Surge in US flight bookings as Virgin Atlantic reports 91% boost

British travellers who have been double vaccinated will be able to travel to the US again from November

Joanna Whitehead
Tuesday 21 September 2021 09:19 BST
US travel restrictions: Vaccinated travellers from UK and EU allowed to enter from November

The relaxation of travel restrictions between the UK and the US has resulted in a surge in bookings for transatlantic flights, with Virgin Atlantic reporting a 91 per cent increase.

The carrier reported a major spike in bookings within just one hour of the travel announcement being made on Monday.

Elsewhere, British Airways told The Independent that it saw an increase of nearly 700 per cent in searches for holidays to key US destinations, such as New York, Orlando, Los Angeles and Boston, in the hours following reports around the reopening of the US-UK travel corridor.

And online travel company Skyscanner reported a 54 per cent increase in traffic to its UK site compared with the previous Monday.

Polling undertaken by the business reveals that the US ranks second as the most requested destination for easing of travel restrictions, topped only by Spain.

Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said: “The US government's announcement that fully vaccinated UK visitors will be able to enter the US from November is a major milestone to the reopening of travel at scale across the Atlantic, allowing consumers and businesses to book travel to the US with confidence.

“The UK will now be able to strengthen ties with our most important economic partner, the US, boosting trade and tourism as well as reuniting friends, families and business colleagues.”

The US has confirmed that the country will reopen to foreign nationals - including Britons - from “early November” - but will only permit entry to travellers who have had both Covid-19 vaccines.

Non-citizens visiting the United States will have to show proof of full vaccination as well as a negative Covid test taken within three days of departure, said Jeff Zients, the pandemic response coordinator for the White House.

“This new system allows us to implement strict protocols to prevent the spread of Covid from passengers flying internationally to the United States. Requiring foreign nationals travelling to the United States be fully vaccinated is based on public health,” said Zients at a press briefing on Monday.

“This is based on individuals rather than a country-based approach.”

According to Zients, the changes will take effect in “early November”, though no formal announcement has been made of an exact date.

However, The Independent’s travel correspondent Simon Calder advises keen travellers to “hold off” buying a US ticket for a week or two more.

“It is likely that airlines will quickly ramp up flights, so after the first few days fares will have settled down and availability should rise,” he said.

“So an early December trip for Christmas shopping or Florida sunshine is on the cards for vaccinated travellers.”

He added: “I suggest you hold off booking a ticket for a week or two. At present prospective travellers are bidding for a limited number of departures.

“Airlines will quickly ramp up flights once the exact timing is known, so you will have more choice and (hopefully) lower fares.”

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