Traveler at airport

What is it like to travel during COVID? Experience report USA

  ·  COVID-19

So much in advance: Traveling by plane during COVID is possible and ok. It does take a lot of extra planning, however, and of course you should have a good reason to fly. The spread of COVID-19 continues to lead to restrictions in international air and travel traffic and impairment of public life. For example, the Federal Foreign Office is currently warning against unnecessary tourist trips to the USA.

You should know and comply with the current rules and regulations. These are currently constantly changing from country to country. This article therefore introduces the essential processes and sources of information that you should meet. So you should definitely read the current status on the Internet again.

Entry restrictions exist to and from the USA. So the trip there is probably associated with the greatest organizational effort at the moment. A good example to describe the travel planning and process. Hopefully this article will save you a lot of research time.

Flight booking – direct flight preferred, but these are currently less available

At the moment, most flights can be booked very cheaply, even a few days before departure. In addition, almost all providers allow booking changes or cancellations at short notice. That makes it really attractive to distract yourself from the dreary everyday life with the planning of a trip!

Basically, it is always advisable to take a direct flight. These are often more environmentally friendly. In addition, you want to spend as little time as possible on the plane at the moment and avoid any additional stops and the hustle and bustle when boarding and disembarking.

Travel USA during COVID
Flug Frankfurt nach Berlin, 2021

However, the variety on offer is also much less than it was a year ago. This is why many direct flights cannot be booked at all at the moment. And the lower number of flights sometimes leads to significantly longer transfer times, as the ideal feeder flight is often not offered.

So if you are a bit flexible with the date of your arrival, we recommend comparing several days on GruenerFiegen. To make your choice easier, GruenerFiegen has built in many filters. Here you can, for example, specify the maximum number of changes in the filter. So you are sure to find a suitable offer from one of the more than 750 providers that we compare.

TIP: Most direct flights to Newark (EWR) are currently from Frankfurt and Munich. From Berlin to New York (JFK) it usually goes via London, Paris or Amsterdam. It is flown by British Airways, KLM or Air France. The Lufthansa offer from Berlin is significantly less than usual. From there you change to Frankfurt or Munich. So if you want to avoid switching abroad, compare the offers on different days exactly.

Important links: – Book a flight

Federal Foreign Office – Official Travel Information from Germany

Entry requirements – There are many additional COVID-related requirements

The Federal Foreign Office provides up-to-date information on travel. All travelers to the USA must, for example, show a negative Covid-19 test (PCR tests or antigen test) before departure. The test must not be older than 72 hours and must be in electronic or paper form upon departure. This test obligation applies to all travelers. And of course all travelers to and from the USA must wear medical masks. Children under two years of age are exempt from these regulations.

The American consulate in Germany also provides very clear and up-to-date information on the currently applicable regulations. Not everyone can just go straight to the US. Even after the recently issued proclamation by the new president, all “non-permanent resident foreign nationals” are not allowed to travel directly from Germany to the USA.

Travel USA during COVID
Flug Newark nach Frankfurt, 2021

TIP: If you absolutely have to travel to the USA, you can enter a country not affected by the proclamation after a two-week stay. This would be the case, for example, if you fly to Jamaica and then travel on to the USA after a two-week stay. Check out our article about Jamaica …

TIP: There is also an exception for certain groups of people. This means that non-Americans or green card holders can also enter the country directly. The so-called “National Interest Exception” (NIE). Read through the regulations carefully, maybe you will be eligible for it. And if your important reason for travel is not listed, try anyway! Write an email to the consulate and you will get an answer within 7 days. After that you have 30 days to enter the USA if you have a permit.

Important links:

Federal Foreign Office – Official Travel Information from Germany

American Consulate in Germany – Immigration and Visas

Mandatory corona tests – up to four tests are required

Since you have to take the test within 72 hours before departure, it is best to look for a test center near your home. So you can be sure that you can also present it. In Germany, the test results are relatively reliable within 48 hours.

You will have to show the test results frequently in the course of the trip. So keep it close at hand!

In the USA, you should make an appointment for the test before you return home. You can often see the expected duration of the test results on the Internet. Of course, you have to choose a provider who guarantees the results within 72 hours. This is by no means the case everywhere!

As in Germany, in most states in the USA there is the option to shorten the quarantine period to 7 days. For this you have to do a test between 3 and 5 days after entering the country.

TIP: Definitely do the second test on arrival. This is how you can familiarize yourself with the local testing procedure. In addition, you get a good feeling about the duration until you receive the test results.

At the airport and during the flight – more relaxed and cleaner than usual

Of course, you have to wear a mask at the airport and on the plane and keep your distance from employees and fellow travelers. In my experience, airports and airlines are handling the situation very well. The procedures and hygienic condition are very good. The range of dining and shopping options is clearly limited. But the queues are shorter due to the lower number of travelers.

Travel USA during COVID
Flughafen Berlin-Brandenburg, 2021

Return to Germany – first put in quarantine and contact the health department

The need for the corona test result has already been dealt with in detail. Make an appointment with a good provider in good time!

You also need the result for reporting to the health department. On the electronic entry form you have to enter the address at which you are going to quarantine. Your contact person is the health department of the district in which you live. They all have their own documents. You can check online to which email address you need to send the forms. Or you can call the local hotline. I also had good experience there and I received further help. But since you are in quarantine for at least 7 days, you can still take care of it after your return. After all, there is nowhere else to go for that long. Anyone who has traveled for professional reasons can also apply for a so-called “shuttle quarantine”. So you can go straight to work and back again. You will receive the exact requirements from the health department.

TIP: You should have filled out the electronic entry form for Germany before you check-in and keep it at hand. You will be asked about it. So at least the fellow travelers in the queue behind you will thank you.

Important links:

German Foreign Office – Quarantine and Immigration Rules in Germany

Digital Immigration Documents – everybody has to complete this


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