We flew out of GSP, a small and friendly airport with easy check-in. In order to fly to Italy in the age of COVID-19, we were required to take a rapid COVID test within 24 hours of departure. Delta lists sites one can order tests for monitoring online, and we used these. Order these tests well in advance of your trip, as there are sometimes delays in shipping and the demand for these tests is considerable. When we went to Italy in the fall to find an apartment, we went to an urgent care center and got a test (our insurance covered this test) because of how long it took the online test packets to arrive; for this trip already having the tests was an advantage. With omicron, we spent two weeks avoiding people and stores as much as possible, so the home test was helpful. Online tests take about 20 minutes to complete and can be done using your phone, tablet or computer as long as the camera is operating. The results are emailed for a print out. The online test through the Delta link costs money, but soon they might be available free under the federal test availability initiative.
Prior to your flight, it is also necessary to complete and bring with you a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) for the EU. Check your airline for a link to complete this form. At the last trip Delta collected these for EU border control – this time when we arrived in Atlanta no one asked for them, and border control did not look for them. Have them ready anyway, just in case.
Check-in needs to be in person, not online, for international flights for examination of your test results. We wanted to check in the day before our flight, in case there were any hiccups with the test documents and we would need to use the urgent care center again. As we were checking baggage for this trip, we just went early (for GSP). While check-in was not quick, there were no problems.
We had a little over a one-hour layover in Atlanta. We found that going to the gate as soon as arriving from GSP is desirable as there can be a long line of people checking into the gate (COVID tests and fever checks), before being rechecked at boarding time. For this trip, check in was less complicated compared to the first time. There was a considerable number of people already waiting there, so we only had to show our passport and do a fever check. No one asked to see our vaccination card or COVID test results.
It is a relief to make it to the seat. We paid for better seats with more legroom for this trip, as well as to be seated a bit earlier. It is an additional relief when the door to the plane closes and the plane starts to move to the runway. Now we can think we are finally on our way. This flight is a bit over 9 hours. We will be in Rome at 11:00 am, Rome time. After dinner, we try to sleep – our doctor prescribed Ambien to help us sleep. Sleeping also seems to reduce the sense of jet lag. Waking up over Italy readies one for standing in line when going through border control and making one’s way to the hotel.
Our travel is in the midst of the COVID surge, in the US and Europe. Despite precautions, sitting in a relatively full plane is a bit daunting. When arriving in Italy, higher quality masks are required inside and out. Most people are compliant with the masks, but we did observe a few who were not. We also did not observe anyone enforcing the mask mandates on trains, in stations or in the hotel. We traveled on a train and bus on New Year’s Day so that crowds were light and social distancing was easily possible.