US travel ban lifted - live: First London-New York flights land at JFK as hotel bookings up 63 per cent

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic stage dual take-off from Heathrow to celebrate

Simon Calder crosses US border after 18 month travel ban lifted for UK tourists

After almost 20 months, the US has finally reopened to tourists.

The unprecedented travel ban, implemented in March 2020 in response to the pandemic, saw travellers from the UK, EU and various other countries worldwide allowed into the States for only a handful of “essential reasons”.

From 8 November, entry restrictions have been lifted for all fully vaccinated arrivals.

In celebration, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic staged an historic simultaneous take-off from London Heathrow’s two runways this morning.

Virgin’s VS3 was the first to land at New York’s JFK Airport, touching down at 10.51 AM local time, while British Airways’s BA001 landed a few minutes later at 11.00 AM.

“This really feels like proper travel is back – and back to something like normality,” said Mark Jones, The Independent’s correspondent who is reporting from the very first BA flight out to the US. “Except I’m FAR more excited than I’d normally be for a business trip.”

Follow all the latest updates below.

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What are the new rules for British travellers entering the US?

Six hundred days after a presidential proclamation from Donald Trump closed off the US to British visitors, the ban on arrivals from the UK has been lifted – for fully vaccinated travellers only. A similar ban on arrivals from dozens of other countries has come to an end.

Read Simon Calder’s comprehensive explainer for everything you need to know about the new system. It’s based on studying all the available official online information, plus inferences – clearly indicated – based on existing policies and background conversations with officials and airlines:

Back to the US: After travel ban lifts, how new rules for British visitors work

Arrivals who have been fully jabbed with a recognised vaccine, under-18s travelling with them, are welcome – subject to testing

Helen Coffey8 November 2021 07:51
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Travel is back with a bang

This really feels like proper travel is back – and back to something like normality. Except I’m FAR more excited than I’d normally be for a business trip.

I even spent the night in an airport hotel, the Sofitel, so I could be at the gate extra early. I’d forgotten the anonymity and ever-present low hum of airport hotels: things I actually quite like. It’s like being in an airlock between places.

(Mind, I am only spending eight hours here, not three weeks).

It’s nice to have first world worries again. The first is working out where your room is in a Sofitel. They have some fiendishly brilliant French numbering system that requires Room 2316 to be on the third floor.

The room (when I find it) is fine and soothing with oblong lamps made to look like Japanese screens and an imitation Eames chair and footstool. So nice to be able to nick white slippers and ESPA toiletries again. But WHERE is the fluffy bathrobe? WHERE? Don’t tell me they're a casualty of Covid...

Mark Jones8 November 2021 07:35
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US travel restarts

Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s travel liveblog. As the US finally reopens to British tourists, we have two correspondents out in the field reporting back: Simon Calder, who crossed the border on foot from Canada at midnight, and Mark Jones, who is onboard the first British Airways London-NYC flight since restrictions ended for vaccinated travellers.

We’ll be posting updates from their journeys throughout the day, and finding out what the “new normal” is like for US tourists in the pandemic era.

Helen Coffey8 November 2021 07:33

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