How can I reunite with my partner?
Here are successful stories from couples separated by travel bans
These stories are individual experiences, not official guidelines
Jake and Christine
United States of America (New York) to Germany
London, United Kingdom
It marked 16 months of not seeing my partner by the time I decided to take this lesser-known loophole to get into Germany from USA in August.
In August, US Citizens could only enter Schengen Countries such as Germany if they had quarantined for 14 days in a country such as the UK and then fly in, or if they came into Germany through another EU country regardless of the amount of time they had spent in there. Keep in mind, nearly every single EU country had banned US Citizens from entry. Given that I did not have 14 days to kill before meeting my partner, another fellow member of the CSBTB group mentioned this “loophole” of how Hungary, a Schengen Country, was the only EU country allowing US Citizens in only if they presented 2 negative covid tests, tested 48 hours apart from each other, no longer than 5 days prior to arriving in Hungary. After he had posted his success story, I decided to take the risk and follow his route although others were doubting I’d get the same result.
In preparation for my trip, I booked all my tickets separately, JFK>LHR, LHR>BUD, BUD>STR, FRA>JFK across 4 separate airlines. In the span of the week before my flight, I got tested for free at the NYC H+H Clinics and got each of my results back in a little over 24 hours.
Getting to JFK from Manhattan in an Uber was shockingly quick, which is unheard of for those of you who know what I’m talking about, and walking into JFK was like a ghostown since most shops were closed and very few people flying. JFK to London Heathrow was nonstop on Virgin Atlantic – a brand new aircraft with about 350 seats where only 30 passengers at max were flying with me that day. I had to keep my mask on at all times except when eating/drinking on this flight, had the entire row to myself, along with endless food choices, and a good night’s sleep onboard as this was a redeye flight.
Arriving at London, I used the E-gates to catch my flight later that day with British Airways (BA) to Budapest. At Heathrow, I had to recheck my bags in, and the BA Agent did not question nor ask me a single thing for flying. Security was a breeze, however, this flight was more narrow and was flying full to Budapest. No food served as it’s a short flight, and masks were on the entire time.
Arriving at Budapest, there were 8 lines at immigration,6 for Hungarian/EU citizens, and 2 for everyone else. They asked for my passport, my 2 paper printouts of my negative covid test results, asked me my purpose for visit, which I said honestly as "tourism", where he then gave me a smile, stamped my passport and I was out of the airport in 10 minutes. Took an BOLT(the Hungarian version of UBER) to my airbnb in downtown Budapest, and had a great time exploring the city for the following 2 days.
After 2 days in Budapest, it was time to return to the airport and fly with Eurowings to Stuttgart airport in Germany. The flight was again narrow, 50% occupied, no issues at check in, no questioning of my US Passport or any documents, masks on entire flight, and middle seats were blocked.
A few hours later, I had landed in Germany for the first time. Super nervous, looking left and right to see if there were any officers or immigration checks wondering how this US Passport holder was able to get into Germany, and to my surprise...NOT A SINGLE IMMIGRATION/BORDER OFFICER at arrivals, no passport checks, no temperature checks, the entire airport was empty like a ghost town. I booked a car rental with Hertz Germany at the airport location, so I picked up the car right after I landed. The Hertz employee gave me a laugh when she saw my US Passport and License and said to drive safely and have a great time.
I then began the 3 hour drive to visit my partners house. Driving in Germany, was way too easy, and I’ll admit I always confused the KM/H with my usual MPH on the odometer too often. Finally getting to see her after 16 months, especially after flying nearly 30 hours on-board time, and this pandemic going, you could probably imagine all the mix of emotions going on in my mind. I spent nearly 2 weeks in Germany with my partner back then, driving around from Stuttgart, to Frankfurt, and the Rhineland region. This was my first time in Germany and in her town, so we made sure we checked off anything we could do as we weren’t sure when we would get this opportunity again. Back in August, Germany was doing very well in terms of handling Covid, and I always kept my masks on while in public and taking all the measures.
Alas, 2 weeks later on September 1st, it was time to return back home. However this time I was flying from Frankfurt instead of Stuttgart and had to drop the rental car at Frankfurt as well. The route was FRA > JFK Lufthansa Nonstop, 50% occupied flight. Masks on entire time, 9 hour flight time, food was delicious, no questions asked again at Frankfurt, no questions asked upon arriving JFK, no need to quarantine upon arrival in New York. I got tested anyway at my own choice upon arriving in NY, and did not meet any family or friends until I received negative results, which I did 2 days later.
Although this method no longer works as of September 1st, which was coincidentally when I just returned to NYC, Hungary decided to shut their borders to all foreigners due to the rise in covid cases, and although I’m no longer with my partner anymore, I still wanted to share this experience and wish you the best of success in reuniting with your partner and remind you that anything is possible.