The Travel Column with Katie Butler, Total Travel

US borders are officially open and on Monday we waved off our first customers to the States since March 2020.

Sunday, 14th November 2021, 2:30 pm
JFK AIRPORT: Families reunite in New York after the travel ban to the USA was lifted this week. Photo: Getty Images

Katie Butler writes: We were not the only ones to be clapping and cheering as for the first time ever transatlantic rival airlines British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, in a show of unity, took to the skies in a simultaneous take-off at Heathrow.

British Airways flight BA001 (a number usually reserved for Concorde flights) and Virgin flight VS3 departed Heathrow on parallel runways, both heading for New York’s JFK airport.

What do I need to travel to the USA?

To travel to the States for leisure it is a requirement to be fully-vaccinated and to have a Covid-19 certified test no more than three days before departure. This can be a PCR or supervised antigen test. Most travellers that are not fully-vaccinated will need to test no more than one day before travel, or present a negative result, or documentation of having recovered from Covid-19 in the past three months, to the airline before boarding the flight. Only those with an exemption or US citizens, US nationals, and US lawful permanent residents will be able to enter the US unvaccinated. Unvaccinated travellers will also be required to quarantine.

Children under the age of 18 who are not fully-vaccinated but are travelling with vaccinated adults are exempt from quarantine but must take a test three to five days after arrival. For travel, the US definition of a fully-vaccinated child is the same as the definition of a fully-vaccinated adult. This is different to the UK and the definition of fully-vaccinated for children is the same as adults. A pre-departure test is also required.

Is there anywhere I can go without having had a Covid-19 vaccine?

There are a number of countries that will accept unvaccinated passengers from England, and in most cases a negative Covid-19 test will need to be provided, usually within three days of arrival. Remember, however, that unvaccinated travellers returning back to the UK will be required to quarantine for 10 days at home in addition to the necessary tests. Spain, Greece and Turkey are among some of the destinations still allowing travel without a vaccine along with Mexico and the UAE including Dubai.

I have had my booster but it is not showing on my NHS Covid app and I have heard that some countries may not recognise my double vaccination if it was too long ago. Is this correct?

There are a handful of countries who have advised that they will not accept vaccines that were given too far in the past. The NHS is working hard to ensure that the booster jab is included on the NHS app very soon. In the meantime, you only need to have proof of your first and second dose to obtain a Covid pass for travel. We are hoping for more information on this in the coming weeks.

A busy start to November at a time when ordinarily we start to get quieter with the run-up to Christmas. USA is proving popular and for the first time in a number of months we have seen a huge increase in city break bookings, as we find confidence in travelling continues to improve.

■ If you have a specific travel question you would like Katie to answer in her column, please email: [email protected]