Welcome to America! As of Monday, November 8, the U.S. flung open the doors to its borders to vaccinated visitors from around the world. As long as most foreign tourists can show proof of vaccination and a recent negative COVID-19 test, they’re welcome to roam the U.S. from one end to the other.
However, there are some extra rules that some travelers will have to follow on top of being vaccinated and having a negative COVID-19 test. A full list of those rules and exceptions is available here.
A welcome relief
While this doesn’t signal an end to the pandemic, it serves as a major milestone and comes as welcome relief after a year and a half of the U.S. keeping international visitors out. Cities, airlines, and hotels are sure to be celebrations since they may soon find themselves moving back toward a positive profit margin. One case in point is San Francisco, which enjoyed a record 2.9 million international visitor arrivals in pre-pandemic 2019. International tourists comprised about 25% of overnight visitors that year, but they generated more than 60% of all overnight visitor spending.
"November 8th marks the true beginning of our tourism recovery," said Joe D'Alessandro, president and CEO of San Francisco Travel Association (SF Travel),. "The return of international tourists is vital to San Francisco's economic recovery. They tend to stay longer and spend more."
Delta Air Lines said its international bookings surged 450% ahead of the reopening and that its international flights are expected to operate at 100% capacity on Monday, Nov. 8. High passenger volume is expected throughout the following weeks leading up to the holidays.
A win-win, going and coming
The lifting of the travel restrictions is a win-win for both international travelers coming into the U.S. and American travelers hoping to travel abroad. In sharing his thoughts with ConsumerAffairs, ScottsCheapFlights’ Senior Product Operations Specialist Willis Orlando noted that travelers to Europe, Canada, Brazil, and South Africa can expect good airfare deals -- at least for a while.
“Airlines have successfully stayed ahead of this surge in demand by beefing up their schedules, adding more routes, and more, larger planes flying across the Atlantic. While in the long term prices should normalize, in the short term, this oversupply of seats is leading to frequent, widespread fare sales from the US to Europe and vice versa,” Orlando said.
How good are these deals? Let’s just say travelers who have been waiting to take to the skies will have plenty of incentive to do so.
“In recent weeks we’ve seen incredible deals on major carriers including $354 roundtrip from Boston to Copenhagen, $325 roundtrip from New York and Chicago to Switzerland, and $469 roundtrip from dozens of US cities to Amsterdam,” Orlando said. “All in all, this rule change has created a prime opportunity for Americans who are itching to get back out and explore the world again to snag a great deal and hit the skies.”
When ConsumerAffairs checked on other U.S. international fares via Google Flights, Orlando seemed to be spot on. For example, there was a $581 round trip Indianapolis to Prague fare available in December, a $572 round trip fare from Houston to Paris, and a $552 round trip fare from Richmond, Va., to Milan, Italy.