Last Saturday we were finally able to travel from The Netherlands to our beloved Karpathos again. A little different this time because of the corona virus of course. In this blog post we’ll tell you about our experience and what you can expect.
The most important information about traveling to Greece during corona
Before I tell you about our journey, I’d like to start with a few things that are important for you to know before travelling to Greece.
- Travelling from the Netherlands? At Schiphol you need a heath statement
- A face mask is required from the moment you step foot into an airport. You are allowed to take if off when eating or drinking, but that’s it
- People who travel to Greece need to fill in a PLF form online at least 24 hours before. The form gives you a QR code which they check at the airport in Greece
- Our airline to Athens (KLM) confirmed that we didn’t have to be checked for COVID-19 since we had a stopover for a short time
- Everyone who gets tested needs to stay at the (final) destination 24 hours in quarantine until the know the results. When you don’t have the virus you can just do your thing. If you get tested positive you need to stay in quarantine for 14 days
I have to say that we had two good flights that we were very happy about. Everything was fine. Before travelling I was a little stressed, not because of the virus, but more because everything is different and you don’t know what to expect etc. Fortunate I have Vincent who is always so calm and doesn’t stress at all like I do.
Everything was pretty normal here. People try the have distance from you as much as possible and of course everyone is wearing face masks. It was not very busy, but not a quiet airport scene either. I was amazed by how many people still flying! We were lucky that Vincent has a silver card with KLM and we were flying with them to Athens so he could check us in with priority. But also the regular line for KLM wasn’t that busy.
Because it was quiet and we flew within Europe we were able to go through the new security at Schiphol. Which is great because you don’t have to take out anything form your bags such as laptops and cameras.
At the airport all shops are open. We went to Starbucks for a delicious coffee (you are allowed to take the mask for during the time you’re enjoying your drink) and when to the gate after that. This was the moment it got a little hectic. We had quit a lot people on board who didn’t fill in the PLF form, didn’t speak English and were screaming to enter the airplane. We didn’t really know if they could fill in the form still at that time (because as I mentioned you need to fill it in at least 24 hours before your flight), but after a delay of 45 minutes they were allowed to enter the airplane.
We had a full flight with I guess around +/- 200 people. On the plane itself you always get something to eat and drink at KLM, this is still the case, but it is now slightly different with less choice. Everyone gets a package with a sandwich, biscuit and water and you can also have a cup of coffee, water of your choice.
In addition, you keep your mouth mask on during the flight unless you eat and drink something you are asked not to create a whole row in the aisle at the toilet, but even to wait for your seat.
We found the trip relaxed. Yes it is a bit crazy with a mask on, but it doesn’t feel any different than usual.
A transfer at Athens
We had already received some information from our airline about the switch in advance. They indicated that you would not be tested on Athens if you had a direct transfer. Still, it is always a bit tensive whether or not this happened. If this had been the case, we would have had to be quarantined for 24 hours anyway to wait for the results. And it is not entirely clear whether this is in Athens (after all, you test there) or whether you can fly on to Karpathos in our case and wait for the test there. We hear the latter from many people. Which is strange since you fly on and get on a plane with people again, but the government will not have determined this just like that.
When you get off your plane on Athens you must immediately have your QR code at hand. With us they saw the transfer, so we were allowed to leave the queue to go to the exit. The rest had to remain. They were tested randomly.
Our first flight was with KLM and the 2nd to Karpathos with Olympic Air, so our suitcases were not automatically transferred to the next flight. So we had to pick up our luggage in Athens and then check in again. All this went fast and fine. On Athens we had a nice meal and then to our gate. This flight was a lot quieter than the flight to Athens. We were on the plane with about 30 people and everyone had a line to themselves.
Karpathos is a short 45 minute flight so we were there in a minute. It is also possible that you will be tested on Karpathos, but here too we were not chosen to test.
As a result, we were able to go straight to our house and eat out that evening, because we did not have to wait for test results or the like.
Although a face mask is not that bad for max 4-5 hours, we were fed up after 12 hours of non-stop travel. We were happy when he got off as soon as we left Karpathos airport.
About the corona tests in Greece
We have not been tested ourselves, so we cannot tell you all about it. We understand that (in contrast to the Netherlands) the tests are carried out by mouth. This causes quite a few gagging, but is not as bad as through the nose. There is approximately a 70% chance that you will be tested.
Those who are selected for testing seem to depend on the PLF form. Depending on the answer to a number of questions you will end up in a kind of box, that’s how you should see it. The computer then selects random people from this ‘box’ to test.