a cliff with buildings on it

Greetings from Santorini, Greece where I’m happy to confirm the water is still blue, the views are still stunning, the wine is outstanding. And without 10,000 cruise tourists per day, it’s more worthwhile than ever to explore this photogenic summer favorite. After years of over tourism, people seem genuinely happy to see visitors.

If you’ve been to Santorini in recent years, you’d be forgiven for being skeptical about a smooth arrival into this little airport, but it’s true. Greece is taking the appropriate steps needed to curb covid-19, at least here and it all starts long before your arrival.

The process is almost flawless, but there are a few things worth noting, if you’re making the trip…

Update: this article details a wonderful trip in 2020. For the latest on travel to Santorini in 2021, please check out this article. For information on vaccination proof or European travel restrictions, head here. If you want to read about the experience from that year, which differs from restrictions today, read on!

a cliff with buildings on it

The Journey

Travel in these unprecedented times comes with enough added stress, but to make sure I didn’t miss out on any, this was our first trip with our 6 month old infant, Olive.

After news reports of frustration with complicated Greek entry forms, including the passenger locator form (PLF) and the need to have a barcode, which is delivered the night before your departure, much research went into the experience, beforehand which certainly helps.

Clarifying The Greek PLF Form

The first sign a form is somewhat confusing, is when you hear about it all the time. Is it one per family, one per adult, how do you add other people? These are the questions, and the answer is simple.

You only need one Greek Passenger Locator Form (PLF) per family, and in fact you must tick a box on the form saying you promise to only submit one per family. That all sounds fine and well, until you go to fill it out, where it seems you can only add one other person.

For clarity, you can add more. Once submitted, you can continue to edit the form, by logging in on the same website and going to your dashboard. From there, start clicking through the form and you can add any other passengers in your immediate family.

Obviously, it’d be a lot easier if that was clearer before you submitted the form, sure you’d left someone out. If you have more than two people, fill out the form, submit, and then go back to add more.

And yes, be sure to fill out things like middle names, or some airlines may bar you from boarding your flight. It’s happened before, and better safe than sorry.

Santorini Greece Blue Top

QR Code For Arrival In Greece

On the subject of added travel stress, Greece sends the QR (digital barcode) you’ll need to enter the country, or be allowed to board a plane, to your email the evening before your flight. Don’t expect it to be there by dinner time.

Typically, the code is delivered at a time most people with an early morning departure would already be asleep, which makes for a welcome find, first thing in the morning. Perhaps they think it adds to the thrill of travel?

Basically, if you’re panicked about your code not showing up the day before, be sure all your contact details were filled in correctly on your form, but fear not that it will show up before morning.

Arrival Into Santorini Airport

Upon arrival, the plane was deplaned in the most orderly fashion I’ve ever seen it. As is typical protocol here on the island, planes open back and front at the same time, but in this age, rows are take off just a few at a time. If you’re flying in, aim for the back of the plane, or the very front, if you wish to be among the first at the immigration desk.

The new side of the airport is in action, which means lovely air conditioning and better facilities on arrival. Signs were in place all over the floors to maintain social distancing, and constant reminders to wear face coverings were well received. The terminal was immaculately clean.

Upon arriving at the immigration desk, PLF forms were checked, as was the QR code. There is a strong rumor that the number on your QR code tells the officer whether you’ve been selected for additional testing.

And for that matter, random covid-19 testing isn’t a joke. There’s a team of officials in full PPE gear with testing kits ready directly behind the desks, and at least a handful of people on our 200 or so person flight were tested. We weren’t randomly selected, and were able to proceed upstairs to the arrivals hall and were on our way to paradise in about 20 minutes all in, from the time we walked down the steps of the plane.

In the end, it was a near perfect arrival in Greece, with improved facilities and a clear display that covid-19 is being taken seriously, and the safety of guests and locals is a paramount concern.

All the stress of traveling to Greece right now is front loaded into the days before arrival, with the filling and receiving of forms and codes, but for a chance to see the Greek Islands with fewer tourists, in ways that haven’t been experienced since the 50’s, it’s a manageable level of stress.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Great report Gilbert, we have just returned from Zakynthos, we heard of a couple of people that were selected for the Covid test on arrival at Zakynthos Airport, the ones that were selected apparently asked the officers what triggered their selection and they were told it was because their PLF form reference number began with a number 1, all other passengers with a form that did not begin with a 1 were simply waved through.

  2. Hoping you’ll have a restful and relaxing holiday with Mrs and Miss GSTP…
    Great choice of location

  3. My experience was a bit different at the beginning of the month. First there was no notification from the airline that the PLF was online or had to be submitted 24 hours ahead. We get to our departure airport, no form printed, no travel. The customer service desk has more people in line than check-in. We’re all struggling to reschedule our Greek vacation, and are told we need to submit 48 hours ahead, so we’re basically three days away from departure chipping away at our vacation time.
    Not flying to an island but a few days in Athens first due to airline availability. PLF could have been someone else’s photocopy as there was no check against passport IDs. No one was being pulled aside. Some were pulled aside but we were all cattle herded through the roped aisles.
    Hotel in Athens.
    Lost our first original island hotel reservation as we were on the mainland. Mykonos trip is nixed. We rescheduled for Crete and then Santorini. When in Crete, I read of No Plastic in Santorini. Happy to hear they were a plastic free island, on arrival and the last 5 days there is no proof of losing single use plastics. For some reason the people here think there’s no reason to wear a mask either. Shop owners all have Masks Only signs but it’s not enforced. A week ago Greece enforced a midnight curfew to help stop the rise in Covid cases, and apparently Mykonos and Santorini applied for special privileges to stay open later.
    It’s a bit of a farce.
    And incidentally I did not fill my PLF earlier originally as I had not booked a place to stay yet. Six hours ahead of my original flight, I booked a non-refundable last minute, and was eventually burned as obtaining a full PLF QR was not possible. I’d figured it was possible to submit our details at the departure airport check-in

  4. What happens if you are staying at an airport hotel the night before, you dont have a smart phone, like me, and there’s no way for receiving that email as my laptop is at home. What happens next ????

  5. Great review Gilbert. We – 5 family members from 4 different households – flew to Corfu last Thursday from LTN, and sat in the foyer of the Hilton Garden Inn the evening before anxiously awaiting the ping on 4 mobiles to tell us our respective PLF’s were ‘OK to fly’; thankfully they were but it certainly added to the pre-holiday stress. Hope that you and your family enjoy your stay in Santorini. Brian.

  6. Well so happy you’re enjoying your stay in Santorini. I’ve been living in Crete since 1985 and also spent a week recently in lovely Santorini (3rd time). What a difference not having the cruise ships!
    Just want to point out to all you travellers, make sure you have your Ehic cards for any emergency health care (a must). I work in the local hospital in Agios Nikolaos Crete and the amount of times people don’t carry it with them is unbelievable, especially in the times we’re living with covid
    Enjoy the rest of your holiday.

  7. So travelling from Athens then to Santorini i guess I won’t need to go thru this process as I will be going thru it In Athens?

  8. Hi
    Me & my partner are from the same household but are not classed as family as we are not married
    Do I just add my partner’s name on the non-family/non-household part of the plf

  9. I have submitted PLF form without my middle name I have tried to log in
    to edit but cant remember my password or if I even set one I am flying with JET2 will this give me problems I was thinking of filling in another form under another email address but am concerned as regards the one form per household rule.If JET2 are not being over fussy I might just leave it any suggestions?

  10. I have managed to edit the PLF by starting from fresh with same email address and new password then on submission of new form notification
    came up allowing me to edit my original form successfully

  11. This is helpful. I was so confused about how to get my families Covid documentation noted that I filled out a second form for my husband. Now I’m worried I messed everything up. Can I simply use the one I submitted for myself and family? I can’t figure out if there is a way to delete the second one I submitted in a panic?

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