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Arrival Revival: U.S. braces for surge of international travellers

The United States is expecting a flood of international visitors crossing its borders by air and by land on Monday 8 November after lifting travel restrictions for much of the world's population first imposed in early 2020.

The United States is expecting a flood of international visitors crossing its borders by air and by land on Monday 8 November after lifting travel restrictions for much of the world’s population first imposed in early 2020.

Monday 8 November marks the reopening of the U.S. to much of the world.

United Airlines says it is expecting about 50% more total international inbound passengers 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.”

Image: Delta Air Lines

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.

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.

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 to help answer questions.

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Cloud Gate at Millenium Park, Chicago

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 travelers 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.”

New York
Times Square, Manhattan, New York City.

Here is what international air travellers to the United States need to do beginning November 8:

1. Provide proof of full vaccination status prior to boarding a plane to the United States.

  • Accepted vaccines will include those that are FDA approved or authorised, as well as vaccines with an emergency use listing (EUL) from the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Individuals can be considered fully vaccinated at least two weeks after the last dose of an accepted single-dose series or any combination of two doses of an accepted two-dose series
  • Children under 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement

2. Provide documentation of a pre-departure negative viral test from a sample taken within three days of travel to the United States.

  • Both nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs), such as a PCR test, and antigen tests qualify
  • Children between the ages of 2 and 17 are required to take a pre-departure test

3. Provide information for contact tracing to their airline such as name, phone number, email, and address while in the United States.

Click here for more information.

Source: AAP.