I flied from Egypt to my country – Bulgaria, in March 2020, and it supposed to be a short visit for just a week, when all of a sudden I discovered that I can’t fly back to Egypt soon. There was no travel during the pandemic! The promised 2 weeks became 2 months, and at that time the sources of income drastically decreased and changed, so I had to remain in my country and join the family business. Then my husband surprised me by finding an emergency flight – he came to support my family business and we nailed it together!
* He came from Egypt to Bulgaria as a family member (he owns Bulgarian Residency, else they wouldn’t allow him to come during the pandemic)
The Big Preparation
So, the flight that I supposed to return to Egypt with, in March, was rescheduled to 24th of August. I arranged it at the same date with my husband’s flight, so that we return back together.
To make sure I am always updated, I regularly called the Ministry of Health in Bulgaria to ask what I will need to travel. I also double checked what will be the requirements from the airlines, They were kind to send me all the requirements for our specified flights via e-mail. We flied by Turkish Airlines, Sofia – Istanbul – Cairo.
Nothing seemed to be complicated, but I was so stressed to prepare for this flight, because of the always changing rules and new restrictions. So, till then, I had to obtain a medical certificate with a negative Coronavirus (COVID-19) PCR test result issued at most 72 hours before arrival. Luckily, my husband still didn’t need to make the test, but starting from 1st of September 2020 Egyptian citizens landing to Egypt also will need to get a negative result, and that should be done 48 hours before the flight…
I made the test in a laboratory close to my home in Varna, and the normal service which I preferred (you will get the result after 7 hours) costed me 95 leva (49 Euros). Express service would cost almost double price, but then the result would be released just in 2 hours.
Boarding The Flight
Once at the luggage check in point, I started panicking, because I was extremely worried that something is missing. The lady who checked us in was taking so long to go through my test result, counting the hours, she also gave us two Public Health Cards in English, so that we provide them at our arrival to the International Airport in Cairo.
I was almost fainting, but finally, we received our beautiful boarding passes. What a release! But… why they made us sit away from each other!? That was just another shock, and it was too late to go back as the queue was big. My husband got nervous, as I did too, but later we knew it was like this as the middle row of the airplanes were blocked (empty). This is what they spoke about in the news actually, and then I remembered. But since we traveled together, there was no issue to sit beside each other. We just did that and no one told us anything.
Almost all the mid-rows from both the sides were empty. It looked so weird, only my husband and me were hugging each other at the last seats of the plane. Face protection masks were given to us upon entering the airplane, and they were a must to wear. But to me it was so frustrating and annoying, so I either tried sleeping, either eating, just to avoid the mask wearing. No meals this time, but still we enjoyed some snacks prepared by the airline.
Landing at Istanbul Airport
Half mission passed! We were already at Istanbul! How good it felt! We had 2 hours transit time, so we had time to pray, and eat. Eat, but what and where? A very little part of Istanbul Airport was functioning, due to the pandemic. I hoped that our lounge is open… my belly badly needed a soup! and Yes thanks god, IGA lounge was open.
About Lounge key
My husband and I don’t pay for using almost all the VIP lounges at the airport, thanks to the VISA infinite card. It follows a program called lounge key that covers almost 1000 lounge all over the world. It actually accepts many types of cards and one of them is ours.
True that! Our lovely lounge was open and we could enjoy 30 minutes lunch time during our night flight! My favorite soup was there!
How much I love that lentil soup! After so much stress, this was a best meditation for both of us —>
I snapped a picture as I was already in the mode of writing a story about that travel and to write the tips for travelers during the pandemic.
And here we go, the time for the big flight came!
Heading to the gate at the time of boarding, they checked our documents once again, the crew made sure my test is saying “NEGATIVE”. And that’s all they wanted to see, basically. And what a good luck again… they separated me from my husband, upgrading one of us to the business class! This flight was overbooked so many passengers got the upgrade. The mid-row which supposed to be empty was also filled with people. My husband took an action and asked one passenger to use the upgrade instead of us. Of course this was very well welcomed, who wouldn’t enjoy a business class seat at the front of the airplane? To me, I just needed to stick to my husband, due to my big fear of heights. I was so exhausted… we both slept for a while, till we heard a noise of opening food boxes.
I was almost not afraid at the moment of landing, seeing the city lights and the welcoming Cairo city. How much I missed it! I just came back to the land of my spouse. Egypt is already my home to. At the immigration they collected our Public Health Cards and stamped our passports. Finally, we have arrived to the mother of the world :).
Important Tips for Travelers During the Pandemic
- Almost all the destinations now require PCR test. Try to avoid flights after weekends as you need to be negative within 72 hours from reaching your destination.
- Mask is a must from the minute you enter the airport. You will get it off only when you exit the airport of of the destination country.
- Food is currently very limited in most of the airports, it is better to prepare some snacks for the way.
- Flights are not accepting anymore trolley bags onboard. They need to be checked in with luggage. It is better to keep your important things in a back bag or a handbag.
- Many destinations require valid international health insurance. It is important to check this.
Have a safe and enjoyable travel 🙂
Read also: From Bulgaria to The Middle East