Covid continues to have an impact on international travel and airline routes. With the European Commission recently having recommended to member nations that American tourists no longer be admitted (at least unvaccinated ones), some countries made modifications as to who would be allowed entry. This, of course, causes a lot of uncertainty. So, here is a pro tip for anyone wanting to travel to Greece this year.
If You Visit Greece This Year, You Want One of These Flights
Greece saw a huge uptick in tourism this summer, in part to the fact that they opened up to American tourists again on May 14 and have said that they would not close that door until at least the end of the tourist season.
Part of this success was also with a host of flights to Greece and their islands from all over the world, including an unprecedented number of them from the US – see that full list and the initial schedule releases here.
With the uncertainty for American tourists with arriving in Europe over the next month or so, the best thing to do is to fly one of the non-stop flights from the US to Athens. Many European countries have put rules in place that have impacted American flyers this year, such as Switzerland not allowing American tourists to enter (which meant that you could not transit there since that was your first stop in the Schengen Zone), as well as other countries with testing procedures that may have been different from what Greece required (such as tighter testing windows or testing being required regardless of vaccination status).
Earlier this month, the Greek Tourism Minister spoke personally to the heads of the big three US airlines (American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines) to assure them that they would be able to continue flying to Greece through the rest of their schedules. This is huge since it means that, no matter what other Schengen countries do or require, American tourists can still rely on entering Greece without a problem – as long as they fly a non-stop flight from the US.
What If You Already Have a Flight Booked?
If you have already booked your flight to Greece and it transits another European country, just keep checking as time gets closer to see what rules/restrictions are put in place for transit. If something changes that would not allow you to make the flight as scheduled, you can always call the airline and ask if you can be moved to one of the non-stop flights.
If you are flying a Star Alliance carrier (such as Lufthansa, SWISS, Austrian), you would want to be moved to United. If you are flying a Skyteam carrier (like KLM/Air France), you would want to be moved to Delta. Finally, if you are flying a Oneworld partner (like Finnair, British Airways), you would want to be moved to American Airlines.
If you are flying on one of those airlines to connect to one of their international partners, then you would likely contact that US carrier anyway so that would make it even easier. They may not move you but if you cannot fly because of international restrictions, they would need to refund you or give you credit (and many airlines let you make changes free of change fees anyway) so you can just move to the non-stop versions yourself.
Good news – while the US carriers pause their non-stop flights at the end of the tourist season (late/end October), Emirates has their non-stop from Newark to Athens year round!