Italy is reopening to all Americans aboard Delta’s COVID-tested flights

May 14, 2021

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Have a trip to Italy on your wish list? Well, there’s great news from Delta.

The country, which is in the process of reopening, is ready to welcome all travelers, but only if they’re flying on a COVID-tested flight from the U.S., Canada, Japan and the United Arab Emirates. The policy change is effective from May 16 through July 30, per the Italian health ministry.

Delta currently offers three nonstop COVID-tested flights to Italy from the U.S., and effective May 16, all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, will be welcome to aboard one of them.

The late-Friday news gives hope to Americans looking to salvage European vacations. While it only applies to these specific flights to Italy, it could pave the way for other European nations to follow with their own border reopening plans.

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The Delta routes to Italy include:

  • Five-times weekly service between Atlanta (ATL) and Rome (FCO), increasing to daily on May 26
  • Daily service between New York-JFK and Milan (MXP)
  • Three-times weekly service between New York-JFK and Rome (FCO), increasing to daily on July 1

All flights are operated by the 293-seat Airbus A330-300, outfitted with 34 Delta One reverse herringbone pods, 40 extra-legroom Comfort+ seats and 219 standard coach ones.

As the peak summer period begins, Delta will launch three more COVID-tested routes to Italy, two of which are to Venice (VCE), which will soon be equipped to welcome COVID-tested flights, according to the Italian Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza. (Naples airport will also be able to accept COVID-testing flights in the coming weeks and months, but Delta isn’t currently planning flights there.)

Delta’s three new routes include:

  • New York-JFK and Venice (VCE) beginning July 2
  • Atlanta (ATL) to Venice (VCE) beginning Aug. 5
  • Boston (BOS) to Rome (FCO) beginning Aug. 5

Both the JFK and ATL services are technically route resumptions, and the Boston service was first announced in October 2019, but was delayed due to the pandemic. These routes will all be operated by the 226-seat Boeing 767-300, equipped with 26 Thompson Vantage forward-facing Delta One lie-flats, 35 extra-legroom Comfort+ seats and 165 standard coach ones.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Delta’s in the process of retrofitting the 767-300 fleet with a premium economy cabin, so it’s possible that some of the newly reconfigured jets will be deployed on the Italy routes later this summer. All Delta flights to Italy are operated in conjunction with Skyteam and transatlantic joint venture partner, Alitalia.

“Delta was the first U.S. airline to launch quarantine-free service to Italy and our COVID-tested flights have proved a viable means to restart international travel safely,” said Alain Bellemare, Delta’s executive vice president of international said in a statement. “It is encouraging that the Italian government has taken this step forward to reopen the country to leisure travelers from the U.S. on our dedicated protocol flights and further supporting economic recovery from the global pandemic,” he continued.

American Airlines also announced COVID-tested flight options to Italy back in April, including a daily flight from New York City (JFK) to Milan (MXP) and a three-times-weekly flight from JFK to Rome (FCO). It remains to be seen if, and when, AA will update its policies to allow any traveler to fly to Italy.

Related: Where you can go if you’re vaccinated 

To fly on COVID-tested flights from the U.S. to Italy, all travelers are required to complete a series of mandatory testing both before departure and on arrival, regardless of vaccination status.

The three-step testing regime is as follows:

  1. Provide a negative COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test up to 72 hours before departure
  2. Take a rapid test at the airport just before boarding
  3. Take a second rapid test on arrival in Italy

Assuming that all three tests come back negative, you’ll be able to enjoy a quarantine-free vacation to Italy. Just note that all travelers need to complete a pre-travel COVID-19 test before returning to the U.S., regardless of vaccination status.

As of Jan. 26, 2021, all passengers two years of age and older traveling to the U.S. from a foreign country must show a negative viral COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of departure before being allowed to board their flights; documented proof from a licensed healthcare provider of recovery from the virus within the past 90 days will also be accepted.

Last week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded the testing program for international travel to the United States, allowing airlines to accept at-home instant tests that include remote supervision. TPG recently reviewed Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 Home Test, which is now CDC-approved for travel to the U.S.

Italy is the latest European destination to welcome Americans in time for the summer. Croatia, Greece and Iceland have also reopened to U.S. travelers, and Delta has announced new and increased service to all three destinations over the course of the next few weeks and months.

It remains to be seen if other U.S. airlines will add COVID-tested flights to Italy, and how this news impacts other European nations’ reopening plans.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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