- The U.S. will ease travel restrictions for international visitors who are vaccinated against Covid-19 in November, including those from the U.K. and EU, the White House said Monday.
- Noncitizens visiting the United States will have to show proof of vaccination and a negative Covid test taken within three days of departure.
- The changes will take effect in early November, which the airline industry expects will spur holiday bookings.
- Airlines and other travel industry groups have clamored for the U.S. to lift the restrictions for months. The Trump administration had first issued the rules, which now apply to more than 30 countries, in March 2020. President Joe Biden upheld those rules in January, shortly after taking office.
- The Biden administration is also tightening rules for unvaccinated U.S. citizens returning home. They will need to test one day before departure and test again after returning.
- Shares of American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines rose Monday after the White House’s announcement, escaping a broader market sell-off. Those carriers have the most international service of U.S. airlines and will benefit the most from the change in policy. JetBlue Airways, which debuted its first service to London last month, also gained.
- “Leisure bookings for the holidays from inbound tourist visits and non-US citizens visiting friends and relatives will accelerate in upcoming weeks,” Jonathan Root, senior vice president at Moody’s Investors Service, said in an emailed statement. “We also now expect a stronger increase in business travel by the first quarter of 2022 than would have occurred if the borders remained closed.”
- The Biden administration announced on Thursday that it plans to award 16 slots for flights at Newark International Airport in New Jersey to a yet-to-be-determined low-cost carrier and said it could take action to boost competition at other major airports.
- “Low-cost carriers play an important role in keeping the airline industry competitive and the immense power of the major airlines in check,” Richard Powers, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, said in a statement.
- The slots, which are permission to take-off or land at congested airports, were previously owned by United Airlines and then transferred to Southwest Airlines (LUV.N) before being given up. United had advocated for them being retired to reduce congestion.
- “Opening up more slots at Newark to lower cost carriers will provide air travelers with more choices and lower prices,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg.
- The Transportation Department and the Federal Aviation Administration said without the reassignment of the Newark slots to a low-cost carrier “it is highly unlikely that there will be any significant reduction in fares.”
- Yet over the past year, my thinking has changed. I’m no longer avoiding budget airlines; in fact, I’ve flown multiple domestic flights with Spirit and Frontier, and even traveled on Wizz Air in Europe — and I’d happily do it again.
- In October, Frontier and Spirit will fly 5% and 1% more domestic flights than they did two years prior, respectively, well before the pandemic even started. As for the Big 3 network airlines — American, Delta and United — they’re down an average of nearly 15% flights in October 2021 compared to two years prior, according to Cirium schedules.
- Now more than ever, I’m finding better-timed flights with the budget airlines than I am with the legacies. Case in point: I recently flew from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to New York on a Wednesday night. I was visiting my parents in South Florida and wanted to spend the entire day with them.
- In the past, I might’ve filtered out this flight and skipped some family time, but the pandemic has made me rethink my priorities — and nowadays I’m booking on schedule more than anything else.
- With Spirit Airlines, you can outright purchase the equivalent of a domestic first-class recliner for a fraction of the price. On my recent Spirit flight, the Big Front Seat was going for $46, a modest upcharge for a much more comfortable experience.
- One of the biggest reasons why I’ve long avoided ultra-low-cost carriers is their reliability. If a flight is canceled or significantly delayed, the next flight might not be for a few days, and you couldn’t be reaccomodated on another airline.
- While that still holds, Spirit and Frontier have made great strides in improving their operation. For one, they’ve both invested in a new fleet of Airbus aircraft
- All things equal, I still unequivocally prefer a major network airline, but I’m no longer filtering out the budget carriers like I was doing before the pandemic.