UPDATED: The USA will now demand a negative COVID-19 test before departure – see this post for an update.
With the outbreak of the new COVID strain that has thrown the UK into new levels of disorganisation, airlines are again acting – when the US Government won’t. To try and keep some semblance of service available, airlines are demanding negative PCR tests before allowing boarding.
Before we go on, let’s look at the FCDO travel advice at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/usa/entry-requirements
- British nationals cannot enter the USA and its territories if they have been in the UK, Ireland, Schengen zone, Iran, Brazil or China within the previous 14 days
- If you are eligible to enter the USA you must be prepared to self-isolate for up to 14 days after arrival
- Some airlines might require travellers, including British nationals, to produce a recent negative COVID-19 test result before flying. You should check the requirements with your airline before travelling.
Some states, like New York State, are imposing harsh fines for those who break quarantine:
With reports of a new #COVID19 strain in the UK, as of TODAY all international travelers will receive an order to quarantine from @NYCHealthCommr via certified mail. Anyone traveling from the UK will be personally served that order by @NYCSHERIFF.
Learn more: pic.twitter.com/3LgS97jAWR
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) December 23, 2020
In a statement, Governor Cuomo aid
“We have an agreement now with the 3 airlines that fly from the U.K. to the New York airports: Virgin, Delta and British Airways airlines that are flying into New York from the U.K. that have all agreed that they will test people before they get on the flight in the U.K. en route to New York.”
“The people who now fly into New York will be negative, but we’ll have flights into Chicago, we’ll have flights into other parts of the country and then those people can get on flights and come back to New York or infect other states. This whole notion that any one state can protect itself was foolish from the beginning. New York has one of the lowest infection rates in the United States, but that doesn’t stop the virus from coming in from other states.
Let’s walk through the airlines:
Entry requirements are per FCDO and US Government advice. As well as that, other states request forms to be filled in, and in the case of New York, additional requirements
- Boston: https://www.mass.gov/forms/massachusetts-travel-form]
- Los Angeles: https://travel.lacity.org/
- New York State: https://forms.ny.gov/s3/Welcome-to-New-York-State-Traveler-Health-Form – You need to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test certificate before you’re able to travel to New York. The test certificate must be issued no later than 72 hours before your departure time and will need to be shown at check-in when you arrive for your flight at London Heathrow Terminal 5.
- Philadelphia: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Travelers.aspx
British Airways travel advice can be found at https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/incident/coronavirus/entry-requirements.
Delta Air Lines
Delta follows British Airways in requiring a pre-departure COVID test before passengers leave from the U.K. to New York. Currently, no advice page is live, other than a statement by Governor Cuomo at https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/audio-rush-transcript-governor-cuomo-virgin-atlantic-joins-british-airways-and-delta-airlines (covering BA, Virgin and Delta)
Virgin Atlantic will require all travellers to present evidence of a negative PCR or LAMP test, taken up to 72 hours before departure.
From Thursday 24 December all customers travelling from London Heathrow to the United States, aged six years and above, will be required to present evidence of a negative PCR or LAMP Covid-19 test, taken within 72 hours prior to departure.
Customers will need to select a testing provider to obtain and purchase their PCR or LAMP Covid-19 test.
Virgin recommends you arrange your test with time to receive your results before your day of travel. If you wish to do it on-site at Heathrow, you can pre-book a LAMP test with Collinson at its Terminal 2 Pre-Departure Testing Facility. If you select this option, you must pre-book and choose a time at least 3 hours before your departure time to ensure there is sufficient time to take your test, obtain the negative result, and proceed to Bag Drop and Departures. you can book the test with Collinson here.
The State of New Jersey has announced from the 28th December 2020, all United passengers with flights originating in the U.K. will be required to present proof of a negative COVID-19 test obtained within 72 hours of departure for incoming flights to Newark Liberty International Airport.
In addition, United Airlines will require passengers travelling from London Heathrow to Chicago, Newark, Washington Dulles and San Francisco to present proof a negative COVID-19 test taken no later than 72 hours before departure. It impacts customers over the age of 5 originating travel from the UK; individuals connecting in LHR onto a United flight from another country would be exempt. Customers will be asked to show proof of a negative molecular COVID-19 test (such as PCR or LAMP), or antigen test, taken within 72 hours prior to departure from London Heathrow.
Again, Same-day, pre-flight rapid tests are also available for ticketed passengers at the Collinson testing centre located in Terminal 2 at London Heathrow.
The governors announcement can be found at https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20201224a.shtml. United Airlines has a travel waiver for the UK at https://www.united.com/ual/en/us/fly/travel/notices.html#europe-waivers
Test before you go… anywhere.
Travel is the least of anyone’s mind right now, thanks to the new variant in the UK – however, if you do need to travel and meet the criteria for entry into the USA, the message is simple TEST BEFORE YOU DEPART – either at Heathrow (for a LAMP test) or another valid site where you can get a PCR Test.
Looking at the ever-growing list of countries that are amending or banning UK citizens from entering their territories, having a valid PCR test is fast turning into a requirement to leaving the United Kingdom, as well as quarantining on arrival.
And that pattern is set to continue for now, as this new COVID-19 strain is understood…
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