US opens to vaccinated Brits from today – we're onboard the first flights to test how easy it is to travel to America

AMERICA has opened its borders to fully-jabbed Brits today after almost two years.

The first British Airways and Virgin Atlantic tourist flights will land in New York’s JFK airport today after a dual take-off from Heathrow.

But what are the entry rules and how easy is it to cross the border?

At 12:01am today, America’s restrictions were lifted, meaning that British travellers as well as visitors from most European countries would finally be allowed to visit.

It seems we’re all itching to get back too. Airlines have seen a huge influx of bookings in recent weeks – Virgin Atlantic announced that their US flight sales surged by 600 per cent immediately after the announcement was made on October 24.

New data from ABTA has revealed that nearly 1 in 5 of people who plan to holiday abroad hope to travel to the USA over the next year.

It’s no surprise that demand is high when friends and relatives have been kept apart for more than 600 days.

Families are more desperate than ever to reunite with loved ones across the pond and today they’ll be able to do just that.

Even airlines are emphasising the importance of reconnecting people – British Airways’ first flight, BA1, has been reserved solely for friends and families that have been separated during the pandemic.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ chef said: “For the first time ever, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic aircrafts will be seen taking-off together to mark the vital importance of the transatlantic corridor.

“We must now look forward with optimism, get trade and tourism back on track and allow friends and families to connect once again.”

Virgin Atlantic boss Shai Weiss said: “Today is a time for celebration, not rivalry.  Together with British Airways we are delighted to mark today’s important milestone, which finally allows consumers and businesses to book travel with confidence.  The US has been our heartland for more than 37 years and we are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic.”

But visitors are only allowed to meet with loved ones if they have completed a full course of the coronavirus vaccine at least 14 days prior to arrival, which can be proved via the NHS Covid Pass app or with a letter.

If you’re travelling by plane, you will also need to take a pre-departure test within 72 hours of landing – this can’t be a free NHS test though.

Lateral flow tests are accepted, but you’ll need to book privately and your test must be supervised, meaning you’ll need an online appointment with a nurse too.

There’s good news for anyone who has recently recovered from Covid though.

Those who have caught the virus in the past three months can ditch the pre-departure test and gain entry with the NHS Covid Recovery Pass instead.

Passengers will also need to fill out a combined passenger disclosure and attestation form ahead of flying – and remember to arrange for a visa or ESTA as well, as you’ll still need this to get through immigration.

Test companies are making it as easy as possible for Brits wanting to head to America though.

Lots of private providers, like Breathe Assured, are offering US-UK packages, which include a pre-departure test to the US and a Day 2 lateral flow test, which you’ll need to take when you get back to the UK. Breathe Assured packages cost from £50.

But what about unvaccinated Brits? The US has strict rules on anyone who hasn’t been vaccinated, which essentially means: no jab, no entry.

The rules are a little different for kids though. All under 18s who are travelling with a fully-vaccinated adult can gain entry, but parents will need to fill out a combined passenger attestation form and kids will need to take a test three to five days after arrival.

Things may look a little different when you land too. Each state has their own rules and some tourist hotspots, like New York, require anyone over the age of 12 to be vaccinated to enter restaurants, museums and venues.

Don’t forget your mask either. Masks must be worn on all transport in the States.

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