KLM backtracks, restores US routes due to easier entry rules

Sep 24, 2021

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Thanks to a big policy change earlier this week, KLM is going to move forward with plans to grow its U.S. network after all.

On Friday, the Dutch flag carrier announced that it would indeed resume flying to Las Vegas (LAS) and Miami (MIA) beginning on Dec. 7, just three weeks after scrapping those plans due to tightened European entry and quarantine rules for travelers.

KLM cites the “recent easing of travel restrictions” as the reason for moving forward with its plans to serve Las Vegas and Miami once again.

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Just this week, the U.S. government announced that vaccinated travelers from the EU and U.K. would be welcome to the country beginning in November, following a nearly 20-month-long ban that first started at the outset of the pandemic.

Additionally, the Dutch government also decided to withdraw the previously announced quarantine requirement for vaccinated travelers from the U.S.

While KLM is moving forward with flights from Amsterdam (AMS) to LAS and MIA, it’s postponing the start date. They were originally scheduled to commence on Oct. 31, but that’s now been pushed to Dec. 7 — just in time for the peak winter holiday period. Additionally, the carrier was planning to add Orlando as a new route-map pin, served in a triangle route along with Miami.

KLM’s latest press release doesn’t mention Orlando, and the airline hasn’t responded to our inquiry about whether those plans have been scrapped. We’ll update this post when we hear back.

In the first week of September, KLM issued a strongly worded statement about its network pull-down, citing the Dutch government’s strict entry policy as the reason for the move.

“The decision by the Dutch government is a big step backwards,” KLM’s press release read. “Health and fighting COVID-19 are paramount but the measures taken must be effective and proportionate. It looks like other EU member states, such as Italy, France and Belgium are not putting a triple lock on the door for travelers from the US,” the release said.

Now that both the U.S. and the Netherlands are easing entry restrictions, KLM predicts that there’ll be enough demand to warrant resuming these flights. And experts agree.

According to data from the travel site Skyscanner, visitors to the site’s U.S. platforms were 20% higher the day the U.S. government announced the end to the European entry ban, compared to the previous week.

“With the option for transatlantic travel now open, we expect a large portion of these searches to convert to bookings very quickly, as friends and families make plans to be reunited and vacationers head to their favorite spots,” said Martin Nolan, traveler rights expert at Skyscanner, in a statement.

Featured photo by Katherine Fan/The Points Guy

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