Italy had been welcoming tourists back to their country since May with no isolation required on arrival – subject to producing a negative Covid-19 test result in the 48 hours before arrival.
This is a great, however at our end in the UK it has been Amber on the Government’s Traffic Light system and therefore this means that to travel there would be difficult. We had obtained tickets for the Opening Ceremony of the Euro’s in Rome where Italy would play Turkey and we decided to complete the trip. Below is information as to how we found the travelling to Italy experience and hopefully some useful tips for anyone else currently considering heading to an Amber country.
First of all when travelling to Italy is the testing. You must produce negative Covid-19 tests and use recognised firms, paying for these private tests – you cannot use the Free NHS kits. We used a company called Qured who are partnered with Protected Trust Services, a week before the trip. The tests we needed for travel were guaranteed to arrive the next working day and they did. The tests cost in total £375 as follows:
Fit To Fly Test – £39
Return to UK Pre-Departure Test – £39
Day 2 and Day 8 Bundle after return Tests – £198
Day 5 Test to Release – £99 (optional)
The “Fit to fly” test was organised for the day before travelling to Italy and is a video appointment which you have to book on line. It was a simple case of clicking a link from their email which takes you into an virtual waiting room (you must be here ten minutes before your time slot). The doctor initiates your call and it is a simple case of following the instructions and then once complete setting a 15 minute timer. Once that time is up you send a photo of the testing cassette showing the result next to a photograph of your passport. Within an hour I had a notification that my result was ready and I was able to follow a further link to download my certificate of a negative result. This was all completed via my mobile and meant that I didn’t need to worry about talking a laptop on the trip. We were ready to fly! *Please note that in our situation the test had to be completed no longer than 48 hours before the trip and this will vary country to country.
Stansted Airport Experience
At the airport, Gate 48 was nominated by Ryan Air in the app 130 minutes before the flight was due to depart, well in advance of Stansted Airport announcing this on their information boards. It made the walk to the gate quite eerily isolated as you can see on the footage we recorded here.
Arriving early at the gate allowed time to panic whether all the documentation for Covid test results and declaration forms were complete, correct and in place. After two scrambles through the paperwork I assured myself that everything was present and correct.
The Ryanair crew at the gate were extremely helpful, asking everyone if they had the documents needed for entry into Italy, and then helping those who didn’t, or had questions. Maybe such customer service isn’t always associated with the economy airline but in my opinion they dealt with this proactively and with intent to help.
Two days before departure when looking into all the detail for the trip, I discovered that surgical facemasks were required for the flight so picked up a box of 50 via Amazon Prime. Indeed, as the gate opened the first thing which happened was the attendants asking if I had a surgical facemask (instead of the Dynamo Dresden cloth mask I was wearing). First obstacle overcome.
On the flight there were just 33 passengers, of which 32 of us seemed to have purchased Priority Boarding. In all reality the service really is now just ensuring two cabin bags rather than any earlier access to your seat – that suits me. All passengers were seated independently, many on private rows, and everyone followed the facemask rule making us feel very comfortable with the surroundings.
The flight would take 2 hours and 10 minutes and during this time all of the travel routines I had forgotten came flooding back – the Ryanair charity scratch-cards, the words “take orf” being voiced during the safety announcements and the sound of the landing gear being tucked away shortly after take off, sorry, take orf!
Rome Ciampino Airport Experience
Upon arriving at Rome Ciampino and walking into the arrivals, it felt like going into an exam. My stomach was turning as I hoped that my paperwork was completed satisfactorily and that I had researched what was required correctly. We need not have been concerned. The Priority Boarding and second row seat meant that I was straight to the passport desk and after a simple check and I was ushered through. Ahead of me though was a relatively short queue of about 30 people where some form of checks were taking place as expected. With a queue growing the decision was made to just allow everyone through, asking a few people “Covid result?” and with no more than a nod or wave of the wrong piece of paper we were shepherded out of the airport quicker than anyone predicted. There was no scanning of our Passenger Locator Form or request to even view it and no checks for a negative Covid test.
On the day of our trip home, we received notifications that our Day 2 and Day 8 tests at home had been delivered which meant everything was on schedule, in fact the Day 5 Early release test had also been delivered in advance.
The return flight was different. On departure from Rome Ciampino Airport the Ryanair staff were robust in their checks at the gate, both checking the Covid-19 Negative certificate and the Passenger Locator Form for entry into the UK (this must be completed not before 48 hours ahead of your arrival in the UK). The challenge was passed and entry to the bus to take us to the plane was granted. Some passengers at the gate never joined us on the plane and demonstrated the importance of completing the documents correctly.
Arrival in the UK
On arrival at Stansted it was straight forward. We were asked to provide our Passport and Passenger Locator Form which was briefly inspected before waving us through. The date you arrive in the UK is classified as Day Zero of your isolation. We are now into Day 2 of isolating at home – today we completed the Day 2 test and posted it as instructed to a Priority Postbox. Our aim is to next complete a further Day 5 Optional Early Release Test…
It is natural to fear travelling at the moment with the traffic light system which changes quickly. On reflection when travelling to Italy we found that the airlines, the staff and the border control on both sides really were looking to assist passengers, but you do need to do your research and follows procedures. Following this experience we would be very comfortable doing so again.
Surgical Facemasks for the flight
Covid-19 tests as listed above. Check validity period.
EU Digital Passenger Locator Form (dPLF) for arrival in the country you are visiting
Self Declaration Form for arrival in the country you are visiting (country dependent)
UK Passenger Locator Form (to be completed not before 48 hours before you travel back to the UK)
Please be aware that this is just our feedback of a personal trip and others may experience different situations. Also please note that the traffic light system and what you need to do will continually change so you should do your own research before you travel. This trip was for a football match, if you would like to understand the football packages we offer please visit our main website here.