Traveling During COVID

Traveling During COVID

After three failed attempts to celebrate my 50th Birthday in Ireland, our trip was finally taking off Oct 1 - 9, 2021. Our flight into Shannon was cancelled and we were re-routed to Dublin and Ireland was on the Level 4 - Do Not Travel list but we were still going if Ireland didn't decide to bock Americans in retaliation for not opening traveling to the EU.

Having a child under 12 at home, I made sure we took every precaution we could as I did not want to bring anything home other than a few souvenirs. I had some Business Extra points which gave my traveling companion and I a visit to the American Airlines Club prior to our flight in Philadelphia, keeping us away from the groups of people waiting for flights as domestic and Internation were in the same terminal.

When we checked-in at PHL, we notice the kiosks were closed and we had to see a representative to check-in for the flight. Not a soul in line, we walked right up and the representative was, as usual, very indifferent despite our cheery nature. I showed her our VeriFly App which gave us both a green-light, turned over our Passports and vaccination cards and that was it! An orange sticker dot was placed on our boarding pass and off we went to the Club for a few hours before our flight.

When we went to the Gate for boarding, we did hear an announcement about the orange sticker and something about a OK so we got up, got in line and began to wait. Another person in line told us that if we had the orange sticker we were good so we went and sat back down. Within a few minutes our names were called to approach the counter - they needed our Passports again and marked our stickers with "OK" and that was it.

Upon boarding we had to have our Passports one last time, which is typical for Internation flights.

To re-enter the United States, you must have a COVID test 72-hours prior to boarding the flight so make sure you don't do it too early! Our flight was 11:15am on Oct 9 so our COVID tests were set for Oct 7 at 6pm, allowing 24-hours to receive our tests and plenty of time should we have issues and need to contact the company to retrieve our results. I chose the PCR test, though the rapid antigen was allowed for our return. I wanted the more accurate test despite it taking longer and costing more.

We chose Randox, setup at a downtown Dublin hotel. The appointment was setup and paid for before we left home so all we needed to do was bring our Order #/receipt to have a test # assigned and given. Within an hour we received an email with our Test # and that the sample was logged, ensuring our emails were coming through and not blocked as SPAM. We received an email that the test was received at the lab and the next day we received the results - Negative!

The VeriFly app was not working for our remaining tour of Dublin so we went to the airport a bit early, anticipating a little more work on our part to show our test results. There were only a few people in line but it moved quickly. We turned over our Passports and showed the test results on our phones, though the representative didn't look closely to ensure it was 72-hours prior or that it was negative - it was a quick glance and she placed a form in front of us to sign, indicating we did take a test and check the box that it was negative. Essentially this is an honor system and we were signing a legal document that we did what we were required to do.

That was it -- checked-in and ready to go!

US Customes Pre-Clearance takes part in Ireland therefore we went through security again as well as Passport Control. The only difference here is that you don't need to hand over a form indicating how much you purchased while abroad; you are simply asked if you purchased more than the $800 allowance and that was it.

Overall, the experience was a bit over-hyped and turned out to be much easier than anticipated. A hiccup in the beginning with the orange dot and Passport check at the counter but easily remedied.

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