TRAVELING BY AIR – STILL NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART NOR THOSE WHO HAVE TO PINCH EVERY PENNY
(Posted 15th June 2021)
While the main European holiday destinations like Spain, France, Italy and Greece are presently in a race to attract tourists from Europe to their shores – once fully vaccinated there will be no entry restrictions nor quarantine requirements or additional tests – is a very different picture emerging in many African beach and safari destinations.
I want to concentrate here on my return to Uganda last weekend and the preparations I had to take, but also the most recent change which boggles the mind yet more.
Given the situation vis a vis COVID19 in Uganda of late, have more demands been thrown at visitors arriving by air, when as a matter of fact health authorities should concentrate to contain the fast rise of cases at home, within the country – but whenever did bureaucrats listen to reason or see sense.
Being fully vaccinated, which means I had sat out the 14 day wait period between the second injection and the day when by global standards the term ‘fully vaccinated‘ could be applied, I envied fellow travelers to the European holiday destinations of the Meditteranean or to the Atlantic Canary Islands, where that confirmation was all they needed to travel, while I, going home no less, had again jump through hoops and circumnavigate hurdles.
Going back to Uganda was once again a different case. Fully vaccinated meant nothing, apparently, as on arrival my vaccination certificate was only given a very cursory inspection, with the main attention on my PCR test which I had to take before departure from Brussels and to see if my passport details matched those on the PCR test result.
That result was accepted on the phone screen, i.e. no printed confirmation required, yet, though that could still come.
ATTA reports in their daily broadcast of this morning, that everyone arriving in Uganda now needs PCR tests administered on arrival, thankfully launched on the day after I arrived back home:
- Update on Uganda
- As of 11 June 2021 the exemption from testing on arrival for those who have received their full COVID-19 vaccination and show no COVID-19 symptoms has been withdrawn. All travellers arriving into Uganda now must be tested on arrival at a cost of $65 per test.
For travelers that means they have to fork out 67 Euro for tests, or whatever the exact cost at their location of departure from Europe is, per person and then again have to test at a cost of 65 USD on arrival in Uganda.
For a family of four that amounts to a whopping added cost on their travel budget of 268 Euro before departure, 260 US Dollars on arrival in Uganda and then 260 US Dollars on departure from Uganda, where again a test is mandatory – RESULTS IN PRINTED FORMAT ON DEPARTURE are also mandatory.
For a single traveler it still amounts to roughly 200 US Dollars overall, money which no doubt was meant to be spent on other activities than getting one’s nasal cavity dug up.
Add to that the meanwhile sharply risen cost of air tickets and other incidentals like the cost of Visa and travel for many to such exotic and exciting destinations like Uganda and in fact across Africa will soon be beyond their means, compelling those market segments to seek out more affordable alternatives and places where travel is less impacted by health regulations, especially when they change every so often and at times with little or even no notice.
Brussels, my airport of departure, showed a 1 percent occupancy at noon when I checked in, pathetic by any standards and in comparison to prepandemic usage levels economically catastrophic. This no doubt is a result of less flights and far less passengers, indicating it may be a while before some level of normalcy – compared to prepandemic times – returns.
A number of shops at Brussels Airport had remained closed, the airline’s own lounge also remained closed though the airport information webpage claims that the Brussels airport lounges were open again, at a cost of 34 Euros.
(The sky over Brussels the night before my departure, which previously was criss crossed by dozens of contrails and empty departure halls)
Given such a situation is it very likely that my long held Gold status as a frequent traveler may soon be reduced to lesser levels or perhaps go altogether, because travel I will for the time being only when it is absolutely necessary. I will certainly not travel for pleasure or leisure, because it is no longer a pleasure having to jump through all those hoops health regulators hold up for us with a dozen arms.
On the upside was the check in, the welcome on board of Brussels Airlines and the service on board up to the marks I was used to, always offering that extra ‘S’mile.
Hence, this series can now conclude with part two of chapter three as I enjoy life in my hammock, listening to the periodic sound of inbound aircraft headed for Entebbe International Airport on their final approach – and I do so without regrets.
When governments have learned to approach the pandemic and their reactions to it scientifically – no pun intended – listening to global experts and not self styled wannabe know it alls who happen to have the ears of a minister, and follow the advice of ICAO and IATA as far as travel screening is concerned, then I will be happy to resume my travels, but not before while the demands across Africa in particular regularly vary from country to country and in summary make looney bin reading.
For travelers to Germany, here are the latest entry requirements:
Links to the previous articles in this series: