“My bags are packed and I’m ready to go . . . ” that old song is rolling through my head. My bags are packed and I’m ready to go. Yet, this time is different.
Like many of you, this is my first airline trip since the Covid lockdown. A year ago, my husband and I were leading a photo/birding tour through Costa Rica. When we left the United States there were only one or two cases in our city. The cases increased and big events started to be cancelled. On March 15, 2020 when we flew back to the US, grocery store shelves were empty and people were scared.
A year later we are masked, used to social distancing, and many of us vaccinated. Costa Rica, Mexico, and a few other countries are opening to travelers.
What does it take to travel in March 2021?
Covid testing to re-enter the United States — the rule at this time is that travelers to the US have to show negative on a Covid administered “no more than three days” from the return flight. That means Strabo Tours, the company coordinating all my international trips, had to arrange to have a laboratory technician meet us at our hotel. Many hotels now offer this as a service to their guests.
Negative Covid test to check-in for return flight — The results of our Covid test will be emailed to us. Those emailed test results are entered into the United Airlines app. Yes, there’s now a place for that on the app. People without a smart phone or the United app will show the results to the airline agents.
Certification on the United check-in app that I have no symptoms — The United Airlines app has a place where I have to certify I’m symptom free. That information goes into my travel records. No smart phone? You’d have to verbally do this at the check-in desk.
Acknowledgment of the federal mask mandate — This is also on the United Airlines app. The questions include acknowledging that my mask isn’t a bandana or gater, that my mask doesn’t have any gaps, and that I’ll wear it all the time. I am allowed to lower or raise the mask while sipping liquid or taking a bit of food.
All our paperwork has to be shown to the agent at check-in. That means we can’t get our boarding passes in advance.
Getting Into The Host Country?
My trip is to Costa Rica so that’s the only experience I have right now.
Costa Rica Trip Insurance — Each person has to buy trip insurance from an approved Costa Rican company. We bought the trip insurance months ago. The questions and request for documents were quick and easy. Price was $216 for two people for 10 days. It’s a bit more for seniors and there are family packages.
The insurance provides us with 10-days in a hotel if we test positive for Covid while in the country. The insurance company takes care of getting us to a hotel, etc. Two negative Covid tests in 10-days are needed to get out of quarantine and back on a flight home.
We have to show that insurance certificate when we enter Costa Rica.
Costa Rican Health Pass — 48 hours before departure we have to log-on to a Costa Rican Health Department site and complete a questionnaire. That included the basic questions we are used to — coughing, fever, contact with anyone with Covid, vaccinated, etc. Then we have to add our trip insurance ID number. That gives us a health pass that we present when we leave the US and when we enter Costa Rica.
Is that song rolling through your head?
Did my opening line get that song stuck in your head. “Leaving on a Jet Plane” was written by John Denver. Click the link to hear his version.
Peter, Paul, and Mary sang a lovely version. Click this link to hear their rendition.
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