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Our Experience Getting to Greece

I know I was searching for every bit of info prior to making the trip to Greece, departing May 30 and arriving May 31. So thought I would share our experience - which may or may not be your exact same experience if you are coming here soon.

“Our” experience includes my wife, 17 year old granddaughter, and her friend flying from Denver to Dallas, through Heathrow, and then to Athens. All four of us had been vaccinated and passed the mandatory two weeks prior to departure. However, we were transiting through London and that required a COVID test. With the unknowing of how long it would take to get results and taking every precaution, we all took the COVID test twice in 2 days. That ended up being a wise move as three of us got both our results back in about 30 hours, but our family friend’s first result never arrived before we departed. Fortunately her second test came back the day before departure.

For me the biggest stresser was completing the PLF (Personal Locator Forms). The Greece one was easier and was accepted. But you won’t receive the confirmation email until midnight the day of arrival, in our case it arrived three minutes after midnight on the 31st, which was as we were taking off from Dallas. The email includes a QR code which I then had on my phone.

The pLF for UK was a lot more confusing. After a one hour call with British Air (the agent was really nice, but said he really didn’t know because he had never had to fill one out) I finally surmised that what I was missing was to include the PLF I had submitted to Greece as well. Who knew they needed that?! Well, at least I hadn’t. Once my daughter came over to help figure out how to upload the forms for the four of us, we were approved. And that was early on the day of departure. So that felt better than having to take care of that at the airport!

At the airport in Denver (checking in on American Airlines), we were asked to see our negative COVID test results which I had printed out. I didn’t know what to expect when checking in at Dallas with BA, but we had a tight connection (due to a delay in Denver) and when we checked in at Dallas nothing was asked other than to show our boarding passes and passports.

In London, we weren’t ever asked to show any proof of a negative test, it was just like transiting at any other time - except many fewer passengers at Heathrow! And then when we arrived in Athens, in the line just before passport control we were asked to show our QR code which I had on my phone. It wasn’t scanned or anything - just a cursory glance that we had it. :)

It was 7:00 pm when we arrived and we spent the night there and the next morning flew to Santorini. The agent asked to see our negative test result and we said we all had proof of vaccine. She was quite surprised we all had that and exclaimed that was great. I assume she was mostly surprised that the two 17 year-olds had received it as here it is not yet available to younger people.

Today (June 3) we are taking the ferry to Naxos and I’m assuming we will have to show our proof of vaccination to get on there as well.

It’s delightful as there are not many tourists, but enough to not feel like a ghost town. The hotels, restaurants, tour guides are happy to see tourists starting to slowly come back and are extra friendly. In the brief two days in Santorini we have not seen any cruise ships, so of course that also means not as many guests.

When you are comfortable doing so, I hope you make your way back to Greece again!

Posted by
8648 posts

Thank you Springstein, your post is very helpful, my son will be there in 3 wks.

Posted by
333 posts

Thanks for all of that great information. So it sounds like they will accept a US CDC vaccination card as proof.. Glad to hear that it is not a "ghost town". We are going in September, Newark direct to Athens. Question, How did you know that a negative test and PLF were required? Did the airline reach out to you or did you proactively research that subject?

Posted by
8007 posts

Thanks for taking the time to put this together. This is useful not only for people going to Greece, but also anyone transferring through the UK, so I put a link in my Covid-19 travel report.

Enjoy your visit.

Posted by
801 posts

Thank you. Also useful information for those of us wanting to get into Heathrow this summer. I know there is also a 10-day quarantine currently for travelers visiting the UK from the US, but I am visiting family.
Margaret

Posted by
2776 posts

Thank you for taking the time to write about your experience. We aren’t traveling till mid August and hope the vaccine card will be enough. Just in case we are figuring out if a direct flight is the best way to go. We are going to Croatia but Zagreb is the nearest airport, with no direct flights. We might fly into Split or Dubrovnik, stay one night, then rent a car to drive to Rijeka, our destination. The drive from Zagreb is 1.5 hours whereas Split/Dubrovnik is 5-6 hours. We have a lot to think about and will keep up-to-date on COVID news.

Posted by
7 posts

@caldbunch, allow me to clarify. For Greece you need EITHER proof of vaccination OR a COVID negative test taken within 72 hours of departure. Since you are flying directly from Newark, at this time you will only need proof of vaccination if you have had that. It’s only because we were flying through London - and even just transiting through the airport, we had to have a negative COVID test as per UK regulations.

I just read everything I could online! I was told we had to have the original of the proof of vaccine, so that’s what we had as I don’t want to take any unnecessary risks.

Posted by
7 posts

Quick update, we took the ferry today from Santorini to Naxos. No ID or any COVID related documentation needed. I just want to re-state that this has been our experience, Please be sure to stay updated on any changes that may occur before your travel!

Posted by
10 posts

My husband and I are on a direct flight to Athens from Chicago as well - thanks for the trip report. I will post our experience as well.

Posted by
57 posts

Since the CDC requires a negative Covid test for returning to the US, have you planned on how you will get the test and results?

Posted by
10 posts

We are bringing test kits from Abbot lab to use 72 hours before our return flight. If those don't end up working for whatever reason, then we plan to either book an appt in Athens proper or go out to the airport for one.

Posted by
50 posts

Thank you Springstein,
This helps us very much! We are flying into Crete on July 3 and hoping Germany opens up for travel on the 8th as we have a wedding there. Kind of winging it at this point with the latter part of the trip since it is unknown about Germany right now. Out layovers are in Seattle, Frankfurt then to Crete. I'm thinking we will all need a negative PCR for Germany, even to transfer and then get another while in Crete before hopefully flying into Germany. Thanks again, I'll review this again as it gets closer.
Sarah

Posted by
51 posts

Sprinstein, thanks for this info. Question on the vax proof... did you just show your paper CDC card or was there anything else? If so, did you try using copies (in case your primary is lost), or did you just use the original?

Posted by
7 posts

@tph2010, we are in Athens the last four nights of our trip and plan to get it there. My understanding is that there are several places to have the tests taken, but I thought I’d leave that worry alone until we get there!

Posted by
7 posts

@possumracing47, we did just show the paper CDC card when departing the Athens airport for Santorini. So far that’s the only time we’ve been asked to show it. I have copies of everyone’s card, but each of us has kept our own paper original with us. (which doesn’t feel all that official!)

Posted by
15 posts

This sounds like a fun experience. It's nice to hear accounts of people's travels in Greece during this time. I haven't been to Greece since before the pandemic, and I had been wondering what it was like.

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you so much, we have a similar route to Athens via Heathrow this week and knowing about the Greek PLF inclusion is a big help! Just FYI - my daughter found some very inexpensive small plastic sleeves on Amazon that fit the CDC vax cards to help protect them during travel.