Delta Air Lines says it expects many of its international services to be full to capacity on the day that the U.S. reopens to fully-vaccinated foreign visitors on November 8. The Atlanta-based carrier has witnessed a 450 per cent surge in international bookings following President Biden’s announcement that travel bans on Europe, the UK and a slew of other countries would finally be lifted.
The first Delta flight due to arrive on U.S. soil after the change in rules will be the DL106 from Sao Paulo which is scheduled to land in Atlanta at 9:35 am on Monday. Foreign travelers who had spent any time in the last 14-days in Brazil have been banned from entering the United States since last year.
Delta chief executive Ed Bastian said on Thursday that the airline expects many international services to be 100 per cent full on Monday as friends and family finally get the chance to see another for the first time in nearly two years.
Delta’s seat load factor on international flights – which is a measure of how many seats on any given flights are occupied by passengers – is expected to remain high in the run up to Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season.
“This is the start of a new era for travel and for many people around the world who have not been able to see loved ones for almost two years,” commented Bastian.
“While we have seen many countries reopen their borders to American visitors over the summer, our international customers have not been able to fly with us or visit the U.S. All of that changes now,” he continued.
“We’re grateful to the U.S. government for lifting travel restrictions and are looking forward to reuniting families, friends and colleagues over the coming days and weeks.”
Delta is adding back international flights to keep up with demand with extra services planned for key European destinations like London, Amsterdam and Dublin.
From its hub in Atlanta, the airline will operate 56 daily services to 39 international destinations, while New York JFK will be served by Delta with 28 daily departures to 21 international destinations.
Under the Biden administration’s new border rules, foreign visitors will be allowed to come to the United States so long as they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and have proof of a negative test taken within three days of departure.
The change will benefit travelers from Europe, the UK and Brazil, as well as China, Iran, India and South Africa which were all subject to travel bans. The rules have, however, been toughened for travelers from most other countries who were previously able to enter the United States with just proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
Bastian has warned travelers to expect lines at airports in the first few weeks as airlines get to grips with the latest entry rules.
“It’s going to be a bit sloppy at first,” Bastian warned last week. “I can assure you, there will be lines unfortunately … but we’ll get it sorted out,” he continued.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.