Traveling to Greece

Greece Clarifies About Traveler Origination and Testing On Arrival

Written by Charlie

Greece has clarified about where a traveler is originating from and whether testing will be required for those travelers. Remember, Greece will receive visitors as of June 15.

Greece has moved their lines around a bit when it comes to opening up for tourists. While some may be frustrated with it, we need to remember that the covid-19 situation we are living in makes for very fluid situations – especially for travel. So, Greece has clarified yet another point on tourism.

Greece Clarifies About Traveler Origination

The Shifts in Rules for Entry to Greece

For a while, it had appeared that Americans were not going to be allowed to visit Greece until July, possibly even after July 15. With schedule changes from airlines like Delta reflecting this, many started writing off a Greek holiday this year.

Then, Greece announced their list of 29 countries that would be allowed to visit Greece as of June 15 – and, of course, the US and the UK (among others) were not on the list. So, Americans and Brits were waiting again.

Finally, last weekend, the Greek ministry updated their rules yet again to say that the world is welcome as of June 15, but with testing and quarantining for many. Today, we have further clarification as to how that will work.

Testing Done Based on Flight Origination – Not Passport or Country

So, according to the original rules, it appeared that the testing that will occur from June 15 – 30 would be based on a traveler’s origination airport on the ticket to Greece. Greece is using this EASA list of airports that show control over the virus to designate which places are high risk and which are safe.

How Would it Work?

I have a flight from Greece to the US on the 15th and then back at the end of that week so I will be able to check this whole thing out and report back then, but I was wondering how they would handle such a testing strategy? I mean, if I entered the EU in Greece, of course they could check me at passport control to see where I had originated and then have me be tested. But, what if I entered the EU via a different country and then flew to Greece – how would they know? Would they have someone checking names at the end of each gateway?

It turns out that, under the clarifications, it will be based on the where the flight originated that lands in Greece. This is why Delta had pushed their flights off – the entire plane would need to be tested upon arrival in Greece. Also, this appears to be why Turkish Airlines had cancelled their flights to Thessaloniki from the 15th to the 30th – even though Thessaloniki is accepting international arrivals. It seems that that plane would have to be tested and all passengers quarantined and I am not sure if Thessaloniki has the capacity to make that happen.

Putting it in Real-World Situations

So, based on the clarification, it should not matter if an American visits Greece and flies out of NYC. It will matter where the flight that arrives in Greece originates from. If it originates from Turkey, for example, or Sweden, that passenger and all aboard will be tested and need to quarantine.

But, if that passenger transits through Switzerland and flies to Greece, the passenger would not face mandatory testing. But, there will still be random testing even for flights originating from the “safe” airports. If such a passenger tests positive, the people from that flight would need to be quarantined.

Bottom Line

If you were wanting to visit Greece between June 15 – 30, this is important since it clarifies why and how you would be tested. If you are arriving in Greece from an airport on the safe list, you may not even be tested. But, if you have a flight from an airport with high risk, you would face testing on arrival.

Then, you would be put up overnight at a designated hotel (at Greece’s expense) and then go into quarantine – for either 7 days if negative or 14 days if positive. This is only for flights coming from high risk airports.

But, if you do not plan on arriving in Greece until after July 1, you should be all set! After that date, it will be based on random testing though there will be some additional protocols for some countries – I would imagine that would include the US. So, in such a situation, not taking a non-stop from the US could be a better option.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

15 Comments

  • I just can’t win!

    On my original ticket, we were scheduled to fly AF business on their 777 through CDG then to ATH. I changed this when we had to change our dates thinking I would be safer to book a direct flight from a US city to Greece. Turns out it could be less of a hassle to go through CDG, AMS or FCO.

    I’ll have to think this one through. Will probably wait until the first part of July to see what the situation is for flights coming from JFK. My flight is later in August so I have time.

        • Debating whether to do so, back to my original date. It looks like connections in France are OK. And if I am understanding this correctly, an origination would then be from Paris, not NYC. However, as of today, Paris is still on the EASA list.

    • Sam – what’s your experience with AlItalia? I have not taken them since I was a kid. They are known for going on strike.. Would you avoid them? It looks like they are operating their Airbus300 to Rome with transfer to Athens. I could do this instead of Air France. How is their business class compared to AF’s?

      • I love Alitalia, Constantine! It’s actually my favorite business class product, Magnifica. Best food in the sky and best wine (I’m referring only to business class). Seats are very comfortable, service has always been excellent. At FCO, the Casa Alitalia that is closest to the US bound gates is one of my favorite airport lounges anywhere.

        I have never been impacted by their strikes but it has crossed my mind. I wonder, since Italy was so significantly impacted by the virus, if this will present a challenge for those flying from Italy to Greece.

  • Charlie thanks. Still some questions though about this:

    Is it to be assumed that after July 1, direct flights from EASA listed high risk areas will all be tested and quarantined? Delta does not fly direct until July 16.

    When will EASA update their list? As of now, Paris and Amsterdam area airports are still listed. Most indirect flights from the US have stop overs in these cities before onward to Athens. So if there will still be strict measures taken for flights originating from these areas, then flying indirect does not really help. Also, how do US citizens know they are able to actually transfer in these airports by July 1? Are they subject to Cvoid tests at these layovers as well?

    The other big wildcard is what this very vague “additional restrictions” plan actually means.

    Any intel on these questions?

    • Just flagging that Origination is the airport where you originate from, not the airport you are connecting in. So even if you go indirect and transfer in a city or country NOT on the EASA list, they will still look at your origination. So the connection/non direct flight would not help in that scenario.

      • Just saw where American Airlines has pushed back the start of their direct flights to ATH from O’Hare to Aug 5. Wonder if they know something we don’t?

        This is from another area where I read about Greece travel:

        A source at Delta in Atlanta did say that Delta’s operations team was assessing their international travel options “literally on a daily basis” and that the Athens flight was a priority for the company. This was from the Pappas Post.

        Last year, Delta operated two non-stop flights from New York City’s JFK International Airport.

        • I just got an alert that the EU has extended their travel ban of non EU citizens to July 1. Not an issue for most, however there was just a massive announcement that Greece was letting US citizens in as of June 15th. Now this means it will be changed again? I think this adds to the confusion and wondering why Greece announced that the other day..

          • Oh really?! I haven’t heard anything official on that. It was the EU commission, right? If so, all they can do is make the recommendation to member countries. I think Greece and Italy, among others, are going to push back hard on that. Italy is already open, Greece is due to open next week and you know that they had long discussions with member countries before starting this hard push on tourism.
            It is kind of ridiculous because the virus numbers have, for the most part, been dropping. Most countries are in various phases of opening. To my knowledge, there is nothing that would cause a scare for people coming in to EU so what is the point? There are going to be many EU countries that will kick back at this. At this point, it is ridiculous. I know there are many people that have already planned travel to Greece – most to see family, etc. This is going to keep airlines from wanting to start flying more at all if they keep having to bear the cost of this.

      • That’s what I had originally thought as well but based on the testing they are doing here now, it is based on the flight’s origination. Maybe it will also be passenger origination but that will be extremely hard to track – for example, when coming into SKG from an EU airport (SKG is fairly small airport), there is nothing setup for incoming passengers unless they pick up luggage (and go through customs). Maybe they will do it after that but it is going to be pretty hard to check passengers unless they check every single one entering the city.

        • RE: the announcement of July 1st as the new date to let NON-EU citizens in, I saw it here: https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2020/06/05/eu-internal-borders-non-eu-nationals/

          That site has questionable reporting, often. As of now the US embassy still has June 15th as the date US citizens can come. But that article claims otherwise..

          I was not able to change my Delta flight to AF, even though they are partners. I got two kind of shady excuses that made me think things are still volatile.. In any regard, the Delta rep assured me this flight would go. If they change the flight again I may just call it off completely this year.

          Besides flight issues, I think fear of people being tested and coming back positive as asymtpomatics is also keeping people from booking. If someone has a two week holiday ruined by being quarantined..I mean who wants to risk that? Also how are they going to rapid test random healthy looking and feeling people upon arrival?

  • First, thanks for information. I am actually ambigious with the aspects of flying in a EU or EFTA country staying there for a while before flying to Greece to undermine the health checks. Yes, less headaches for me. But what about if you are infected and get sick in Greece, you help spread the virus in the country?? It is a dilemma, well at least for me.

    • I completely understand, Darren. One thing of note – Greece has said they will pay for lodging for any sick tourists for the 2 week quarantine period so at least it would not be an expense on you (should that happen).

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