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International Passengers Could Face 8 Hour Wait Times At U.S. Airports Starting Monday

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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. 

Airports anticipating high wait times

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.

Vaccine document check in airport

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.

airport terminal walkway busy

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.

man in mask looking at departures

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.”

visitors flocking to Disney world Orlando

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.

virgin Atlantic plane

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.

plane flying over New York

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Helen Henderson

Wednesday 10th of November 2021

Scotland "Covid Passport" has been rejected on Qatar flights. There is no hope.

Felix Melloul

Saturday 6th of November 2021

I just came back from international travel I find out that no country is accepting the cdc card with vaccines information cause they don’t have a barcode checked with cdc health departments and others NO ONE HAS A CLUE or where to get one no wonder so many fake cards are there great security for usa


Saturday 6th of November 2021

If you want to avoid the delays fly to mexico and walk across. No visa requirements, no health requirements and you don't even have to be a child to claim you're an unaccompanied minor. Stop doing it wrong!