22 June 2021

Covid-Tested Flights


We have both been vaccinated and decided June would be a good opportunity to visit our families in the US for the first time in almost two years.

Delta Airlines offered Covid-Tested flights to and from the US/Italy via select airports in both countries. There were very specific requirements to avoid any quarantines in either country and with the pandemic still a world-wide issue we felt this would be the safest option for us. We flew from Rome FCO to New York JFK and return Atlanta ATL to Rome FCO – with connections to Cleveland.

The requirements to enter the US were less stringent than those to return home to Italy. To board our flight at FCO we had to have a Covid test within 72 hours of our flight – we did a rapid test two days before at a local lab that we have used for medical tests in the past. We had our results in a few hours and were able to print the results at home. We arrived at the airport and the process was operated by Delta employees and it seemed like this was the first time they were doing this – we showed them our negative test and flight confirmation and then were able to access the check-in.

Our flight was less than half full and we were able to each have several seats across to relax. There were no restrictions on changing seats and masks were enforced, whatever type you were wearing. The arrival process at JFK was no different than pre-pandemic other than wearing masks.

We put our masks on when we entered the airport in Rome and did not remove them until 18 hours later when we exited the airport in Cleveland.

Since we were going to be meeting our families and my elderly parents, we had brought rapid tests with us (you can buy them at a pharmacy in Italy) and tested ourselves a few days later – both negative.

During our time in the US, we were upfront with family and friends that despite the relaxed pandemic requirements in Ohio, we would be following specific anti-Covid protocols as we needed to test negative to return home to Trivigno.

To return home we needed a Covid test 72 hours before our flight and complete two forms online that we would need once we arrived at Rome FCO. Finding a location in the Cleveland area that would provide test results with 24 hours was more difficult than expected. Prices quoted also varied widely from $150 to more than $300. The locations listed on the Delta website would only commit to “results back in 24 to 72 hours”.

I finally found an Urgent Care provider, Wellnow, that repeatedly said results in 24 hours. I had my test done on a Wednesday morning and the results were ready by the next morning. Due to a mix-up on their end with our cell number, I had to drive back to their office to get the results and could not print them from home.

When we arrive in Rome FCO we have to take another rapid test and Valerie had found an article that mentioned making the appointment in advance which I did on the adr.it website. I was also able to complete the Passenger Locator Form online in advance at app.euplf.eu/. I printed both of these and had them with my flight documents.

When I arrived at Atlanta ATL I had to go gate E14 where they had set-up to confirm your prior negative test and have you sign-up for another rapid test before boarding. There is a QC code that you will have to use and input minimal information to be able to have the test done (make sure you can do this with your smartphone). This was well organized and after waiting about 20 minutes for my results I was able to proceed to the gate. There was similar testing in the same area for flights to Amsterdam.

The flight to Italy was almost completely full and they announced you could not change your seat and masks were enforced. Prior to landing they distributed surgical style masks to anyone not using that type as required to enter the Rome FCO airport.

Inside the terminal, as has always been my experience, there was more than one international arrival at the same time. This meant a long line to get to the rapid test, about 45 minutes. Once I was in the testing area the process was quick and orderly - I was done in under 20 minutes. You received your test results and then headed to customs which was unusually quick and to the baggage area where the bags were waiting on the carousel.

I was seated near the front of the plane and from landing to exiting the terminal it took me just about 1.5 hours.

So – one test 72 hours in advance to leave Italy and enter the US. One test 72 hours in advance, rapid test before boarding and rapid test upon arrival in Italy.

Obviously, Italy is currently being more prudently cautious during this pandemic than the US.

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