The United States reopens to non-essential travel for the first time in 20 months

Nov 8, 2021

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Starting today, fully vaccinated Brits can enter the United States for non-essential travel after a 20-month border closure. This moment is expected to give new life to the travel industry and mark the beginning of real recovery for corporate travel and transatlantic tourism.

Visitors from the UK, Ireland and the 26 Schengen area countries are allowed into the United States, as well as travelers from China, India, Iran, Brazil and South Africa. Travelers must provide proof of vaccination and take a test in the three days before departure in order to be able to enter the US.

Related: The United States reopens to UK travellers – the new rules and regulations explained

The moment was celebrated with a historic dual takeoff, with flights from both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic taking to the skies. Both planes left Heathrow on course for New York JFK at 8.30am on 8 November 2021.

This is the first time that many UK nationals will have been able to fly to the US since March 16 2020.

Grant Shapps, UK Transport Secretary, said: “This historic event marks a significant moment for the aviation sector. Transatlantic travel has long been at the heart of UK aviation and I’m delighted to see flights return in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”

“Thanks to the work of industry and the US-UK Experts Working Group, these vitally important flight routes will help boost the economy, protect and create British jobs and through the work of the Jet Zero Council help to build back greener.”

For airlines, this moment marks the start of a significant ramp-up in flight schedules. Most notably, British Airways is bringing back the A380 on transatlantic routes after being in storage during the pandemic.

British Airways will once again fly the A380 to the United States following its reopening. Photo by Bloomberg / Getty Images
British Airways will once again fly the A380 to the United States following its reopening. Photo by Bloomberg / Getty Images


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Virgin Atlantic also sees a major increase in transatlantic flights starting today.

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic chief executive, said: “As the UK forges its recovery from the pandemic, the reopening of the transatlantic corridor and the lifting of Presidential Order 212F acknowledges the great progress both nations have made in rolling out successful vaccine programmes.”

“The UK will now be able to strengthen ties with our most important economic partner, the US, through boosting trade and tourism.”

Featured image by Tetra Images / Getty Images

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