Is America opening to the idea of international travel again? Its airports certainly are. After months of health screenings and funneling all international travelers through just over a dozen airports, the United States is reopening international gateways for the first time in over 6 months. For those looking to avoid connections, it’s a big deal.
USA Drops Quarantine, Brings Back Gateways
At the height of the covid-19 pandemic, the United States aimed to minimize potential travel health risks by funneling all international arrivals via 15 airports, and initiating widespread travel bans for residents of Europe.
As the world returns to the skies, the draconian travel restrictions, rather than test and trace, or other internationally recognized efforts have hampered efforts to reboot the US airline industry and international travel along with it, as US airlines faces grave job losses in October.
The 15 airports including Los Angeles, New York JFK, Atlanta, Miami and Dallas included screening setups, where officials could take temperature readings and pass out forms with instructions for any quarantine needs. As of Monday, September 14th, Yahoo News reports that all screening protocols will be dropped, and other gateways may reopen to international flying.
The US Centers For Disease Control (CDC) dropped its quarantine for all international arrivals in early August, but some states maintain their own protocols. Now, health screening procedures for arriving passengers from all international gateways will be dropped as well.
Temperature checks added a layer of security, and contact tracing details filled out by passengers provided authorities with an easy way to warn anyone who may have been on a flight with an infectious person. Statistically, catching covid-19 on a flight remains unlikely, with odds between 1:4400 to 1:7700, according to studies conducted by MIT.
At the direction of the White House, there will no longer be any forms to fill, nor will there be any screening measures such as individual temperature checks. US Travel restrictions have been named as a key driver in job losses, and the United States ban of travelers from Europe, where infection rates remain lower than the most of the world hasn’t won much favor with key trading partners.
Asia, which was initially the hardest hit region by covid-19 is looking to reboot travel with robust access to testing before flight, and dedicated facilities on arrival for any additional screening. In Europe, authorities managed to salvage vital summer travel, and all the commerce it provides with minimal restrictions on travel within the region. The UAE, a key US trading partner requires a recent covid-19 test prior to flight, and before entry into the country.
So will we see more international flights from more regional airports? It all depends on demand. The announcement of 15 gateway hubs left some airlines without key hubs to operate from, such as American with Raleigh Durham, and airlines will undoubtedly aim to reboot key routes to reestablish their marketplace.
Many Caribbean destinations which were open to Americans have also shuttered their borders with fears of second waves, which limits demand to key regional international favorites for the US market. It’s good news for regional travelers all over the USA, it just might take a while to materialize.