The United States opens Monday to vaccinated international travelers. Here’s what to expect
(CNN) – The United States opens its doors to international travelers vaccinated on Monday, welcoming many visitors excluded from the country for 20 months.
Everything is ready, the registrar assured Zwing and told him to prepare for longer wait times at security on Monday.
“My boyfriend and I are super excited and counting the hours until we are finally together again! He keeps telling me he can barely sleep in excitement,” Zwing said on Sunday by e -mail. “To me, it’s always so surreal it’s going to happen! So I’ll believe it when I land in Chicago.”
With new requirements coming into effect for air, land and ferry arrivals, there is bound to be some congestion as the rules are put in place.
“It’s going to be a bit sloppy at first, I can assure you,” Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta Air Lines, said at a travel industry conference in late October. “There will unfortunately be queues,” he said, citing “an onslaught of travel all at once”.
According to Delta spokesman Morgan Durrant, many Delta flights due to arrive on Monday are 100% full with high load factors in the following weeks. Delta saw a 450% increase in international bookings in the six weeks following the announcement of the US reopening, he said.
New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (pictured in January 2021) will accommodate more international flights on Monday.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images
International flight arrivals will increase 11% on Monday compared to a similar day in October at Newark Liberty and John F. Kennedy International Airports, with 253 flights scheduled to arrive, according to the NY & NJ Port Authority.
The Port Authority expects a gradual increase in these airports over the next two months, with international traffic reaching around 75% of November and December 2019 levels, based on current international timetables which are subject to change.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Transportation Security Administration have also been understaffed and face a looming deadline just before Thanksgiving for federally mandated employee vaccinations.
CBP expects increased wait times at busy land border crossings in Canada and Mexico.
All of this to say that preparation and patience will be essential for international travelers to the United States.
Here’s what travelers can expect and prepare for:
When you get there
The United States is wide open, although some state and local restrictions still apply.
For example, there are mask warrants in Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico also require masks in indoor public spaces.
In some cities, including New York and San Francisco, there are vaccine requirements for indoor public spaces, including restaurants.
Hawaii, which had some of the strictest entry requirements to the United States, will now align with new federal rules for international air travel. Although capacity restrictions in the state are easing, some limits are still in place.
California (with Santa Monica pictured here), New York, and Florida are the top destinations for inbound international travelers.
Daniel Slim / AFP via Getty Images
Before you leave
Getting vaccinated is the key requirement for the vast majority of international travelers who wish to enter the United States.
Visitors to the new Summit One Vanderbilt Observatory in New York City board a glass elevator on October 21.
Timothy A. Clary / AFP via Getty Images
For air travel
Unvaccinated Americans and a very limited number of unvaccinated international travelers exempt from the requirement for vaccination should be tested within one day of leaving for the United States.
Many airlines have mobile apps and portals on their websites where vaccination and testing information can be processed digitally.
A Delta Air Lines employee works on the departures level at Los Angeles International Airport in August. Delta will operate 139 flights from international destinations to the United States on November 8.
Mario Tama / Getty Images
Hard copies are also a good idea.
“Proof of who you are, of your immunization status and of the front and back of a credit card can go a long way in turning the nightmare of losing your documents into a reasonable one. “
Miami (with Ocean Drive in Miami Beach shown here) is among the top three destinations for international travelers on Hopper.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images
At the land borders
Customs and border protection anticipate increased travel volumes and waiting times at land and ferry crossings and encourage travelers to prepare their identification and vaccination documents. The agency also encourages travelers to use its CBP One app.
Staffing levels will be at pre-Covid levels, according to CBP, but the agency will balance several priorities.
Digital and paper documentation is acceptable for proof of vaccination, and vaccination cards do not need to be in English.
Travelers should be prepared to certify their immunization status and the reason for their trip. They should also be prepared to prove that they are fully immunized, if requested by a CBP officer.
Children under 18 traveling with vaccinated adults are exempt from compulsory vaccination.
Covid testing is not required at land and ferry crossings.
The web of rules and requirements for traveling overseas right now is undeniably tangled.
“Just jumping on a plane and going somewhere doesn’t work anymore,” says travel consultant Dave Hershberger of Prestige Travel in Cincinnati, Ohio. “You must do your homework.”