Travellers Line Up For U.S. Flights As Curbs Are Lifted For First Time

By Dave Simpson
Travellers Line Up For U.S. Flights As Curbs Are Lifted For First Time

Travellers excited at the prospect of seeing family and friends for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began took off for the United States on Monday November 8 as it lifted travel restrictions slapped on much of the world for the best part of two years.

The travel ban, first imposed in early 2020, had barred access to non-U.S. citizens travelling from 33 countries - including China, India and much of Europe - and had also restricted overland entry from Mexico and Canada.

The United States lagged many other countries in lifting the curbs, made possible by the rollout of vaccines despite rising infections in many countries and critical to reviving tourism around the globe.

Months of pent-up demand triggered a major spike in bookings on Monday, with travellers only required to show official proof of vaccination and a recent, negative viral test.

"Really, really exciting. I mean, I was meant to go just before COVID happened, and obviously it's been delayed this long, so it's really exciting to finally be able to go," Alice Keane, travelling to Miami to see her sister, said at London's Heathrow airport.


Long-term rivals British Airways and Virgin Atlantic carried out simultaneous take-offs from Heathrow's parallel runways just before 0900 GMT on Monday November 8, a stunt aimed at highlighting the importance of the transatlantic market to the UK's aviation market.

The flights were full, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said, while passenger volume was expected to remain high in coming weeks with the approach of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"It's a major day of celebration," Weiss said, adding that planes were "filling up nicely", in what he called a significant tipping point for an industry brought to its knees by the pandemic.

The United States was preparing for long lines and delays on Monday November 8, with United Airlines alone expecting about 50% more total international inbound passengers compared to last Monday (November 1) when it had about 20,000.

Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) Chief Executive Ed Bastian warned travellers should be prepared for long waits.


"It's going to be a bit sloppy at first. I can assure you, there will be lines unfortunately," Bastian said, adding that "we'll get it sorted out".

The prospect of long queues did little to dent the enthusiasm of those preparing to be reunited with loved ones.

"I think we might just start crying," Bindiya Patel, who was going to see her one-year-old nephew in New York for the first time, said at Heathrow, where jugglers dressed in the colour of the U.S. flags greeted travellers.

Restrictions on non-U.S. citizens were first imposed on air travellers from China in January 2020 by then-President Donald Trump and then extended to dozens of other countries, without any clear metrics for how and when to lift them.

In January, Trump issued an order to lift travel restrictions on people in Europe and Brazil. But the order was reversed by President Joe Biden before it took effect.


U.S. allies had heavily lobbied the Biden administration, which had repeatedly said it did not endorse so-called "vaccine passports," to lift the rules.

Airline officials stressed that tourism and family trips alone will not be enough for carriers whose profits depend on filling the most expensive seats.

Experts say the real battle of the transatlantic, the world's most lucrative travel market, takes place at the front of the plane, in first, business, and premium economy class, where those paying the top prices help drive airline profits.

"As for business, we know the recovery is slower and so it's a question mark but what we know is that there are a certain number of sectors, especially domestic and medium-haul travel, where recovery is already happening and we hope to see this same tendency for the United States," said Air France-KLM commercial co-director, Henri de Peyrelongue.

U.S. land borders also reopened to non-essential travel on Monday November 8, though some inoculated Mexicans will not be able to enter the United States immediately if they received vaccines in Mexico that have not been approved by the World Health Organization, such as China's CanSino and Russia's Sputnik V.


"I never imagined that because I got the CanSino vaccine I wouldn't be able to cross," lamented Donato Suarez, a driver at a private university in Tijuana who had hoped to visit relatives in the United States he has not seen for nearly two years.

Hundreds of migrants have arrived at Mexican border cities such as Tijuana in recent days, hoping the reset will make it easier to cross and seek U.S. asylum and despite warnings from advocates that the re-opening is for people who have papers.

In Canada, long lines formed overnight at U.S. border points for an early rush of travellers but a Canadian requirement that all returning travellers have a negative PCR test is expected to dampen travel.

Canada, which allowed fully vaccinated Americans to cross the land border in August, is under pressure to drop the negative test requirement from businesses and travellers, who say showing proof of vaccination should be enough.

At the land border crossings from Mexico and Canada, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will ask travellers if they have been vaccinated and will spot-check some documentation.

Under-18s are exempt from the new vaccine requirements. Non-tourist travellers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10% are also eligible for exemption.

U.S. Looks To Coax Tourists Back After Long Restrictions

The Biden administration said on Monday November 8 that it is awarding $314 million in grants to 34 states and the District of Columbia to revitalize travel and tourism - two industries hard hit by COVID-19.

The funding, part of a broader COVID-19 relief package approved by Congress, comes as the United States on Monday lifted travel restrictions on fully vaccinated foreign nationals flying from 33 countries and from tourists crossing land borders from Mexico and Canada that have been in place starting in early 2020.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Reuters in an interview "travel and tourism is one of the hardest hit industries." The industry is still struggling but will get a "shot in the arm" from the new demand.

She said "people are anxious to travel...The demand is there. I think we're going to see real increases in travel."

The United States was behind much of the world in lifting travel restriction and had Raimondo argued internally for easing them. "I pounded the table on that. I think it's important for the economy," she told Reuters.

International arrivals to the United States fell 75.5% in 2020, while spending by foreign nationals coming to the United States fell 64.3%, by about $150 billion.

Communities along the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada were especially hard hit as were places like Florida that cater to foreign tourists.

"Prior to the pandemic, Canadians made hundreds of thousands of cross-border trips – both day trips and overnight stays -- amounting to nearly a billion dollars of annual expenditures" into New York State," said Patrick Kaler, President and CEO of Visit Buffalo Niagara at an event Monday.

United Airlines President Brett Hart said he expects international travel to return to pre-pandmeic levels in 2022, but places like Asia are lagging even as forward bookings for Europe are now surpassing 2019 levels.

"Chicago is a global city, it relies in large measure on tourism," Hart said in an interview. "As people start to come here, we'll see the industry start to pick back up."

U.S. Travel estimates that declines in international visitation since March 2020 resulted in nearly $300 billion in lost export income and estimates that the international inbound travel segment will not recover to 2019 levels until at least 2024.

U.S. Travel says one key need is to fully reopen and resume visitor visa processing at U.S embassies to reduce the backlog for future visitors.

Countries not part of the Visa Waiver program are facing "long wait times in excess of 14 months for a visitor visa appointment," U.S. Travel said.

The countries affected by restricted travel that was lifted Monday for fully vaccinated travelers included Britain Ireland, the 26 Schengen Area countries, South Africa, Iran, Brazil, India and China.

They comprised 17% of all countries worldwide but accounted for a disproportionate 53% of all overseas visitors to the United States in 2019, U.S. Travel said.

An Emotional Journey: Families Reunite In U.S. With Tears, Balloons As COVID Travel Ban Ends

Paul Campbell had waited nearly two years to reunite with his German fiancée at Boston's Logan airport on Monday November 8, the day the United States eased travel restrictions imposed on much of the world since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

"I'm just ecstatic that she's here, I'm happy," said Campbell, 63, a retired firefighter from Vermont who greeted her with a heart-shaped balloon. "Our relationship is still thriving even though we've been apart for two years."

At John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, a child held a sign reading, "Do I look bigger?" as he waited for the first British Airways flight from London's Heathrow. "730 days missed u! Aunty Jill + Uncle Mark," his sign said.

The travel ban, imposed since early 2020, barred access to non-U.S. citizens travelling from 33 countries - including China, India and much of Europe - and had also restricted overland entry from Mexico and Canada.

While travel continued for residents of other countries and visitors falling under exceptions, the ban eliminated the sources of more than half the visitors to the United States in 2019, according to trade group U.S. Travel, primarily tourists and other non-essential travellers to the United States.

"Today, America is open for business. That is our message to the world," U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Reuters in an interview at Chicago's O'Hare airport.

For many arriving on packed flights from Europe or lining up at border crossings in Canada and Mexico, Monday's was an emotional journey that ended in the arms of joyful relatives clutching flowers, balloons and homemade signs.

Months of pent-up demand triggered a major spike in bookings on Monday, with travellers only required to show official proof of vaccination and a recent, negative viral test. Travel bookings for the holiday season in the United States continue to rise rapidly, according to airlines and industry data.

No major issues at airports were flagged in an early morning call among airlines and U.S. government officials although authorities have warned about possible long queues  and delays.

Earlier, long-term rivals British Airways and Virgin Atlantic carried out simultaneous take-offs from Heathrow's parallel runways, a stunt aimed at highlighting the importance of transatlantic business to the UK's aviation sector.

"It's a major day of celebration," Weiss said, adding that planes were "filling up nicely," in what he called a significant tipping point for an industry brought to its knees by the pandemic.

U.S. land borders also reopened to non-essential travel on Monday.

Canadian travellers, particularly retirees headed to U.S. sun spots, flocked to the U.S. land border to drive across for the first time in 20 months, although testing requirements could dampen short-stay travel. Janet Simoni, who lives in London, Ontario crossed the U.S.-Canada border just after midnight and drove to the house near Detroit where her husband lives.

"This whole half of my life has been missing for almost two years," said Simoni.

In Mexico's Ciudad Juarez, across from the Texan city of El Paso, a line of about 20 people formed early. They crossed and embraced family on the other side of the border, a Reuters witness said.

"We thought they were going to tell us again that they had decided not to open it," said Lorena Hernandez, stroking her grown-up daughter's hair and smiling broadly after they were reunited in El Paso. "I said, if they don't reopen, I’m going to take a plane."

Hundreds of migrants have arrived at Mexican border cities such as Tijuana in recent days, hoping the reset will make it easier to cross and seek U.S. asylum, despite warnings from advocates that the re-opening is for people who have papers.

Aysha Mathew struggled to hold back tears after her mother and sister arrived at New York's JFK airport on Monday, fresh off the first British Airways flight from London's Heathrow.

Mathew was holding her toddler, Adam, and pushing a stroller with her infant, Aaron, whom her mother and sister were meeting for the first time.

"It's so surreal to finally be here and see them meet in person," Mathew said. "I'm really, really happy."

U.S. allies had heavily lobbied the Biden administration to lift the rules.

While cheering the resumption of the two-way transatlantic traffic, airline officials stressed that tourism and family trips alone will not be enough for carriers whose profits depend on filling the most expensive seats.

According to U.S. Travel, declines in international visitation since the start of the pandemic resulted in nearly $300 billion in lost export income and a loss of more than one million U.S. jobs.

Lagging Business Travel Takes Shine Off Transatlantic Restart

Planes poured across the North Atlantic towards the United States on Monday November 8, a boon for airlines after 19 months of travel restrictions - but that alone won't be enough for carriers whose profits depend on filling the most expensive seats.

Experts say the real battle of the transatlantic, the world's most lucrative travel market, takes place at the front of the plane, in first, business, and premium economy class, where those paying the top prices help drive airline profits.

Question marks remain over the pace and extent of the return of corporate travel budgets, after the pandemic showed online calls and virtual meetings offered a workable alternative.

That's mixed news for the likes of British Airways parent IAG and Germany's Lufthansa, whose profits have in the past been buoyed by corporates spending more by booking closer to departure and flying at more convenient times.

Shares in IAG fell 2.6% on Monday after shrugging off warnings of a big 2021 loss to close higher on overall transatlantic travel hopes on Friday..

Some business travellers are desperate to get back over the pond.

"We are in a relationship business and travelling is necessary to meet clients, to win deals," said Anthony Diamandakis, Citi's co-global head of Global Asset Managers.

For smaller, non-financial businesses too, travel is essential for trade.

"In my experience of the USA, it's a people market - deals get done face to face, with a handshake and looking into each other's eyes," Tony Kinsella, chief executive of UK-based materials development and testing company Lucideon, said.

The United States is allowing fully-vaccinated Britons and Europeans to enter from Monday, fully re-opening to two-way traffic for the first time since the pandemic started.

"USA, here we come," said Kinsella, who already has his tickets booked.

Most experts believe that corporate travel will lag the recovery in leisure travel.

U.S. spending on corporate travel is expected to reach only 25%-35% of 2019 levels by the fourth quarter of 2021, and 65%-80% a year later, according to a Deloitte survey of 150 travel managers.

One British FTSE 100-listed company, which did not want to be named, said it planned to reduce travel for internal meetings next year by two-thirds on 2019 levels, and by one-third for external meetings.

That means the full transatlantic restart might not be as lucrative as airlines would hope.

Europe-based carriers tend to be more reliant on transatlantic revenues than their U.S. competitors.

Pre-pandemic, those routes accounted for more than 26% of IAG's revenues and over 24% of Lufthansa's, according to Bernstein analyst estimates.

That compares with between 11% and 17% of passenger revenues at U.S. carriers American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, and 16% of Air France-KLM's.

UK-based Virgin Atlantic is even more exposed, with an estimated 60-70% of its revenues coming from transatlantic routes.

Airlines do not break down transatlantic profitability, but one analyst estimates that at IAG for instance, first class, business class and premium economy flying account for more than half of the profits it makes from transatlantic flying.

John Grant of global travel data specialist OAG does not expect transatlantic business travel to start to show any significant recovery until the second quarter of 2022.

"Major conferences in the first quarter of next year have already in many cases been cancelled since the planning cycle is so long," he said.

"Companies want to be sure that there is revenue to be had from such trips, so they will be waiting to see how economies and trade recover."

Airlines are going to be looking to leisure travellers to fill the gap left by corporates, and after months of lockdowns their pockets will be deeper, encouraging them to splash out on that premium economy or business class seat.

According to Willie Walsh, IAG's former chief executive who now heads up global airlines body IATA, the importance of corporate travel to airlines is often overstated.

"Everybody assumes that people travelling in the premium cabins are travelling for business. They're not," he told a recent industry event.

Airlines are trying harder than usual to entice leisure customers to upgrade given the dearth of business travellers.

"We're seeing when people do take that trip, they're thinking more of the experience," said Virgin Atlantic's CEO Shai Weiss.

IAG, Lufthansa and Virgin have spoken of strong demand for premium travel, and said that there are also signs that business travel is returning.

Delta also said last month that its corporate bookings for Europe doubled to 30% of 2019 levels following the reopening announcement.

OAG's Grant said pent-up demand and seasonal holidays had helped lift fares on transatlantic routes in recent weeks, and the market would likely remain strong until mid-January.

"The absence of business travel will make the airlines wary of adding capacity back too quickly in the first three months of next year," he said.

Transatlantic Travel Restart Means The World To Virgin Atlantic, Says Boss

The reopening of the United States to British travellers will help all airlines operating between the two countries, but for UK-based transatlantic-focussed Virgin Atlantic, it means "the world", its chief executive said.

"Virgin would not be Virgin without the Atlantic," CEO Shai Weiss said in an interview. "This is the market that is at the heart of everything that we do."

Virgin Atlantic, founded by billionaire Richard Branson, is 51% owned by Branson's Virgin Group with the balance held by Delta Air Lines.

In 2020, it came close to collapse as COVID-19 travel bans hammered business. Pre-pandemic it had depended on trans-Atlantic travel for as much as 70% of its revenues.

The last of those bans ended on Monday November 8 when the United States reopened for fully vaccinated UK travellers. Since August, Virgin has also benefited from the UK opening to vaccinated U.S. citizens.

Weiss said that he was very pleased with ticket sales to the United States, adding that there was strong demand for the Thanksgiving holidays and the lead-up to Christmas.

Asked about the next three to six months, he said there was "positive momentum".

British Airways owner IAG said on Friday November 5 that it was "very optimistic" about the reopening of trans-Atlantic travel.

Virgin survived the pandemic thanks to a 1.5 billion pound rescue deal between Sept. 2020 and March 2021 and axing around half its staff to cut costs.

Asked if there were any current funding worries for Virgin, Weiss said: "No."

"Now that things are opening up we're in a better position. I think we're going to further strengthen our balance sheet," he said, without giving details of what Virgin was planning.

Reports have said the airline is considering floating next year, but Weiss declined to comment on "market speculation".

What You Need To Know About The New U.S. International Air Travel Rules

The Biden administration's new rules requiring most foreign nationals to be vaccinated before flying to the United States took effect at 12:01 a.m. EST (0501 GMT) Nov. 8.

Here's what you need to know:

* Starting Nov. 8, foreign air travellers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to fly to the United States, with limited exceptions.

* Passengers will need to show an "official source" showing vaccination status, and airlines will need to match the name and date of birth to confirm the passenger is the same person reflected on the proof of vaccination.

* The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said it will accept U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved or authorized and World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listed vaccines.

* All travellers must produce a negative viral test result within three days prior to travel to the United States. Unvaccinated U.S. citizens and others getting exemptions must provide a negative test taken within one day before traveling.

* Children under 18 are excepted from the vaccination requirement but children between the ages of 2 and 17 are required to take a pre-departure test. Unvaccinated foreign nationals under 18 will not https://www.reuters.com/world/us/cdc-clarifies-unvaccinated-young-foreign-travelers-do-not-need-quarantine-2021-10-30 have to self-quarantine upon arrival.

* If traveling with a fully vaccinated adult, an unvaccinated child can test three days prior to departure, but if an unvaccinated child is traveling alone or with unvaccinated adults, they will have to test within one day before departure.

* Exemptions include certain COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial participants, those with valid medical reasons for not getting vaccinated and those who need to travel for emergency or humanitarian reasons, but they will need a U.S. government-issued letter affirming the urgent need to travel.

* The CDC said there are no exceptions https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/proof-of-vaccination.html#faq-overview for the vaccine requirements "for religious reasons or other moral convictions."

* Non-tourist travellers from nearly 50 countries https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#global-vaccinations with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10% will be exempt from the requirements but must agree within 60 days to get vaccinated under most conditions.

* Travelers must sign an attestation https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/pdf/vax-order-passenger-attestation-10-25-21-p.pdf that they have been vaccinated and are warned that "wilfully providing false or misleading information may lead to criminal fines and imprisonment."

* The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) plans https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/cruise/pdf/Vax-Order-10-25-21-p.pdf to issue a security directive that provides the legal basis for airlines to check vaccine records.

* The CDC also issued a Contact Tracing Order https://www.cdc.gov/quarantine/pdf/CDC-Global-Contact-Tracing-Order-10-25-2021-p.pdf that requires all airlines flying into the United States to collect and keep on hand for 30 days and disclose to the CDC if needed contact information including phone numbers, email and U.S. addresses that will allow health officials to track infections. The collection requirements take effect Nov. 8.

*The CDC released a travel assessment https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/international-travel/travel-assessment/index.html tool on Monday for people planning international trips, including an extensive question and answer https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/proof-of-vaccination.html#faq section for travellers.

U.S. Braces For Surge Of Vaccinated International Travellers

The above news followed the following earlier news: The United States is expecting a flood of international visitors crossing its borders by air and by land on Monday November after lifting travel restrictions for much of the world's population first imposed in early 2020 to address the spread of COVID-19.

United Airlines is expecting about 50% more total international inbound passengers Monday compared to last Monday when it had about 20,000.

And Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Ed Bastian has warned travellers should be prepared for initial long lines.

"It's going to be a bit sloppy at first. I can assure you, there will be lines unfortunately," Bastian said, adding that "we'll get it sorted out".

Delta said in the six weeks since the U.S reopening was announced it has seen a 450% increase in international point-of-sale bookings versus the six weeks prior to the announcement.

White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said on Twitter "As we expect high demand when the US lifts its existing air and land travel restrictions Monday, we are taking critical steps to be prepared by providing additional resources."

The Biden administration has held multiple calls with U.S. airlines to prepare for the influx of additional travellers that will begin arriving at U.S. airports and has warned travellers crossing from Canada and Mexico by land or ferry to be prepared for longer waits starting Monday.

For Bhavna Patel, a flight from London will take her to New York on Monday to see her first grandchild after more than a year of watching him grow via FaceTime.

The rules have barred most non-U.S. citizens who within the prior 14 days have been in 33 countries -- the 26 Schengen countries in Europe without border controls, China, India, South Africa, Iran, Brazil, Britain and Ireland.

Trade group U.S. Travel said the countries accounted for 53% of all overseas visitors to the United States in 2019 and border communities were hit hard by the loss of tourists crossing from Mexico and Canada. The group estimates declines in international visitation "resulted in nearly $300 billion in lost export income" since March 2020.

U.S. airlines are boosting flights to Europe and other destinations that were impacted by the restrictions. Airlines are planning events on Monday with executives meeting some of the first flights.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and United Airlines President Brett Hart are holding an event at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport Monday to mark the reopening.

U.S. officials plan an Instagram live chat on Nov. 9 https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=253626883467036&set=a.227341039428954 to help answer questions.

Many international flights are expected to operate close to full or full on Monday, with high passenger volume throughout the following weeks.

Airlines will check vaccination documentation for international travellers as they currently do for COVID-19 test results. At land border crossings, U.S. Customs and Border Protection will ask if travellers have been vaccinated and spot check some documentation.

Children under 18 are exempt from the new vaccine requirements. Non-tourist travellers from nearly 50 countries with nationwide vaccination rates of less than 10% will also be eligible for exemption.

Also Monday, new contact tracing rules will take effect requiring airlines to collect information from international air passengers if needed "to follow up with travellers who have been exposed to COVID-19 variants or other pathogens."

Grandmother And Grandson Finally To Meet As U.S. Flights Reopen

The above news also followed the following earlier news: For over a year Bhavna Patel has watched her first grandchild grow via FaceTime, talking to him in New York every day while the U.S. travel restrictions prevented her from making the trip from London.

On Monday November 8 she is threatening to dance down the aisle of the British Airways plane that will take her to finally meet him, as the United States lifts COVID-19 restrictions that have barred much of the world from entering for over 20 months.

Already she is too excited to sleep, counting down the days, hours and minutes, and wants the world to know of her news. She would also like to wear a large hat announcing that she is about to meet her grandson, Kai.

"I wake up in the night and think: are we really going?" she told Reuters in her home in south London, throwing her hands in the air with excitement. "It'll just be amazing to hold him."

The unprecedented restrictions have prevented loved ones and foreign workers from reuniting with families, attending weddings, saying goodbye at funerals, and greeting new babies.

Patel's son Kushal moved to New York more than six years ago and his most recent visit back, in 2019, is a distant memory. He FaceTimed his family from the hospital in New York to introduce his son and had been urging them to book tickets the second the borders reopened.

For his mother, the hardest part about the separation was not knowing when it would end, and questions from well-meaning friends asking when she would meet her grandson.

"It's that question, it really takes something out of you," she said, blinking back tears and looking at photos of her family in New York. "It's like putting a nail in the heart and knocking. And now I can say: Look, I'm going!"

Patel and her daughter Bindiya will be on BA001, the first New York-bound BA flight leaving Heathrow on Monday, when the U.S. reopens to fully vaccinated international visitors.

The British flag carrier is marking the reopening of the Europe-to-U.S. route with a first flight reserved for friends and families separated during the pandemic, taking royal family photographer Chris Floyd along to capture the moment.

Such is the importance to European airlines of the transatlantic route, BA and Virgin Atlantic are hoping to send two jets down Heathrow's twin runways for a synchronised takeoff, weather permitting.

On BA001, Bindiya will be carrying the British Cadbury's chocolate her brother has missed. She wonders how Kai will react when he sees his family "in 3D" for the first time.

"It's a real pinch-me moment," she said at their home, where balloons still celebrate Kai's birthday in October.

Restrictions on non-U.S. citizens were first imposed on air travellers from China in January 2020 by then-President Donald Trump and extended to dozens of other countries afterwards.

Bhavna Patel said she would be thinking of all the other families around the world who have not yet had the chance to reunite. She is also worried that an 8-hour flight will feel far too long.

"I don't think counting days is enough, not days, it's hours, minutes," she said. "I want to meet him. Monday is too late, that's how I feel."

News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

Aer Lingus Celebrates The Return Of Non-Essential Travel To The US

In a statement published on its website, Aer Lingus said, "Aer Lingus celebrates the welcome return of non-essential travel to the US from today, following the lifting of the entry ban that has been in place for 20 months. Almost every Aer Lingus seat to the USA this week is booked, as the airline operates 70 flights  to / from US favourites New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington DC. The airline will operate 16* transatlantic routes in 2022 and plans to increase its transatlantic capacity over the coming months, anticipating strong customer demand in the months ahead reconnecting families, friends and colleagues.

"To celebrate, the airline has launched a 48-hour flash sale offering €100 off return flights. The sale ends at midnight tomorrow, 09 November.

"Direct flights are now available to top destinations including New York, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Orlando, Washington, Seattle and Philadelphia from as little as €169 each way including taxes and charges. Aer Lingus will also re-introduce flying from Shannon in March to New York and Boston with 14 flights per week to the USA.

"The reopening of non-essential travel is hugely significant for the US-Irish business community and the business travel market. According to the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, there are over 800 US companies in Ireland, employing 180,000 people. And over 650 Irish companies have a base in the US.

"In order to make travel easier, Aer Lingus has partnered with VeriFLY. By downloading the VeriFLY app and uploading Covid-19 related documentation required for their destination, Aer Lingus customers can ensure that all of their Covid-19 related documentation is verified before travel.

"Aer Lingus has also extended its market-leading 'Book with Confidence' policy which allows all customers travelling with the airline to change their travel dates free of charge, and as many times as they wish, up to seven days before they travel. The flexible booking policy is available on all bookings up until 30th September 2022.**

"In a further boost to Irish tourism Aer Lingus is delighted to support the return of US College Football to the Aviva Stadium next summer. The Aer Lingus College Football Classic will see the teams and thousands of Northwestern Wildcats and the Nebraska Cornhuskers supporters travel to Ireland during August 2022, and the much-anticipated Navy-Notre Dame fixture is to return to the Aviva Stadium in August 2023.

"Lynne Embleton, CEO of Aer Lingus, said, 'Today marks a very important moment for Aer Lingus, the travel and tourism sector and the whole Irish economy. Aer Lingus will reconnect friends and family, businesses and colleagues on both sides of the Atlantic. After 20 long months, we are re-establishing Dublin Airport as the most efficient connecting hub between the US and Europe.'

"Peter O'Neill, COO of Aer Lingus, said, 'Customers travelling to the USA are advised to check details about the latest travel requirements on AerLingus.com, as the entry requirements change from today. To make the process easier for our customers, we have invested in VeriFLY a travel pass app that allows users to upload and ensure that their travel documentation is checked and approved before travelling to the airport. Aer Lingus customers cannot check-in online ahead of flights to / from the USA unless they use VeriFLY. This will allow customers to get their online boarding pass and go straight to bag drop / boarding gate, and avoid queuing at check-in. Our teams across the airline are looking forward to welcoming customers back to the airport and back on-board.'"

Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.