UK airlines push for travel corridor with US as vaccine rollout raises hopes for summer travel
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
With vaccination rates on the rise in both countries, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are calling for a travel corridor to be set up between the United Kingdom and the United States that would ease travel restrictions for travelers in both countries.
The airlines are talking to the U.K. government about allowing safe summer travel to and from the U.S., without mandating costly COVID-19 tests or quarantine. Executives from BA and Virgin hope to get a travel corridor between the two countries arranged as soon as next month.
“There is a great opportunity here to focus on the corridor between the U.S. and the U.K… the U.S. has a hugely successful vaccination program,” Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said.
The success of the vaccine rollout in America is boosting optimism, set by President Biden’s announcement on Tuesday that all adults will be eligible for a first vaccine by April 19.
Both BA and Virgin expect international travel out of the U.K. to resume by May 17, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s words earlier this week that it’s too soon to say when travel would be deemed safe.
The two carriers are desperate to resume overseas travel, which has been grounded to a virtual halt the past year due to the pandemic. The transatlantic passage is especially vital to the financial health of the airlines. For Virgin Atlantic, those flights accounted for roughly 70% of its pre-pandemic route network. And that traffic has been mostly non-existent the past year.
Entry to the states has been banned for nearly all U.K. travelers — as well as EU travelers — since March 2020. It has also been incredibly difficult for anyone to travel from the U.S. to the U.K., given its strict quarantine requirements.
A “safe travel program” to allow for quarantine-free travel between the two countries would be a huge financial relief for airlines heading into the summer travel months.
The big hurdle to overcome in order to establish a travel corridor between the U.S. and U.K. comes down to where both countries currently stand with regards to vaccinations. In the U.S., things are moving well enough that travel restrictions have been loosened. The CDC now says fully vaccinated people can travel internationally.
The U.K. is on pace to have the first dose of vaccine in every adult’s arm by the end of July, but supply remains a concern. The prime minister even cautioned against making summer travel plans just yet. That’s why the Global Travel Taskforce has determined that when travel can resume, it will do so using a “traffic light system” identifying the risk of a particular destination — red (high risk), amber (medium risk) or green (low risk).
However, even for the lowest-risk green countries, two tests will still be required for travelers: one pre-departure and one post-arrival.
Featured photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.