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Queue warning as US border reopening sees thousands jet across Atlantic


Thousands will jet across the Atlantic on Monday for long-awaited reunions as the United States lift a Covid travel ban that has been in place for more than one and a half years.

The US is bracing for a surge in arrivals as much of the world’s population will be allowed to come to the country for the first time since March 2020.

Rival airlines British Airways and Virgin Atlantic will operate a synchronised departure from Heathrow to celebrate the end of the travel ban, with their aircraft taking off from parallel runways at 8.30amto fly to New York.

Flight schedules have been ramped up to meet the increased demand for travel across the Atlantic.

Non-US citizens travelling from 33 countries – the China, India, South Africa, Iran, Brazil, the UK, Ireland and Europe’s Schengen nations – have been covered by the international travel ban.

The rules will be lifted from Monday morning. Adults must be fully-vaccinated in order to enter the US.

Sean Doyle, the British Airways chief executive, said the reopening of US borders was a “moment to celebrate” after “more than 600 days of separation”.

“Transatlantic connectivity is vital for the UK’s economic recovery, which is why we’ve been calling for the safe reopening of the UK-US travel corridor for such a long time,” he said.

“We must now look forward with optimism, get trade and tourism back on track and allow friends and families to connect once again.”

Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic’s chief executive, said: “The US has been our heartland for more than 37 years and we are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic.

“We’ve been steadily ramping up flying to destinations including Boston, New York, Orlando, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and we can’t wait to fly our customers safely to their favourite US cities to reconnect with loved ones and colleagues.”

Many international flights are expected to operate close to full or full on Monday, with high passenger volume throughout the following weeks.

The boss of Delta Air Lines warned travellers to prepare for long queues as restrictions ease.

“It’s going to be a bit sloppy at first. I can assure you, there will be lines unfortunately,” Ed Bastian said.

Under the new rules, foreign travellers arriving by air must provide proof of either a negative result from a coronavirus test taken no more than three days before travel, or that they have recovered from the virus in the previous three months.

There are limited exemptions for travellers who are not fully-vaccinated.

Additional reporting by agencies

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