We love our readers and one of them, despite reaching out in advance of his trip and being advised not to proceed, chose to fly anyway. Here was his experience with COVID-19 ravaged Europe.
If you are considering booking travel or signing up for a new credit card please click here. Both support LiveAndLetsFly.com.
If you haven’t followed us on Facebook or Instagram, add us today.
Ill-Advised Trip, But Went Anyway
A LiveAndLetsFly.com reader, Henry, reached out before he booked a trip to see his significant other who resides in Europe. She studies in Paris but her family has a home in Italy. They hadn’t seen each other in quite some time due to coronavirus and they didn’t want to wait any longer.
I advised Henry that Paris would likely not allow him entry even if the airline allowed him to fly. He purchased a ticket through Alitalia for a flight from New York JFK to Paris CDG before connecting on to Rome FCO with Alitalia. At check-in, Air France, who operated the flight, would not ticket him at the airport.
An Alitalia rep was called over but also could not help. Henry was given the use of his ticket as eligible for a future booking in lieu of a refund or nothing; a generous gesture by all accounts.
He created a video of his trip:
Dublin Is Open, But Not Really
Henry had read (elsewhere) that Ireland was open. Based on what I had found, there were few restrictions for visitors to Ireland. Even the US State Department is scant on critical details. Here’s what the Department of State says about travel to Ireland given the coronavirus outbreak:
“Irish Health authorities require anyone entering Ireland from abroad, except Northern Ireland, to either self-quarantine or self-isolate on arrival for 14 days. Exemptions are in place for essential supply chain service providers such as haulers, pilots, and maritime staff. Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. There are no restrictions on flights from the United States to Ireland although the number of available flights is significantly diminished. Aer Lingus is the only carrier flying to the United States from Ireland, with limited service from Dublin to Boston, Chicago, and New York. Ireland has implemented travel restrictions for individuals entering from China, Iran, Italy, and Spain. Health Service Executive (HSE) staff are present in at the Dublin and Shannon airports to assist arriving passengers who have concerns related to COVID-19. If you are in Ireland and have symptoms, phone a doctor or dial 112 or 999 locally. If someone tests positive for the virus, the Department of Health (DOH) will isolate and treat the individual.”
Self-quarantining is the only notable restriction, one that Henry didn’t have a problem adhering to. What’s not stated is that hotels will not be able to welcome guests without essential worker documentation.
That’s a key distinction and one that should be included in any notices about the trip. For someone who wants to see their significant other and has no problem with self-isolating or returning home prior to the isolation period expiry shouldn’t have any issue according to this description.
As suspected, streets were barren, and restaurants closed.
Mixed-Feelings in Ireland
Some were appalled by Henry’s very presence in Ireland, others were not. His initial customs and immigration agent was shocked and disapproving, “You know you’re mad” and that he was “endangering” lives. Her supervisor was more critical solely of the experience once in Ireland, confirming that he understood no restaurants, pubs or shops would be open.
Once in the country, however, some were “uninviting” while others rolled their eyes at the precautions that have been put in place. One person mocked the mask as a farce, for hotel management, hesitation was due to a matter of paperwork.
For the avoidance of doubt, no one, including immigration staff nor airline employees, knew of the essential worker paperwork requirement. This was not revealed when booking the hotel, only upon checking in at the desk.
Advice to Other Travellers
Henry advises to wait a little longer and I can understand and agree. Things are opening up regionally (amongst European countries), but globally countries aren’t ready for travel just yet. His optimistic guess is that things will improve in the next three to four weeks.
While Ireland is not ready for tourists just yet, other countries have indicated they are. The US Department of State has a caveat that requirements and conditions change rapidly, but also issued details about who has clearance to move about the country.
None of the travel providers, Hotels.com that sold the hotel, Aer Lingus that sold the ticket, nor the Department of State mentioned the “essential worker” paperwork required. That could have been executed better. While his trip was ill-advised, he is self-effacing that he was trying to find a work-around to restrictions for France and Italy to see his girlfriend. I’ll always give credit to someone who owns their actions, especially if they are a reader. Thank you to Henry for letting us join him on his trip.
What do you think? Would you take a similar trip if you were in the same situation? Do the travel companies have any responsibility to communicate possible impediments to one’s trip?
You say the essential worker restriction wasn’t mentioned until check-in, but you don’t actually say whether Henry was able to check in, or if not, what he did for shelter.
Furthermore I don’t think people should rely on ITAs, airlines or even Liveandletsfly.com for advice on whether travel is allowed. Laws and rules can change at any time. People should do their own research. The internet had made official sources of info accessible to all. For those who want a higher degree of comfort, they should pay for a travel agent who will keep up on the ever changing entry requirements.
He was unable to stay unless he could produce essential worker documentation. He returned the same day and you should check out his video for a more complete view of the trip.
This sucks 🙁 but also not surprising. I wonder if he will propose to her? Seems like they would have let him in Rome if she was his wife!
I understand three months of not seeing each other may seem a very very long time, but when comparing it to military deployments that normally take 6-8 months, now he knows what it might be like to be a military spouse! Hope they meet each other again at some point.
Also, did he use miles for all this trip or $$$?
One has to wonder how this “I want what I want and I want it NOW” generation would react to a situation such as WW2, when hostilities put an end to international pleasure travel for over 5 years. Now, after just a few months of staying at home, would-be travelers act as if it’s their God-given right to get on a plane. How spoiled we are.
During the Second World War, a late Swedish relative of mine traveled on what was at least one leisure trip to and from the U.K. Being from at least nominally neutral Sweden and being a woman may have helped her to go around and between continental Europe and the U.K.
WW2 interrupted a lot of international romantic relationships due to travel hassles, but some still took place with cross-border visits.
As a European I sometimes feel like Americans expect to wave their passport like a magic wand and closed doors will simply jump open… Truth be told I would call the US a Covid-19 hotspot and the word „ravaged“ comes to mind looking at the death rates there, rather than Europe (100k in America, I mean seriously). I would rather not have Americans jumping about in Europe – be it for romantic reasons or not – given how incapable they seem to adhere to basic rules like wearing a mask or social distancing. The response of Europe to the pandemic seems much more consistent and based on scientific facts – so if you come from a place with rampant infection rates, low testing capability and shoddy health system (such as the US), maybe do us all a favor and just stay home! I’m sure your girlfriend will be happy to know you are capable of being a responsible adult.
@Ben – Maybe some feel they can wave their passport and doors will open, but remember that the majority of Americans don’t even have passports and those that do rarely use them outside of Canada/Mexico and the Caribbean.
But the title is “ill-advised” and had they been coming from Europe to the US, I may have used the same word “ravaged” for the US too. In all fairness, Europe still far exceeds the US in COVID-19 deaths and the US number is dubious certainly. There are more deaths in the UK, Italy, Spain, and France alone than the whole of the United States.
I like your writing, but you’re in denial. Tiny U.S. states have more new cases every day now than big EU countries. Our situation is not good. Yes, more people died in the EU than the U.S., but the U.S. may soon eclipse the EU’s death toll — I hope it doesn’t, but we’ll see. And, regardless of past deaths, the EU epidemic is now mostly under control. For example, Italy’s new daily number of cases (about 200/day) — for a country of 60 million — is generally far lower than much smaller U.S. states. We all want to travel, but ignoring the public health situation in the U.S. won’t help.
Tell you what Ben, if the hundreds of thousands of unmasked protesters in the US drop dead of COVID in the next say 10-15 days, people might start to take it more seriously. Since there is absolutely zero chance of that happening, perhaps the rest of the world will see this for what it is. Ridiculous.
So did he explore his options getting to Italy from Ireland? Would Italy have allowed him in coming from Dublin or same problem?
Legally, it seemed he wouldn’t have been permitted. The goal at that point would have been to arrive on a flight that would have not seen customs and immigration, certainly possible within Schengen-area. However, I believe he was exhausted and didn’t want to push the envelope beyond what he already had.
So if he was within the Schengen area, he wouldn’t have encountered any immigration flying Dublin to Rome. My point was that it seems like he did the hard part (entering the EU), and he could have easily entered Italy to quarantine there with his lady friend.
Intra-Schengen flights are now essentially landing in non-Schengen areas in many countries. Fly LIS-FRA and you won’t land in the A Gates, you’ll land in the B or Z gates.
Right, but I thought Italy had already reopened its borders with Europe on June 3. Maybe this trip occurred before then though.
Ireland is not part of the Schengen Area, so travelers from Ireland must pass passport control upon entering the Schengen Area (Iceland/Continental Europe). Even if he had been able to fly from Ireland to Italy, he would have been deported in Italy.
Exactly. How was he planning to get from Dublin into the Schengen Area?
I thought I was going crazy reading all these comments above that seem to suggest Ireland is in Schengen…
I think a lot of people confuse EU membership with Schengen membership. While most EU nations are Schengen, Ireland has opted-out (because of the CTA with the UK). Cyprus, while also EU, stays out of Schengen due to the the Turkish issue.
Conversely, there are non-EU members who are Schengen, like Switzerland and Norway.
It’s really important, especially now, for people to remember that EU membership does not equal Schengen membership.
So it appears that you didn’t grasp the point of my comment. Twice in the above article you refer to “Itlay” (sic) rather than Italy. Getting the same typo twice is at least consistent.
Trying to get around the rules meant to stop the spread of COVID is obnoxious and self-centered. It seems like he acknowledges that a little. Yes, it does make him the *sshole. Glad he was able to make it home safely and I appreciate his willingness to share his story. Maybe it will deter others from trying the same thing.
We have really entered a grey area as to when, what, and how. As well, the perceptions of what is possible by others across the pond.
While I am not planning or doing any “fun” travel overseas the next months I still have a business to run. My clients in Vienna are all “back to normal” and sending instagram photos of cafe life and dinners together. With that comes the pressure that a deal I started in January be completed. Meaning I need to go there. They are telling me to come and all is totally good there and no reason not to finish our work (which can’t be done in Zoom etc).
So I booked a flight on July 2nd from IAD to VIE. I did so knowing that I will have to show a negative test within the previous four days or take a test there at the airport on arrival. I am fine with that. But still, this makes me wonder more about what the reactions will be and if there will be issues. As well, I booked my room at the Park Hyatt and there was no warning or disclaimer that I saw.
There is no sense to this as to what to expect. And this video confirms it a bit for me. We will see.
The EU non-essential travel ban for non-EU citizens has been extended until July 1st from June 15th. I hope you will be able to travel on July 2nd. It’s possible, but if the epidemic becomes worse in the U.S., it’s possible you may be denied admission and not even given the chance to present a coroanvirus test in Vienna. Hoping for the best for you!
What an absolute jackass.
Okay, I just watched the video and this guy is a jerk. He thinks he’s entitled “safely and responsibly” travel wherever he wants. It’s brazenly obvious that Ireland is not open to tourism or leisure travel, but he claims he was misled? What? He reminds me of this girl I met in Sarajevo who tried to argue she should be allowed to stay in the Schengen Area longer than 90 days, because Europe needs her money and she’s American. Sorry, doesn’t work that way.
Is what this guy did a bigger transmission risk than the protesters who march for social justice in very large gatherings, often without any PPE?
There’s a certain arrogance among Americans (and dual passport Brits) who think the rules don’t apply to them…residing as they do in the countries with the least effective controls on the spread of COVID. No other country wants them in their countries until the US and UK have come to grips and reduced outbreaks considerably. Arrogance and stupidity!
And he can’t even wear his mask properly…cover your f’ing nose!
Agreed, that’s why the UK has now introduced a quarantine for new arrivals, about three months too late. It’s to cover the fact most EU countries won’t let UK arrivals in.
Italy has dropped all travel restrictions on EU and Schengen countries as well as the UK.
Sorry, but this guy is an idiot. There’s a killer virus going around, even if you escape with mild symptoms, think of those you could infect who won’t get off so lightly.
You could have waited another few months to see your girlfriend.
The guy was an idiot. I have flown across the Atlantic three times in the past two weeks without any problems. He could have met his girlfriend in the UK, which had virtually no restrictions on air travel until June 8. I will be flying to Italy at the end of the month. Unless JDS is a boomer, obese or immunocompromised, he is also an idiot. The odds of dying from COVID-19 for a healthy young person (Henry doesn’t look too old) are lower than those of dying from choking on food. If someone is in a vulnerable population, he should be staying at home and not demanding that the global economy be shut down for his safety.
Please don’t call me idiot. It’s a killer virus. If you’re over 60 or you have an underlying condition, your odds of survival plummet. Yes, Henry might not have been affected, but what about anyone he could come in contact with? He might have returned from his trip and straight away went to visit his 80 year grandmother. Henry might have an undiagnosed heart condition. His 30 year old best friend might have some underlying condition he doesn’t know about. It’s not a time for people to go on “adventures.”
Don’t call people names just because you don’t agree with them.
I will call people idiots if they think they can tell others how to behave when they can remove the risk for themselves without infringing upon the freedoms of others. If you think that the virus is so deadly that you want to wet your bed at home until there is a vaccine for it (there is no guarantee there will be), you are free to stay at home. Problem solved! Please note that I qualified my statement with caveats for vulnerabilities. You demonstrated through your thought process that you are, indeed, an idiot. If Henry chose to see his grandmother without taking proper precautions, he is an idiot. If he or his friend had an undiagnosed heart condition, any number of things could kill them. You realize that there have been deadly diseases like the flu circulating in society forever, don’t you? And tens of thousands of Americans die from the flu every year. Why don’t you demand a lockdown for them? Why did you never wear a mask? Clearly people were infecting others with the flu. The risks for healthy people of dying of the flu are miniscule and do not warrant the measures put in place, and the same applies for COVID-19. The irony with COVID-19 is that the vulnerable were not only not protected, they were actively exposed to the virus by orders like Cuomo’s that nursing homes take in patients with COVID-19. This exacerbated the problem and scared the public into thinking that they were equally at risk. The only people who might have a right to tell people to stay at home are the front line care workers, but even then, potential COVID-19 deaths are dwarfed by the health care burden resulting from metabolic diseases that are largely due to (mis)behavior by the patients. Why aren’t you locking up the obese so they can’t get any more food to shove down their gullets? I am not saying we shouldn’t mitigate the risks. If everyone had been told to wear masks from the start, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Closing borders doesn’t do much good when the virus is already spreading within the community. Concentrate on the nursing homes, warehouses and slaughterhouses. People shouldn’t be eating meat anyway. We get what we deserve. Oh, and it’s not just about seeing girlfriends. It’s about preserving people’s livelihoods and ways of life. Safetyism needs to die.
Ok about a year later:
1) vaccines came out
2) tens of thousands dying of the flu does not equate to hundreds of thousands dying of covid (back then there was a “not even worse than the flu” idea going around). More people died of flu than covid so far (so far being the key to that one, just look at today)
3) NY cover up on nursing home numbers is out. Any didn’t want to release numbers because it would look bad. Not a good way to run the state and definitely a model of what not to do.
4) covid overtook heart disease as the #1 killer in USA
5) covid has spread despite national border closures.
I’d say your post was about 50% correct, but I disagree with the implication (I think it was covid measures are not worth it)
The natural untreated survival rate was somewhere around 97%, if I remember right. 3% of USA dying equals (assuming 300 million people) is somewhere at 9 million dead after burning through the entire US population.
Hospitals with treatment bump survivability up a lot, and social distancing, measures, ect slow the spread enough for hospitals to cope with patient inflow, so overall it’s even better. Currently, US mortality is 1.7% (if it burned through the us population), that would be roughly 5.1 million dead instead of 9 million.
The vaccine pushes mortality even further away (praying we don’t get a super mutant or vaccine resistant strain). Current mortality rates among the vaccinated are roughly in the 0.2% range (very early still for this number and it can change). For the sake of argument and illustration, call it 600,000 dead after burning through the entire pop.
This is the cost/benefit analysis – you say it’s not worth implementing, others might disagree. The point of covid measures are to “flatten the curve” until a vaccine is fully implemented and allow hospitals to manage current cases. Vaccines won’t eliminate covid, we do have to learn to live with it, but they bring us to it being a manageable disease. Something like polio – serious, get a vaccine for it, but largely controlled and the world goes back to normal and save some millions of lives in the process, even if it is just to let 8 million mostly elderly, immunocompromised, or a small number of unlucky healthy people live for 1, 5, or 10 more years.
Last note, even as these numbers and rates change, I bet you a beer the trends I laid out hold true. You’re right that covid is not a Boogeyman that everyone should fear and risks aren’t the same across the board. No use in hysterically browbeating covid or inflating its danger, that’s counterproductive and breeds vaccine hesitancy (aka covid is fake, over exaggerated ect). Honestly talking about it shows how bad it is. Its already bad enough as a disease. I’d say pushing mortality rate down is worth the covid measures, even if we are starting at a 97% survival rate in the US.