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Hopes of a summer US-UK travel corridor fade as officials say 'not going to happen soon'

June 29, 2021
5 min read
Hopes of a summer US-UK travel corridor fade as officials say 'not going to happen soon'
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Despite pleas from both travel industry leaders and travelers on both sides of the Atlantic, it appears as if the possibility of a corridor between the U.S. and U.K. is unlikely to happen this summer.

On Monday night, the Financial Times reported that talks of a travel corridor between the two countries were at a deadlock and unlikely to reach an agreement to open a travel corridor by the end of next month.

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According to the report, U.S. officials are concerned about the rise in cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus in the U.K., as well as the uncertainty surrounding the effectiveness of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

It's not just one-sided, either. The FT quoted one U.K. government official as saying that the travel corridor was "not going to happen soon." The source went on to say, "We thought July was the earliest we might be able to get something in place, but now it's looking more like September."

Since March 2020, the U.S. has kept its borders closed to non-nationals coming from the U.K. — and other Schengen Area countries. As such, tourism from Europe (including the U.K.) to the U.S. has been completely off the table.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said that reopening the U.S. to EU citizens would be "premature," despite the EU reopening its borders to American citizens for tourism earlier this month.

(Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images)

Likewise, the U.S. remains on the U.K.'s medium-risk amber list. Amber designation requires that arriving passengers in the U.K. have a pre-departure test result, as well as quarantine for 10 days on arrival. The passenger must pre-book a set of tests prior to travel to take on days two and eight of quarantine.

Related: All 147 countries and territories that are on the UK’s travel amber list

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For amber arrivals in England, that quarantine period can be shortened via the country's Test to Release scheme. After five full days of quarantine, the arrival must take an additional PCR test. If it returns a negative result, they can forgo the rest of their quarantine period, but must still take the day-eight test. In total, a Test to Release arrival will take four COVID-19 tests.

“There is no reason for the U.S. to be absent from the U.K. green list,” Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said previously. “This overly cautious approach fails to reap the benefits of the successful vaccination programs in both the U.K. and the U.S.”

Since late last year, there were calls on the governments of the U.S. and U.K. to establish a travel corridor between the two countries. However, with waves of COVID cases on both sides of the Atlantic, the corridor has been continuously delayed.

Most recently, there's been a greater push from the beleaguered travel industries on their respective governments to open the corridor. Earlier this month, airline executives from British Airways, American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, among others, pushed the leaders to establish a corridor at the G7 Summit in Cornwall, England.

Related: Airline executives pressure governments to open UK-US corridor at G7 Summit

The G7 Summit came and went without any news about a corridor. However, U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced on 9 June that the two had set up a joint "UK/US Taskforce" in order to "help facilitate the reopening of transatlantic travel."

However, a new spike in COVID-19 cases in the U.K. — a large number of which being the concerning Delta variant — has slowed those plans. On Monday, the U.K. reported 22,868 new COVID-19 cases, and 116,287 over the past seven days — a nearly 70% increase from the same period a week prior.

That said, the country has seen a successful vaccination rollout thus far. More than 44 million U.K. citizens have received their first dose of a vaccine — more than 84% of the population. Meanwhile, more than 32 million have received both doses — more than 61% of the population.

But it's the spike in cases that is concerning not just American officials, but those around the world. On Monday, Hong Kong classified the U.K. as "extremely high-risk," choosing to ban all passenger flights from the U.K. Additionally, Portugal, Malta and Spain imposed new requirements for British travelers — specifically those who are unvaccinated.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on the EU to mandate all British travelers quarantine for 14 days, as well as halting all non-essential travel. However, those plans have not advanced.

Featured image by PA Images via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more