Readers’ best tips for travelling to and from Sweden during the holidays

Readers' best tips for travelling to and from Sweden during the holidays
People wait in line for Covid-19 tests at Newark Liberty International Airport in the US the day before Christmas Eve. Photo: AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey
The Local's readers share their advice for travelling to and from Sweden over the holidays as pandemic restrictions and staff shortages cause delays and cancellations. 

In spite of restrictions, delays and cancellations, many foreigners were able to travel to visit family for the holidays for the first time this month. We asked The Local’s readers for their advice on how to get where you want to go despite the chaos and new restrictions. 

The WHO has also published advice on how to protect yourself while travelling.

Be early

Gone are the days of arriving at the airport half an hour before your flight. The most common advice we got from readers was about getting to the airport as early as you possibly can. Some responses even suggested that you get there four hours before an inter-continental flight. 

Most airlines now require manual check-in so they can check all your documents in-person and this results in lengthy queues at the check-in desk. Going through security is generally less tedious – we’re all used to putting our liquids in tiny bottles now – but it’s still good to arrive with plenty of time to spare before your flight. My personal experience involved waiting over an hour in line to check-in (I arrived two and a half hours before departure).  

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Be kind

Travelling is stressful at the best of times, and even more so during a global pandemic. Staff shortages due to sick leave mean that already overworked airport staff are going to be more stressed than usual at such a busy time. 

Philip O’Connor suggests: “Be as early as you can, bring snacks and paper copies of all your docs (which you’ve checked the night before), and remember that it’s not the fault of counter staff – being nice to them will get you to where you want to go far quicker than pulling a Karen.” 

Be prepared

Print out your documents and keep them somewhere safe, preferably in one of those plastic wallets. Make sure to also have digital copies of everything just in case a piece of paper escapes. 

It differs by airline and destination, but you’ll likely need proof of vaccination, proof of a negative Covid test, and other supporting documents for your journey. It’s up to passengers to check the requirements for each country they are travelling to and through. The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs has up-to-date information on the different regulations that apply to international travellers. 

If you are connecting flights, try to make sure there’s enough time between connections. You’ll be better off booking with a single airline instead of linking them with budget portals.

But even the best prepared traveller can be hit with unforeseen circumstances in times like these, so be prepared to be unprepared. 

Colin Stewart says: “Know the rules in detail from primary sources, keep a copy of every boarding pass, form, certificate, etc. Be prepared to rebook tests and pickups. Anticipate flight re-bookings, missed connections and extra days travel.”

Wear a mask 

Sweden’s major airports comply with European aviation regulatory guidelines which ask that all adults wear a mask in terminals (but based on reports to The Local the recommendation is not followed by all passengers, so that is something you may want to be aware of).

Wearing a mask on a plane is now mandatory everywhere. HEPA filters on board planes can help to clear viruses from circulating in cabin air, but masks provide another barrier against Covid-19 spreading. 

If you’re going on a long-distance flight, make sure to bring enough masks for the journey: a mask is only effective for four hours. Some airlines only accept single-use medical face masks to FFP2, KN95, N95 standards, while others accept other types of cloth coverings. It’s best to check with the airline you’re travelling with before leaving home.  

Save up money

Travelling during the pandemic has become more costly due to increases in the price of flights to cover for cancellation insurance and paying for the necessary tests and quarantine arrangements. This has been enough to put some people off travelling altogether. 

After spending £400 on Covid tests to visit family, The Local’s CEO and publisher, James Savage, said: “My top tip for travel to the UK: have a big budget and don’t expect to leave the house while you’re there.” 

Another reader suggested upgrading your ticket so you can get fast track check-in and enjoy the comforts of a less-crowded lounge.

Have you managed to travel home for the holidays despite the pandemic chaos? Let us know your tips for travelling below. 

Member comments

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  1. This is not terribly helpful, is it? If anyone is flying between Stockholm/Iceland/Boston in the first week of Jan. 2022 and has an actual report of conditions on the ground – and if the system is functioning – I would like to hear about it. I am scheduled to fly from Boston to Stockholm on 11 January. Cheers from Vermont, USA.

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