By Dom Serafini
In order for Americans and other qualified travelers to fly to the U.S. from Italy these days, Delta (and other airlines) requires proof of a negative COVID test before boarding, as well as a slew of other documents. And, at least for now, the U.S. has opted not to lift foreign travel restrictions, meaning that foreign visitors are still (unreasonably in my view) broadly banned. And as expected, filing the required documentation to fly to the U.S. isn’t as easy as it should be.
First, it wasn’t necessary (although it was requested) to make a reservation in advance in order to take the required COVID rapid test. Passengers who registered on the spot at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport (FCO) using computer screens located in the COVID test area were waiting on a line alongside those who had made reservation appointments in advance online.
The COVID Test Area is located at Arrival Terminal 3 (T3, located on the ground floor) of the FCO airport. The Test Area is open from 12 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
In this particular case, it took about 45 minutes to get my COVID test results, with approximately 30 other passengers around. However, the process was quite disorganized. After checking in and paying 20 euro (Photo 1), passengers were required to take a ticket from an automatic dispenser. The only thing on the ticket was a number that was supposed to be displayed on a monitor (as indicated on the ticket)… except that monitor was nowhere to be found. It turned out that the number did not indicate the order in which passengers would be taking their tests. For that, we were simply told to wait in line, Photo 2). No, the number was the order in which we were to retrieve our test results (Photo 3). And, the number, instead of being seen on the aforementioned nonexistent monitor, was loudly called out by attendants in an area that was already rather loud, making it hard to hear.
Then, before reaching Delta’s check-in area, which was located on the second floor (as usual), security personnel checked passengers’ passports, their negative COVID test results, and their U.S. “Passenger Attestation” forms (self-declaration forms attesting to one’s COVID-free status) that were filed online (using either a QR Code or printed out, Photo 4). This entire procedure took another 30 minutes, with some 30 passengers waiting.
For the transatlantic flight Delta used its newest A330-900 aircrafts, which were received eight months ago, but because of the pandemic are only now starting to be used. Oddly, however, the new aircraft did not have sanitizing gel dispensers onboard like on the older A330 versions.
After arriving at New York’s JFK Airport, the only control was at the border patrol area, where passports were checked, but no COVID-related questions were asked (the only question was related to import duty items).
Starting on August 6, 2021, the E.U. will require all people on its soil to have a “Green Pass” card attesting complete vaccination in order enter all public areas. It is as yet unclear if the U.S.’s equivalent CDC vaccination card will be accepted, however there are indications that the card, which includes all the information that the E.U. requires (like name, date of birth, make of vaccine, number of doses, etc.) will be a valid substitute.