Is a round-trip to Madeira on the green list worth it?
As the plane took off from a dark and rainy Gatwick at 6.30 a.m., the excitement on board TUI Airways flight TOM4134 was obvious.
It was one of eight TUI aircraft that left the UK on Momentous Monday, May 17th, the first day that British citizens were allowed to travel overseas. TUI welcomed the press to fly under the new restrictions, so I would soon be landing in the delightful 25C heat of sub-tropical Madeira with 128 other passengers. This Atlantic Ocean island, which is part of Portugal, is one of only a dozen places on the government’s Green List. We wouldn’t have to quarantine when we returned to the UK, which was a relief.
It had been a long trip to get holiday-ready, as exciting as it was to be flying again. Preparation for my round-trip begins 72 hours before departure, with a Fit to Fly PCR test — the first of three tests required for my round-trip.
The trouble of organizing them – not to mention the cost – was a deterrent, but TUI has partnered with testing partner Chronomics to offer Covid test packages to customers. A Fit to Fly PCR test, a Test to Return to the UK (lateral flow test) to be performed before the trip home, and another PCR test, which will be sent to your house to be taken on day two after your return, are all included in the £60 package.
I registered on the Madeira Safe website to upload my negative result after receiving it. I didn’t have to wait long for an email confirmation, and I quickly returned to the site to get my QR code, which I needed to provide at check-in. I received my flight pass after presenting my passport and documentation of the negative PCR result.
After the novelty of getting my passport stamped at Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport, I called up the QR code and negative test result on my phone for scrutiny before being allowed to exit the airport.
When I got outside, I noticed a bust of the island’s most famous player, which made me laugh since someone had added a face mask! It was a timely reminder of the importance of facial coverings. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”