Business Travel Spotlight: Just How Much of a Hassle Is It to Fly to Europe?

SFBW looks at Miami to Milan and back

The short answer: It’s not much of a hassle. The anticipation is worse than the reality. This guidance is based on a sample American Airlines trip from Miami to Milan, via JFK in New York, but note that conditions related to covid change frequently.

Fast facts:

  • Milan is located in Lombardy (it’s actually the capital), the region in Italy with the highest number of fully vaccinated people. Lombardy has attained a 77% vaccination rate.
  • Milan Malpensa is the city’s largest airport. Its airport code is MXP.
  • Hotels will require you to show your vaccination card.
  • The indoor mask mandate is strictly enforced (except for restaurants). It is possible, even likely, to spend a week in Lombardy (Milan, Lake Como) and nearby coastal Liguria (Portofino, Cinque Terre) and never see it breached.


Step by Step:

  • Make sure you’re fully vaccinated at least two weeks before your trip; take a photo of your vax card and stick that baby right in your passport.
  • Buy your ticket as usual.
  • Get a rapid covid test no more than 72 hours before departure. As with all documents, carry a print and an electronic version with you. You know what? It’s possible no one will ask to see it, either in the U.S. or Italy.
  • Fill out a passenger locator form (online), called a dPLF. It’s not that tough. You’ll have to indicate the first hotel where you’ll be staying and your seat on the flight. You’ll be asked to show the form at check-in in Miami along with your vaccination card.
  • Fly from Miami to JFK. You don’t have to go through security again! Head right to your gate.
  • Fly from JFK to Milan. On arrival, have your vaccination card in hand, although a security staffer may only pretend to look at it.
  • Enjoy Italy!
  • Within three days of your return flight, get a rapid covid test (bring your passport!) and receive the printed results, sometimes within minutes. The easiest way is to have your hotel concierge make an appointment at a local pharmacy. A concierge who’s really on the case—like at Grand Hotel Victoria on Lake Como— may book the test before you even check-in; ask for the concierge’s email address. (Make sure you tip that concierge.)
  • Many people will say, Just get it done at the airport. Right, just what you need on the day you fly out of the country. Hard pass.
  • At check-in in Milan, just show your Italian covid-negative test and vax card. You are now done with the covid-related part of your trip.
  • Fly to JFK; connect to fly home to Miami. Not so bad, right?


Photo: The Cinque Terre village of Manarola. The closest international airport is in Milan, Italy (MXP). Photo by Drew Limsky

Drew Limsky
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