Skip to content

White House ending airport COVID screening, reports say; more international flights coming?

Sept. 09, 2020
4 min read
White House ending airport COVID screening, reports say; more international flights coming?
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.

Overseas flights could be returning to more U.S. airports following reports the government is set to ease coronavirus-related restrictions on passengers arriving from abroad.

The U.S. had been requiring passengers coming from certain high-risk countries — including Brazil, China and much of Europe — to undergo “enhanced” screening upon arrival in the U.S. The move required those passengers to fly into one of 15 airports designated by the government, but the White House plans to end that requirement on Monday (Sept. 14), according to a report from Yahoo! News that cited unnamed sources.

Reuters later confirmed the report, though it noted “the move could still be delayed,” according to the unnamed U.S. officials cited by the news agency.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

That enhanced screening is supposed to include health monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms and the collection of information that would facilitate contact tracing for possible exposure, though arriving passengers have reported varying levels of checks at the designated airports.

Sign up for TPG's free new biweekly Aviation newsletter for more airline news!

“The orders to cease prescreening operations came from the White House, with strict orders to keep the information secret until a public announcement is made,” Yahoo! News wrote in its report. “Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the various agencies — and contractors — involved in the airport screening operations are working frantically to prepare for Monday’s shutdown [of screenings].”

If the news turns out to be confirmed, the move would likely worry health experts afraid of a possible "second wave" and the persistence of COVID infections in countries like the United States, Brazil and India.

Health implications notwithstanding, the enhanced screening restriction has presented a headache for schedule planners at U.S. airlines since many high-profile international long-haul routes were essentially restricted to the designated 15 airports.

American Airlines, for example, has two major hubs — Charlotte and Philadelphia — that are not on the list. Both are important transatlantic gateways for American. So, as the carrier tried to restart some international service, it had to choose to either hold off or instead fly some routes from hubs like Dallas/Fort Worth, poorly positioned for East Coast connections.

Perspective: These are the only long-haul international routes American, Delta and United plan for September

More: When will international travel return? A country-by-country guide to coronavirus travel restrictions

American’s long-haul plans for September underscored the challenge, with most of the carrier’s European routes coming from Dallas/Fort Worth. No long haul flights were on the September schedule from either Charlotte or Philadelphia, according to data from Cirium. It's only European routes from other hubs were to London, where American also has stepped up its reliance on partner British Airways for international connections via that carrier's hub at Heathrow Airport.

Other U.S. airlines have not been affected as severely, such as United. Six of its seven mainland U.S. hubs were included in the list of 15 airports; only Denver was not.

As for the apparent decision to scrap the enhanced screening requirement, a federal document viewed by Reuters said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) "is shifting its strategy and prioritizing other public health measures to reduce the risk of travel-related disease transmission."

More: American Airlines has flown more than its competitors during the pandemic, and it’s paying off

The document added about 675,000 passengers have been screened at the 15 airports, but "fewer than 15 have been identified as having COVID-19."

The 15 airports designated for enhanced screening protocols are listed below.

  • Atlanta (ATL)
  • Boston (BOS)
  • Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Detroit (DTW)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Honolulu (HNL)
  • Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York JFK
  • Newark (EWR)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • Washington Dulles (IAD)
Featured image by AFP via Getty Images

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
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.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    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.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases