Delta set to trial COVID- and quarantine-free flights between US and Italy

Nov 27, 2020

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Delta is the last of the Big 3 U.S. carriers to jump on the wagon of offering COVID-19-free flights between the U.S. and Europe. However, it says that it’s the first to offer a quarantine-free experience when travelling to Italy.

On Thursday, the Atlanta-based carrier announced that it will launch quarantine-free, COVID-free travel between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) and Aeroporti di Roma Fiumicino (FCO). The trial is still subject to a decree from the Italian government, although it is expected to be issued soon.

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As of 19 December 2020, Delta’s new trial will test customers and crew on the airline’s newly relaunched flight between ATL and FCO. In total, the trial will include four testing points for eligible travellers:

  1. A COVID-19 PCR test, taken up to 72 hours before departure;
  2. A rapid test administered at the airport in Atlanta before boarding;
  3. A rapid test on arrival in Rome-Fiumicino; and
  4. A rapid test at Rome-Fiumicino before departure back to the U.S.

This doesn’t mean that Americans can now freely travel to Italy as tourists. However, Americans who are approved to travel for essential reasons, such as for work, health or education, will be able to do so without having to quarantine on arrival.

Additionally, the U.S. is still closed to non-U.S. citizens who have been in Europe in the past 14 days. So, the Delta trial does not mean that Italian tourists can now enter the U.S. directly from Rome.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that the White House was considering removing that ban on European travel to the U.S., however, nothing has yet been confirmed.

“Carefully designed COVID-19 testing protocols are the best path for resuming international travel safely and without quarantine until vaccinations are widely in place,” said Delta’s President of International and Executive Vice President of Global Sales Steve Sear.

Delta partnered with experts from the Mayo Clinic to review how it could safely implement testing protocols.

“Based on the modelling we have conducted, when testing protocols are combined with multiple layers of protection, including mask requirements, proper social distancing and environmental cleaning, we can predict that the risk of COVID-19 infection – on a flight that is 60 percent full – should be nearly one in a million,” said Henry Ting, chief value officer at Mayo Clinic.

Last week, Oneworld carriers American and British Airways announced they were set to trial a testing regime for flights between the U.S. and London. Beginning 25 November, the two carriers started testing passengers on the following flights: AA50 from Dallas/Fort Worth to London, BA268 from Los Angeles to London and BA114 from New York JFK to London.

Related: Oneworld carriers American, British Airways to trial testing regime for US-UK flights

Additionally, last week, the first United flight with a pre-flight testing requirement for all passengers and crew landed at London Heathrow from Newark. For its trial, United plans to offer the testing on all UA14 flights from Newark (EWR) to LHR until 11 December.

Related: First United flight with free COVID testing for passengers lands at Heathrow

Featured photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy.

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