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Confusion as Spain blocks travellers without negative PCR tests

Passengers tell of chaotic scenes at their airports of origin as travel restrictions come into force


23 November 2020 05:28 PM


Cillian Shields | Barcelona

On the first day of Spain requiring negative PCR tests for all passengers entering the country via air or sea, Barcelona airport was quiet with little activity, and many areas of the facility completely shut off from access or use. 

The latest figures on activity in Barcelona airport show that 85% fewer passengers came in and out of Catalonia in October compared with the year before, and the lack of life in the transport hub could be clearly felt. 

In fact, fewer people managed to walk through the doors of the airport than what would have expected to, as some passengers were left in their countries of origin after not being allowed on to the aeroplane when they didn’t have negative PCR tests to present upon boarding.

  • "Half the flight was left in Italy"

    Passengers landing in Barcelona

Catalan News spoke to a group of people working for an international cruise line that travelled from Milan to Barcelona on the first day the new restrictions were introduced. They explained scenes of chaos as “half the flight was left in Italy,” with security staff not letting them board as they didn’t know about the new regulation. 

The group complained about the situation the passengers were left in, stranded in Milan with no help from Spanish authorities and no information shared. They acknowledged they were lucky enough to get their PCR tests from their company, but said that without that option, it would have been more complicated. 

Confusion among passengers

Another traveller, a Catalan woman coming from Munich to be with her family following the death of her mother-in-law, also spoke about the poor procedure in place. 

She took a PCR test at the airport in Munich the day before travelling, but she mentioned that others were only able to get their test on the day of travelling. She complained about the organisation of the process, which led to another would-be passenger on her flight to discover they were Covid positive in Germany. Naturally, they were then forbidden from making the journey to Catalonia.

Another person, a student-athlete from Castellón, made the journey from Lisbon to Barcelona today. He said it was important to get the timing of the test right, given the strict deadline of having to test negative within 72 hours of the flight. He had no difficulty acquiring the test, as he is tested weekly at his university in the United States.


  • A passenger crossing the security checkpoint after landing in Barcelona (by Cillian Shields)

  • A passenger crossing the security checkpoint after landing in Barcelona (by Cillian Shields)