New Regulations And a Travel Uptick Fueling The Delays
Travelers both to and from the US should anticipate significant wait times at the airport starting Monday, experts predict. A combination of new regulations and a beckoning travel surge have fueled the concern.
The United States has been closed for non-essential travel to most of the world for the better part of two years, and November 8th will see the Trump era regulations removed. In its place, a new vaccine mandate will be enforced dictating terms of entry for different categories of traveler.
US citizens have always been welcomed back from abroad, but travelers coming directly from the UK, Schengen Zone, China, Brazil, India, Iran, South Africa, and the Republic of Ireland have not been allowed to enter unless they had spent two weeks in an accepted country.
But as of the 8th, any fully vaccinated travelers from these countries are now permitted to cross into the United States.
The move has been highly anticipated by the travel industry both Stateside and abroad. The Biden administration was facing pressure in recent months from frustrated countries that had already loosened their own rules on Americans visitors.
But airport officials are bracing themselves and warning passengers that for all of the good news, there is going to be a messy start to the winter travel season.
Industry experts are anticipating wait times of up to 8 hours in some of the busier airports.
Many other countries have already had a vaccine system in place, with citizens able to store their health credentials digitally in the form of QR codes or other nationalized smartphone apps. But the US has only laid out the requirements, and left the processing of documents to the airlines themselves.
With no centralized system in place, and the responsibility of checking the paperwork on the airlines, bottlenecks are likely to form across the country.
Many of the major airlines have created or adapted their apps and online resources to accommodate the changes, and have as much of the processing done prior to arrival, but some of these are only checklists that still need dealt with at the check in desk.
According to Sherry Stein, who leads the technology sector for Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques (SITA) in the Americas:
“The expectation is that we could see wait times of up to eight hours”. “
That number is being touted by IATA as an expectation that if traffic resumes to the pre-Covid numbers because already the processing time per passenger has gone from one to two minutes to 16 minutes or more.”
Delta has seen an upsurge of 450% on travelers to the US, with large amount of holiday revelers heading to Orlando, New York, and Boston for vacation. As well as this, thousands of families that have been separated for two years because of restrictions are finally allowed to reconnect.
United are expecting around 30,000 passengers to fly into the US on the 8th, which is comparable to a peak season summer day, and Virgin Atlantic has reported that many of its first New York to London flights are completely full.
Passengers intending to fly in the coming weeks are strongly recommended to be as prepared as possible. Check airline websites for exact documentation processes, and ensure all members of the traveling party are meeting the requirements.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories