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Flying Internationally During the Pandemic

March 30, 2021

By Reginald Perry, Planet 9 Client Services Manager

In today’s ever-changing climate, flying internationally in a private jet is more difficult now than ever before. Below, I will discuss some items to take into consideration when planning an international trip during the pandemic, and some tips and tricks to ensure you remain in compliance of all the rules and regulations when it comes to flying abroad.

It all depends on the destination country.

Whether or not passengers can enter a country these days is determined by several factors. These include but are not limited to, country specific entry requirements, the nationality of the passengers, passenger travel history, and residency status. The challenge for private jet operators is that the regulations that are in place today may not be the same regulations that are in place a week from now. I strongly recommend that country entry regulations be checked and double checked on a trip-by-trip basis, as this is the only to ensure you stay on top of any changes that may arise from one trip to the next.

Plan Ahead

This step is critical. You want to be sure that you give yourself as much advance notice as possible to plan out an international trip. Many countries are requiring all passengers to be able to produce a negative COVID test, and to fill out health forms and/or travel declarations prior to the flight. Make sure that you are utilizing any online resources that may be available to you. Most countries have an official webpage dedicated to the latest COVID-19 updates and entry requirements. This includes any steps that you may be required to take, as well as any additional health declarations or travel visas that may be required to be filled out as well. This can be immensely helpful in determining paperwork required, so be sure to check and see if your intended country has this information available.

Questions to Address

When you are doing your research for the country of your choosing, make sure you address the following questions prior to your flight. Is the trip feasible? What are the entry requirements for passengers? Some questions to ask are:

Are negative COVID tests required for entry? And if so, what is the validity?

  • Make sure that you address the validity period of the negative COVID test if it is required. Is it 72 hours prior? 48 hours prior? Be sure to pay attention to the wording as well. For example, 72 hours prior to boarding is a different requirement than 72 hours prior to arrival. All of these questions are critical to ensure your passengers and crew take their test at the right time, so make sure you are clear on those requirements. Last but not least, check if passengers will be required to be retested on arrival. This is the case with several countries so make sure you are aware of this in order to plan accordingly.

What type of COVID test is accepted?

  • Every country seems to have its own rules on which types of COVID tests are accepted (PCR, Rapid, etc). Make sure that you are checking for the specific country to which you are flying to, in order to ensure you take the correct type of COVID test.

Are there any websites or forms that are required to be completed?

  • Make sure that this question is addressed, utilizing the online country websites I mentioned earlier. In some instances, this paperwork has to be completed prior to passengers boarding, so please ensure all appropriate steps are taken prior to the flight. This will ensure a smoother process and less delays or other issues on arrival.

Is there a quarantine period?

  • Be aware of this so you can plan accordingly. In some countries, quarantine may be required for all inbound passengers, or may be based on your country of origin. Whatever the case may be, please make sure you are aware of the requirements in order to set expectations and plan your trip accordingly.

When you get to your destination:

As mentioned previously, please confirm that you have any and all required paperwork with you in order to present on arrival. This will ensure a smoother process. Once you get settled into your destination, it is imperative that you comply with any and all local health guidelines, including any additional COVID testing requirements, quarantine requirements, local mask mandates, social distancing rules, etc. Also, it is a good idea for all passengers to know their local medical options in country, just in case they get sick while abroad. There are several countries which require you to purchase health insurance for travel, which helps to cover medical expenses if a passenger gets sick and has to be hospitalized. Being familiar with this information before the trip helps to avoid any potential surprises later on.

COVID Vaccines

A common question being asked is whether countries will waive any entry restrictions and/or testing requirements if a person has been vaccinated against COVID-19. Unfortunately, in most instances, the current answer at this time is no. Most countries will still require a negative COVID test for entry, regardless of if you have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Personally, I believe that as we move forward, and more people continue to get vaccinated, I expect to see countries roll out provisions and exceptions for people who can prove that they are fully vaccinated. Hopefully, countries will begin to ease their restrictions as well. As of now though, I believe that we are still months away from this becoming a reality, so only time will tell as things progress.

Conclusion

Overall, if you would like to travel during the pandemic, there is no question that it is much more difficult – but certainly not impossible. The above tips will help to reduce overall risk to your passengers and/or your flight, and help to operate more effectively, and safely. Planet 9 operations does assessments before each and every one of our private jet charter flights, checking trip feasibility, country requirements, and ensuring regulatory compliance for each and every single one of our passengers.

Looking to plan a trip? Contact sales@flyplanet9.com for a quote today.

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