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.
Sign up to receive the daily TPG newsletter for more travel news!
“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!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees