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Americans welcomed back to Spain; Here's what it was like the first day

June 07, 2021
6 min read
Cibeles Fountain In Downtown Madrid, Spain
Americans welcomed back to Spain; Here's what it was like the first day
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Americans can now again enjoy enticing España once more. As we've been reporting, it's been a very stressful couple of weeks for Americans hoping to go to Spain. Back in May, we first heard Spain would reopen on June 7, and then there were reports that Americans might not be able to go until June 30 or even later.

Well, after some last-minute maneuvering, Spain reopened to Americans today after all.

The Points Guy reader Liz Ender sent TPG founder Brian Kelly a note that she would be among the first American visitors to get to Spain. Naturally, we wanted to hear her story. She and her brother Brian Ender made the last-minute plans the moment they heard Spain would reopen back in May.

We talked to Liz and Brian Ender today about the brother-and-sister trip. They flew New York-JFK to Madrid, Spain's Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport (MAD), and landed at 8:45 a.m... probably among the very first Americans under the new rules.

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(Screenshot courtesy/ Instagram/The Points Guy founder Brian Kelly)

Brian Ender told me Spain is one of his favorite countries; he studied abroad in Spain and he's gone back at least 10 times. He told me he and his sister Liz are "impulsive," and when they heard Spain was reopening, they booked tickets on Delta One without second-guessing themselves.

Related: Country-by-country guide to reopenings

Madrid, June 7, 2021. (Photo by Brian Ender for The Points Guy)

Brian said, "When I saw it was going to reopen on June 7, My birthday is on June 6th. (I thought there's) no better way to spend my birthday than going to my favorite country."

Related: I was one of the first Americans on a COVID-tested flight to Italy

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They told me the airlines don't ask when you book if you are allowed to go or not under the rules covering entry during COVID-19. Brian said, "Once you book the flight, they'll start emailing you. You might need this test, but they don't say you shouldn't book this."

Madrid at night, June 7, 2021. (Photo by Liz Ender for the Points Guy)

I asked them if they were nervous since the rules kept changing ahead of time. Brian said, "It did get a little tense. I did a lot of reading, translating what they (the Spanish government) put out, IATA, etc." They were also reading TPG articles on the reopening -- articles that were updated at least four times!

The pair told me they were both nervous. Brian said, "I couldn't get a straight answer."

They even emailed the U.S. embassy in Madrid and the consulate in Washington D.C., but "even the embassies didn't have the info."

Related: Everything you need to know about Europe's digital "vaccine passports"

Brian said, "We knew there was a bit of a risk, but I was willing to take a chance... We're brave."

Brian continued:

"We called Delta a few times. I tried to get information about PCR test or not. I was told I would need a PCR test or would be denied boarding at JFK. We erred on the side "we're not getting a test. I was reading in Spanish that we wouldn't need it. So we went to counter and they only asked for vaccine card, your Spain QR code and no mention of a test despite the Delta App saying I would need a test. It turned out to be the right choice."

Brain says, "I will confirm 100% that vaccinated Americans did not need to show a PCR test in Spain -- only that we had our two vaccine doses taken within 15 days and the QR code (from Spain Travel Health (SpTH) form)."

They told me that nobody ever asked for test results, and, in fact, at the gate, they were only asked for their passports.

Liz said that once they arrived, they were super nervous. They were the first ones off the plane. At first, the border patrol agent didn't know what to make of it when they got to the window and told him they were Americans there for tourism. They showed the agent their vaccine cards and their passports, and she said he looked "confused" and went to get a supervisor. Liz said they never said two words to the agent or his supervisor. Eventually, after much deliberation, their passports were stamped and they were waived through. They did have one more stop to show QR codes to workers dressed in PPE, but that was it. Welcome to Spain.

Related: Why you shouldn't miss Madrid on your next trip to Spain

Interestingly, after they arrived, the Spanish consulate wrote back to them with the new rules:

"From June 7th onwards, all passengers departing from the U.S. to Spain shall be granted entry if they can prove upon arrival, with their vaccination card, that they completed their vaccination process more than 15 days earlier. This requisite does not exempt from obtaining a visa for those categories who are required to. In all cases, it will be compulsory to obtain a QR code in the site https://www.spth.gob.es/ , prior to boarding."
Madrid at night, June 7, 2021. (Photo by Liz Ender for The Points Guy)

I asked Liz and Brian if it was worth all the stress. Liz said, "Definitely worth it. We've been cooped up... we love traveling. It was hard for us not to be on an airplane."

Brian told me, "Once we got in, knowing that we are one of the few global tourists in the country at the moment is very gratifying. People asking where we're coming from; they are generally happy to have us back."

Related: The cheapest way to get to Spain with points and miles

If you want to know more about the rules for visiting Spain, you can check out this article. Vaccinated Americans can enter Spain without a negative COVID-19 PCR test. Unvaccinated travelers from the US still are not permitted to enter if traveling for tourism purposes.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.