FOLLOWING the death of my mother-in-law, my German wife and I made a three-day trip to Frankfurt in order to deal with necessary documentation at a Registry Office, a Probate Court, a Bank and the German Red Cross as well as sorting through possessions and disposing of unwanted furniture.

We took advantage of a newly introduced daily Lufthansa flight between Bristol and Frankfurt.

Although on a tight schedule, each of our various appointments had been set up in advance by phone so that everything went like clockwork and each task was successfully completed. Proof of being double-vaccinated was sufficient to enter Germany.

The return journey to the UK was more complicated.

In the midst of the short trip, we completed the Locator Forms for re-entry back into the United Kingdom. We had already pre-booked and paid for our mandatory ‘Day 2 after return’ Covid test.

We then located a Pharmacy in Germany willing to give us the Covid tests that had to be taken within the three days before our return flight. After taking such tests we were given certified documents confirming that we had both tested negative.

At Frankfurt Airport on Wednesday morning we checked-in and were issued with our Boarding Passes. After entering the Departure Lounge we reached our particular Flight Gate where when we got to the head of a queue our documents were again checked by a clerk at the desk.

Then came something of a shock - ‘These Covid Test Certificates cannot be accepted because they are in German but they must either be in English, Spanish or French,’ she said.

‘My goodness, dios mio, mon dieu!’ I said, simultaneously, ‘Surely logic dictates that because the Covid Tests had to be taken within the past three days here in Germany, they were more likely to be expressed in German rather than in those other languages?’

‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘I am German and of course I can see that your Covid Test Certificates are properly stamped, signed, dated and that they are perfectly legitimate. But these are not my rules. They are your British Government’s rules. I am just doing my job and I cannot let you board the plane without having seen such certification expressed either in English, French or Spanish. We have experienced the same problem here each day during this past week and several passengers have not been permitted to take the flight.’

We glanced at the clock. It was 25 minutes before the flight’s take-off time.

‘Well, what do you suggest we do?’ I ask the clerk. ‘You could ask the Pharmacy that did the test to re-issue it to you either in English, French or Spanish,’ she replied, as we moved away to allow other her to deal with other passengers.

By a stroke of luck my wife happened to have a mobile phone with her. By a stroke of luck, she managed to get through to the Pharmacist who had taken our tests two days ago who, by a stroke of luck, just happened to be on duty.

By a stroke of luck, she remembered us and agreed to drop everything and rattle off an English version of the certificates and to send them to us.

Thankfully, 10 minutes later the email arrived and, on showing the English version to the German desk clerk, she was sufficiently satisfied to allow us to pass through and board a bus that would take us to the plane.

There were still more passengers behind us which resulted in the flight departure being delayed by half an hour. Among them was one young lady who got unceremoniously turned back.

One can’t help feeling that pettiness over a European language leading to such performance needs a re-think.

On arrival at Bristol Airport there were no further document checks other than Passport Control.