I am only posting this to show the realities of flying right now (Summer of 2020), I understand there are plenty of reasons it’s not ideal.
We had planned a long summer in the USA with my family which we usually see multiple times a year, but this was shortened and ultimately I am glad we made it as my parents are getting older and it had now already been a year. I don’t think I will be making the effort again until things are calmer or more organized in the USA but that’s another story.
We had booked our flights on Delta last year to travel this July, our flights were cancelled twice in May and at the time rates of infections were going down in France and NC so we decided to rebook and were put on KLM. As I was home watching the numbers go up I was really becoming uneasy and then the night before our flight my youngest daughter got a fever. Out of the blue. During these times you don’t fly with even a headache, so when I called KLM they were more than happy to delay our trip for two weeks to allow her to get better and get tested. We took her to the doctor and got her note to be tested for covid the next day, she was negative. I decided to get tested as well just to confirm, negative also. So we waited two more weeks and the night before the flight I was stressed again. My parents had been isolating and only going out for groceries and had been tested two weeks prior to see their new grandson. The only part that worried me was flying, but luckily I have always been a germaphobe and OCD about sickness so I felt secure about being able to keep us safe.
The airport in Bordeaux was empty, it was the end of July and what should have been an airport packed with travelers had only maybe two flights at the time I arrived. Masks were worn from this moment on. There was hand sanitizer everywhere and free covid testing at the entrance which took a day or two for results (still there but only open to those with boarding passes). So well organized. Security was spaced, everything felt fine until we came to the gate for the airplane from Bordeaux to Amsterdam…it was packed. Not a spare seat in view. All three of us were seated together and that was the one moment I wanted out and to go home.
Luckily, the airport in Amsterdam was equally empty and, the saving grace, our flight from Amsterdam to Dulles was empty. We each had a row to ourselves with empty rows between us and other passengers. We were served a meal and then given the best bag of snacks (way better than on the return flight!). KLM is amazing. We landed in Dulles and there couldn’t have been more than 40-50 people on the plane and we were the only people in customs. What has taken me two hours in the past took all of 20 minutes, including the health screening. They took our temps and asked questions, I showed our covid test results and we were on our way. My mother picked us up and let us in the car only after having us strip in the parking lot and put on new clothes.
The day after I landed, France notified Americans coming to France need to have a 72 hour covid test. I want to just say how HARD it was to find a place to get tested (I got tested about a week after arriving to make sure I didn’t catch something on the plane). Most places couldn’t give results for up to TEN days, those that were quicker charged up to 250 USD pp! I would highly recommend StarMed in North Carolina. They have multiple testing locations in the state and were able to get 72 hours turn around, for free. Here is the link (you have to do an online doctors visit before you can take the test).
When we went back to France, no one asked for the papers to confirm our covid status. This was a little bit annoying as we honestly spent days locating and getting our tests done, even though we had wanted to do it anyway. The return flight was very much the same, empty overseas and packed flight from Amsterdam to Bordeaux. My kids were amazing, at three and five years old they wore facemasks from the time we walked into the airport and time we left, only to remove them when eating. 18 hours of masks, no complaining. I was so proud of them.
Here are some pointers for traveling during covid :
Flights are still only allowed for US residents and citizens or direct family members of American citizens. My husband brought our Livret de Famillie and marriage certificate (it wasn’t translated into English at the consulate, which the US agent at the gate in Paris said it should have, been but the consulate in Paris has said it doesn’t need to be…so I cannot say either way).
Bring plenty of hand sanitizer (and carry with you everywhere in the USA, cashiers and stores don’t have them at counters like in France)
Bring enough surgical masks to change every four hours on plane and then some (there are some cute Dr.Talbots kids ones that actually fit my little head better)
Use a barrette or clip to attach masks to side of children’s heads so when they need to remove them to eat or drink they don’t fall
Bring antibacterial wipes to clean down all surfaces on airplane (these are hard to find in the USA as well)
Carry a change of clothes, you’ll want to get out of everything like you worked in a hospital after the flight tbh
We were unable to find any health insurance to cover us in case of covid infection in the USA, which was incredibly stressful. Many will not cover Americans coming back to the USA, however they would cover foreigners. Double check before purchasing!
If you are separated from your loved one during this time, there is a wonderful Facebook Group called Love is not Tourism with help and advice.
Side note, if you wanted to know the suitcase my daughters have – the ladybug is a Trunki which are amazing because the let little ones ride when they don’t want to walk anymore. The company also makes a backpack which turns into a booster seat for older kids. Great company and products for kids and travel!
Stay safe everyone!