AUSTIN, Texas — The new international travel policy that took effect on Monday could benefit Austin travelers as the U.S. reopens to fully vaccinated foreign nationals.
The new policy allows foreign nationals over the age of 18 to visit the U.S. by showing proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test within three days of boarding a flight to the country. Kids are exempt from the vaccination rule, but ages 2 to 17 are required to get a negative test before visiting.
“The reopening of the U.S. to these international travelers will help propel forward and upward the U.S. travel industry's recovery,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group.
At Austin’s airport, up to nine international flights are scheduled to arrive each day throughout the month of November, according to an inbound flight schedule provided by airport officials.
“The reopening of the U.S. to international travelers will help, I think, expedite the return of international flights that Austin once had or was supposed to have had before COVID hit,” Harteveldt said.
U.S. airlines are seeing a major surge in international bookings with the policy change. Austin’s third-busiest airline, Delta, reported a 450% spike in international bookings compared to the six weeks prior to the change being announced. United Airlines expected 50% more international inbound arrivals on Nov. 8 compared to Nov. 1, when the airline had about 20,000 international inbound passengers, according to data provided by the airline.
“One thing that's also good about the U.S. reopening to international visitors is it means, over time, both U.S. and foreign flag airlines will add flights between their hubs or important gateway cities such as Austin and various points abroad. More flights equal more seats and more seats equal better fares,” Harteveldt said.
Unvaccinated travelers arriving in the U.S. will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within one day of getting on a plane to the country. Tourists who are traveling by land or ferry will also have to show proof of vaccination at border crossings under the new rules.
Face coverings continue to be required at airports and on flights under a federal mandate that’s in place through at least Jan. 18, 2022.
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