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…
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.
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.