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So you think you want to travel?

15 1 1
19.09.2021

My recent trip to the United States was probably personally the most important of my hundreds of flying adventures around the world. Flying used to be fun. Travel was enticing and exciting. A bit of spare time… a bit of excess cash… jump on a plan and head for destinations unknown.

For at least six months I had been anxious to attend our son’s wedding in Nashville. In the Corona climate and with most of our family in the United Kingdom and Los Angeles, the attendance response indicated a small but loving event. With my husband unable to travel due to age and health… I could not imagine our son marrying the love of his life without a parent by his side. It is hard to recall when I felt so compelled to be at a specific place and at a specific time.

From the time that the date of the wedding was set, it appeared that the odds of my arriving in the USA for the wedding were 50-50. It would depend on my husband’s health, the state of the Covid virus days before, and government decisions as to who could or could not travel. Reading the paper daily to look for signs of encouragement or concern became a ritual. Would the Israeli government allow flights to the U.S.? Would they allow citizens to return home? Would they require isolation upon return? If so, for how long? Would the United States allow entry? Would they require isolation upon arrival (which would have made attending the wedding impossible…). I opted for an insurance package in case of cancellation, as the odds were indeed not in my favor.

To have these questions looming would have been sufficient stress in and of itself. However, this was just the beginning. The need recieve a PCR test within 72 hours of departure had its own issues. The momentary delight upon discovering that I could go to a nearby mall to receive the test was shattered when I had complications filling in the online form on my telephone while standing in-line, balancing packages and trying to understand how the information was to be entered. The promised registration-confirmation message never arrived… the staff guaranteed that the computer had received my information and that all would be fine. There was no receipt to prove I had even taken the test. I photographed my name and bar-code from the nurse’s phone and also photographed the sign which offered twenty-four-hour service, a phone number and an email address for questions. Test done, I waited for the results to arrive. They did not. I thrice tried calling the 24/7 helpline. No one answered. I wrote an email. No response. Thirty-six hours before departure, I was in full panic mode and decided to take the train to Ben Gurion airport for an additional test. Their system was impeccable. Without results… my boarding the flights to and within the United States would be blocked…and no wedding for “moi.”

Pleased with myself, as I was sitting on the wonderful fast train to the airport, I noticed a message from my health care provider on my phone. They had been sent the results of my test and were informing me that I was indeed “negative.” This trip to the airport was unnecessary. When the train arrived at its destination, I crossed to the return tracks to wait for a train back to where I had begun this exercise in futility. Relief triumphed over aggravation.

The morning of departure, I was instructed to arrive at the airport four hours early. No problem… I can do that! With a flight at noon, arrival scheduled at eight, departure from my home at seven, waking up at five-thirty AM… ready, set ….go. Ah yes, one must remember to check-in online within 24 hours of departure. I was told …the last time that I forgot…that there would be a $100 fine if I neglected to do so. Dutifully, I went to the airline site, filled in all the blanks, only to receive a message that on-line check in is not currently possible because of the Covid documents required to be checked in person.

Ah yes, the departure form. Israel requires that a form be completed online within 24 hours of flight time. The government, based on one’s responses to questions posed, approves (or rejects) one’s right to board a plane for departure. No stress there. The response does come very quickly. This requirement went smoothly.

Arriving for check-in before 8 AM, I provided the information as required. My paperwork from Maccabi health-care read “This PCR not intended for international travel.” What the hell? Why would I go to a........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)


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