GringoPost | Ecuador: (My experience) - Round-trip between Ecuador and the US (last week)

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(My experience) - Round-trip between Ecuador and the US (last week)

Hello Everyone,

As promised... here is my round-trip experience between Ecuador and the US (last week).

First off, I tried to fly out during the "volcanic ash" issues in Guayaquil, and as such had my first 3 flights canceled (after multiple delays).

Experience upon arriving at the Guayaquil airport:

- Everyone "lines up" before entering, and people are seen "one by one" to check IDs and verify a reason for being there.
- Then you place all of your bags (carry on, backpack, checked, etc.) inside an "ozone box" (some sort of disinfection system), as you walk around it. (This is all outside the front doors still, and everything within your sight the whole time.)
- Someone presses a button and "it does its thing."
- You then take your belongings, and proceed inside (having your temperature checked along the way.)

Experience inside Guayaquil airport:

- You're directed to the appropriate "check in counter" (at the time, there was Spirit and JetBlue only. American should have been there, but it had been canceled on the day I arrived.)
- Rather than "wrap around" the ropes in a typical waiting line, people were lined up down the length of the airport until the counters (wrapping around when necessary.) People were more or less spaced out "as they should be" (during these times).
~-~ At the time, my flight was further delayed by 6 - 7 hours, and I ended up in this line for about 3 hours as people in front of me complained, attempted to reschedule and/or fix connecting flights, and ultimately "check in" to wait. I arrived 2 hours before the scheduled flight, but was still "towards the back" of the line in the end.
~-~ My father reports a much shorter waiting time than I had (he flew out on Wednesday), and he arrived about 2.5 prior to the flights, with no "absurd delays" like I experienced.
-After that, it's "business as usual" with ZERO lines and delays. I had no issues passing through security, immigration, etc., and getting "to the gate" (or lounge ;D). I was not asked any "odd questions" or harassed in any way. Very straightforward.

Experience upon arriving at Fort Lauderdale airport (my final destination airport):

- Business as usual. Nothing odd, out of place, or unusual. No requirements, checks, etc. No delays at all (once we landed), and very few people/flights active. Quick & easy.

Experience of departing Fort Lauderdale airport:

- Business as usual with very few people around. Half of the airport was closed (lights off and all) and no restaurants were open. They had the one "tienda" type shop open (magazines, candy, pre-made sandwiches) and the Harvest Grounds coffee shop (no menu, very few items available, but they did have salads...so sandwich, salad, and chips would be your food options).
- At the gate I could tell "something was off" after a half hour or so... There were 6 - 8 attendants there at any given time, and many kept mentioning "volunteers." Eventually, they announced over the loud speaker (in Spanish) that they would offer a $1000 voucher, 2-night hotel stay, transportation, & food (until next flight) if someone would delay their flight. No one was interested in this, which was shocking to be honest...

They did this because they had way overbooked on people and bags. Every passenger had brought 3 - 5 bags, mostly overweight (myself included) and as such they didn't have anywhere near the space to carry them all.

These announcements continued for a while until they "gave up" and redid a few things (I think one or two people volunteered, but not enough).

- We were delayed a big longer, but eventually took off and arrived in Guayaquil. On the plane, about "an hour out" from Guayaquil, we were given two documents to fill out and sign. They were essentially "information documents" relating to our travel and/or stay in Ecuador and our "Covid Declarations" making the mandatory quarantine policy clear.

Experience arriving in Guayaquil:

This is where I wish I had sat closer to the front... 
- We disembarked very slowly. I mean very slowly, because everyone was essentially "lined up" as they left (and spaced out "accordingly"), and when they reached the gate, it was a "closed off section" with rows of chairs and a desk of 6 "staff members" (couldn't tell, wearing full quarantine gear) filling out paperwork and taking information. Each person was separated into two groups:
1) I have a negative covid test.
2) I don’t have a negative covid test.

- We were then "lined up," spaced out, and seated (when there was room, otherwise you were waiting in line or on the plane, like myself, heh) until our turn arrived.
- When it was my turn, I gave them my negative test result, 2 documents we filled out on the plane, my cedula, and my passport (not sure if both were needed, it's just what I do in EC airport) and waited.
- He checked things over, filled out something for "themselves" and then had me sign a document acknowledging my understanding of everything that was written there (policy, dates it's in effect, etc.)
- Then I walked around him, through a door, down some stairs, and continued with the normal process of things. No lines at all. No wait, etc.
- The only "odd thing" was 3 "customs officers" (looking like military police) had stopped me -- after -- I cleared everything (almost walked out the door) to ask about my money. I was a bit confused at first, thinking they maybe thought I was a tourist and needed to check to see if I had "enough cash to visit" (as I know some countries do), but in the end he wanted to make sure I didn't have more than $10,000 cash on me (No way I gave off "that vibe" at the time haha.)

Otherwise, it was a simple exit. (Minus the many unhappy people who had bags left behind... In the end, they just removed bags from the plane and said "sorry." I'm not sure what happened to those people though, as we managed to get everything here without issue. But just a heads up to people.

And that's it. I always have the same person waiting for me when I arrive, and he took me home (he had to have the correct paperwork, but again, I plan it out ahead of time). There were taxis there, and what I assume to be "drivers" (no vans/cars were up front though, so it's hard to say...tons of people offering rides), but I would honestly "set that up" in advance. The other two nights I was at the airport, not a single van or taxi was in site (Due to various restrictions, sometimes if it's after 9 PM, no one can be out. It was weird...Don't risk it in my opinion.)

So that's it... that's my experience and my view on things.
That didn't include half of the issues I faced throughout this last trip, but that's everything related to the flights, covid, etc. that everyone might face (and that's been constantly discussed).

And to clarify for some people out there, I have a very clear outline of the quarantine policy (for "normal" people... there are exceptions…i.e. people with conditions, expectant mothers, I believe individuals over the age of 65, etc..).

There is a mandated 14-day quarantine.
One that is now required of anyone entering Ecuador.
If you are a resident and have a negative covid test (within 72 hours of flight), you are allowed to quarantine at home (or your chosen location, I guess).

-- If you are not a resident, you quarantine at one of the selected hotels in the city of arrival, regardless of "test results." No matter what.

-- If you are a resident and you don't have a negative covid test (within 72 hours of flight), you quarantine at one of the selected hotels in the city of arrival. No matter what.
(This is what I was told, and what I observed with one very unhappy individual.)

Harrison Paul: info@expatenvoy.com .

City: Cuenca