4 days, 5 flights, 700 USD for C19 tests
After a year at sea, we are travelling back to Europe together for the first time on Sunday. At least we’re trying to. It’s time to see family and friends in Luxembourg and Germany again.
For those of you who still have hazy memories of travelling before Corona, let’s keep those wonderful memories wistful. Travelling in 2021 is quite different. The bureaucratic villains have taken complete and senseless control. All without guarantee.
We just want to get from Grenada to Frankfurt. For that we will be on the road (and in the air) for 4 days, having 5 flights. And if that’s not crazy enough: we also need a C19 test for (almost) every flight, although we are vaccinated and 4 of the 5 flights are only transit. And that for an additional 700 USD just in testing costs for this trip only.
Planning our trip probably took our dear Uli Fichtenberg (our travel agent for many years) weeks of his life. For us, too, of course, and a small fortune at that, because the travel costs exploded and the additional expenses were remarkable.
A few details?
Normally there are connections from Grenada to Toronto, Miami, New York and London. Canada is closed, the US is petulant for foreigners and if you come in for transit, the flights are twice as expensive as the already expensive flights via the UK. London Immigration and British Airways are just very English who don’t care what they announced or published contradictory yesterday.
We briefly had a direct Grenada-London flight that was cancelled again. Popped up again and was cancelled again. We didn’t want gambling, we wanted safe flights. So Uli booked us Grenada-St. Vincent-Barbados-Antigua. In Antigua we have to wait three days until the next flight goes to London. From there to Frankfurt. A bit tedious, but ok. There are worse things than a stop-over in Antigua.
Then comes the hour of the bureaucrats, especially in London. But first things first. For the transit in Barbados (no entry, only change of plane) we need a max. 72 hours old, rather useless PCR test, only for the transit. We get the test in Grenada for 300 USD and with great difficulty we were able to arrange a test appointment. No test, no onward journey. No choice. At least this PCR test is still good for Antigua for entry, presumably.
Next we need a test for the transit in London (no entry, just change planes), made in Antigua. Antigua only does this in a hospital for 400 USD or in a hotel for 550 USD and again – you have no choice. However, the test only works with a prior registration with a week off, which is not possible for us in terms of time. In addition, we know from other sailors that Antigua “loses” tests sometimes.
So I tried to make it clear to the British that we would not be able to get a PCR test in time. And besides, all British rules are supposed to fall on July19. And all this just for transit? Fully vaccinated? I offered not to breathe during my time in London either. But bureaucrats are just like that and apparently very averse to common sense. That was all my problem, they said.
No, the ticket I had just bought, with no reference to transit tests, would not be refunded if we did not get a PCR test done. I should read the terms and conditions. We found plenty of contradictions on the British websites, but what do the bureaucrats care if they publish nonsense. The terms and conditions are certainly not contradictory. Uli was then able to negotiate them down to an antigen test. We should be able to do that.
And then add the ex-Euro Cup with the rising C19 cases on the island, which will probably have an impact on entry into Germany. If we didn’t still have the old German passports in the drawer, we probably wouldn’t even be allowed to fly from London to Germany as Luxembourgers. But we didn’t have time to check that too. Now we have the entry stamps in Grenada in a different passport than when we left. Hopefully not the next challenge.
And then a little twist so we don’t relax. British Airways decided to postpone the connecting flight from London to Frankfurt. Not timed, but from Heathrow to City, to a different airport. We would then have had to leave the airport and transit and in a worst case scenario even go into quarantine (unclear). Fortunately, Uli was able to get the flight off BA again and rebook it for Lufthansa. Without changing airports, so still in transit.
Then a few minor details, that our return flight was postponed by 2 days. And our departure time in Grenada was changed from 10.10 am to 9.00 am – of course, without any information to us. Oh yes, and for Barbados, London and Frankfurt we have to fill out separate entry documents, each with a narrow time window. We happen to have internet everywhere, but that is not normal for sailors. Without the internet, you can’t travel at all.
Unfortunately, we are not an isolated case. Turkish friends want to go from Grenada to Istanbul. Because their visas have expired and the embassies have been closed for a year, they fly Grenada-St. Vincent-Antigua-Panama-Istanbul. Not bad either. Why the hell are the embassies closed? They’re always behind glass anyway.
Well, here we are on our boat, which will soon have to do without us for five weeks. I’m not sure if the unwillingness of the bureaucrats is a C19 side effect or has just always been at this high level. Oh it would be nice if one fine day the administrators of this world were actually there for the people instead of making our lives miserable.
If you don’t read anything from us in the next few weeks or if we don’t keep our appointments with you, then we’ve disappeared somewhere. Probably buried in some transit zone. / Holger Binz