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

Jun 7, 2021

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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

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 , 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 photo of the famous Cibeles Fountain in Madrid, Spain by travel1116/Getty Images.

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