Although there is still an entry ban to the United States for travelers who have been in countries heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic within the previous 14 days, more flights are beginning to operate to the country as international travel begins to restart.
However, for air travel to return to normal, it has been necessary for both airports and airlines to introduce a number of COVID safety measures for passengers on flights to the USA and when arriving at the US border.
Major airlines for the US such as British Airways, Delta Airlines, and Lufthansa have now implemented advanced security protocols to protect crew and travelers alike and assure passengers that the risk of COVID contagion on flights is minimal and is greatly reduced with the measures in place.
Travelers who are planning on flying to the US during COVID with an ESTA visa waiver should refer to the following information to keep up to date on the airline safety measures currently being enforced.
Now that COVID 19 flight restrictions for the US are being reduced, the US tourist industry has presented the government of the United States with a detailed safety guide called “Travel in the New Normal”, which was compiled with the help of medical experts.
With a stated goal of “safely resuming travel as states and municipalities relax physical distancing measures”, the document contains guidelines that all tourism-related businesses, including airlines, must follow to ensure the health of employees and travelers alike.
Roger Dow, the President of the US Travel Association, has stated that he hopes the document will help political leaders and the general public to “realize that our industry is setting a very high standard to reduce the risk of contagion by coronavirus in our businesses”.
He stressed that the move was necessary, rationalizing that “travelers need to trust that security measures will be applied from the time they leave the front door until they return to it” for them to feel it is safe to fly during the coronavirus pandemic.
The measures being implemented by airlines, as well as safety control measures at the US border and in airports upon departure, can be found below.
All travelers boarding a plane in a foreign country are advised to arrive early at the airport when traveling to the United States to allow sufficient time to pass through airport measures to control the spread of coronavirus.
Preventive measures against COV-19 in airports around the world now include:
It should be noted that passengers displaying symptoms of COVID-19 infection will likely not be permitted to board a plane to the US. They will be required to undergo a medical examination and may be obliged to undertake a mandatory quarantine.
Flying safe during COVID-19 has become a priority for most major airlines that operate to the United States, and a number of safety measures, including greatly reducing the passenger capacity on flights, have already been implemented.
Other safety protocols when flying to the US include:
Although some potential travelers to the US may be concerned that infections could be more easily spread within the confines of an airline cabin, leading health professionals have asserted that this is not necessarily the case.
Jean-Brice Dumont, the chief engineer at aerospace giant Airbus has said that the air inside airplanes is actually very clean because of the way modern aircraft are designed. Most planes collect and recycle air from outside the craft and the air is renewed inside the cabin every 2 to 3 minutes, approximately 20 times every hour.
All of the air is also passed through HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters that trap small particles including the COVID-19 virus, similar to those used in hospitals.
The American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have implemented an improved health screening system for all passengers arriving at US airports.
All arriving travelers will be monitored as part of a layered security approach to reduce the risk of contagion from COVID-19, with special attention given to passengers who have transited through a third country on their way to the United States.
In addition to the regular US immigration control questions, those crossing the US border will also be asked to detail recent travel history and inform officials if they recently have been to any countries heavily affected by coronavirus, including China.
As the situation is constantly developing, all those considering visiting the US should stay up to date with the restrictions in case any safety requirements change or more are added in the coming months.