge to find, but not nearly as much so as the N95s. In addition to the lesser protection offered, the KN95s had the loops that held them on around the ears instead of around the back of the head like the N95s. A day after travel, the back of my ears are still red and raw but it was much worse late yesterday. Many travelers were wearing next to useless cloth masks or surgical masks, but those were apparently okay with the airlines and airports.

    The "vaccine passport" cards showing vaccination was only a problem going through passport control. There were two lines, one for those with the digital EU vaccination certification, which was shorter and moved faster and one for those with other proof of vaccination, much longer and very slow moving. If you were not vaccinated at all, you had to stay in quarantine for 14 days. Fortunately, after a long wait in the passport control line, an official came through and allowed some of us into the faster moving line with a slip of paper that he had approved our proof of vaccination. The US CDC vaccination card, which was what I was carrying seem to count more than some of the other paper proof of vaccination cards.

    One challenge on the return flight is that the US requires our own citizens to show a negative test result 48 hours before arrival in the US. With what I have read, those tests do not have the best reliability, so I hope i do not get in a bind from that. When I read that illegal aliens are being allowed into the country with no Covid test at all, it is outrageous that this demand is being made of US citizens. Maybe I should just tell passport control that I identity as an illegal alien and want to claim asylum. Given the travel time to get to the US, jumping through the timing hoops to meet the 48 hours will also be a challenge.

    Fortunately, I am in a country with low Covid rates and virtually everything is open. The masks are required indoors but not outside.

  2. #2
    Class President M. Henley's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
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    Wow!
    M. Henley

  3. #3
    Platinum Contributor Nancy's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
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    Thanks for update.

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