Flying from Pakistan to Germany in times of Corona

The return journey wasn’t very different from the one to Karachi from Berlin, other than one crucial detail – mandatory negative corona test report.

For details of my flight from Berlin to Karachi, please check out this video.

Coming back to the journey to Germany – every airline has a list of laboratories that they accept a corona test report from. I flew with Qatar Airways, and they only accepted one from Aga Khan Hospital in Karachi.

I got AKU’s home service for testing instead of going to the hospital as wasn’t feeling very well (allergies) and the extra charge would have been close to what I’d pay for Careem anyway. To get an appointment for Aga Khan’s Home Services, all you need to do is call them and someone comes at your home to collect a sample. You can pay by cash or use a card (HBL Account holders get at least 10% discount on testing charges). The Covid’19 test Aga Khan costs Rs.6,900 and an additional Rs.1,000 for home service.

Turn around time for reports is officially up to 48 hours, but I got mine in less than 24. So did N and my sister. But just to be safe, I got tested on Sunday afternoon for my flight on Wednesday at 5am.

Everything else about the flight from Karachi to Berlin is pretty standard. Get to the airport, drop your luggage, go through passport control, then to your gate. The additional step where a woman physically scans you is now amiss.

Interestingly, no one checked or asked for my corona test report. The gentleman at the baggage drop counter asked if I had the report, and said that he doesn’t need it but Berlin would.

Qatar Airways had disabled the middle seat in every aisle to maintain distance. Also, they served hot meals in both my flights – Karachi to Doha, as well as Doha to Berlin. I have been told that other airlines, like Turkish, have neither kept social distance while seating passengers nor served hot meals. So was glad that I flew with Qatar.

Cafes and restaurants at both Karachi and Doha Airport are open and serving. You are required to wear a mask at all times, unless eating. Face shields are only mandatory when in the plane.

Once we landed at Tegel Airport in Berlin, everything was pretty standard here too. Passport control and then the luggage collection. You can head out straight to exit or go up to Terminal D for testing. No one informed me about it though; I knew because N had flown in a week back and figured it out.

At terminal D, you are required to fill a form online (there is a QR code to access the form and WiFi), que up, get briefed about the procedure as well as report checking method, and then let the medical staff take your sample. They inserted a cotton swab down your throat and then up your nose. Not painful but quite disgusting.

There are real soldiers to guide and assist at terminal D, and it feels like a military camp. Very courteous, polite and spoke pretty good English.

I left for home after the test and slept for most part of the day. I got an email the next day to inform that my report was ready and can be checked online. I followed instructions and saw a report that concluded that I tested negative for corona.

It felt surreal to realise that I had travelled to and fro Pakistan and managed to remain safe. But I had. So, HELLO BERLIN!