Delta’s international bookings surge 450% as U.S. reopens travel borders

By Anthony Nwachukwu

Delta Air Lines has seen a surge of 450 per cent in international point-of-sale bookings versus the six weeks prior to the United States (U.S.) announcing a reopening to fully vaccinated international travelers.

The airline is reuniting families and friends who have been kept apart for the past 20 months, with many international flights now expected to operate 100 per cent full today, November 8, 2021 with high passenger volume throughout the following weeks.

Foreign nationals will be permitted to enter the U.S. with proof of vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days of departure. Non-vaccinated foreign nationals may enter the U.S. only if they meet criteria for very limited exceptions and commit to post-arrival testing, quarantine and vaccination.

Customers must also provide details to meet U.S. contact tracing requirements. More information on entry requirements is available at Delta’s Travel Planning Center and through official U.S. Government resources.

All customers, aged two and over, must wear a face covering throughout the journey, while Delta’s enhanced cleanliness measures also remain in place.

These include regular cleaning and sanitizing of high-touch areas onboard aircraft and at airports, as well as electrostatic spraying of aircraft interiors with high-grade disinfectant to ensure no surface goes unnoticed.

Effective today, November 8, customers on nearly all international routes bound for the U.S. can use Delta FlyReady to directly upload and verify their proof of vaccination status. Once requirements are met, an indicator on the customer’s boarding pass will verify they are ready to go.

In a statement, the airline noted that the reopening was positively impacting customers in 33 countries around the world, with Delta serving 10 of these non-stop and more via its global hubs, in connection with its partners, including Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic.

The strong demand is reflected across both leisure and business travelers to popular destinations such as New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Boston and Orlando, it said, adding that in total, over 25,000 seats are being offered as it operates 139 flights from 55 international destinations in 38 countries landing in the U.S. today.

“This is the start of a new era for travel and for many people around the world who have not been able to see loved ones for almost two years,” Delta’s Chief Executive Officer, Ed Bastian, noted.

“While we have seen many countries reopen their borders to American visitors over the summer, our international customers have not been able to fly with us or visit the U.S. All of that changes now.

“We’re grateful to the U.S. Government for lifting travel restrictions and are looking forward to reuniting families, friends and colleagues over the coming days and weeks.”

Flight DL106 from Sao Paulo to Atlanta will be Delta’s first international flight to touch down in the U.S. under the new rules at 09:35 today, with dozens more closely behind.

Meanwhile, as consumer confidence in travel returns, Delta is increasing flights this winter from key European cities, including London-Boston, Detroit and New York-JFK, Amsterdam-Boston, Dublin-New York-JFK, Frankfurt-New York-JFK and Munich-Atlanta.

Delta’s hometown airport, Atlanta, remains its busiest international hub with 56 daily departures to 39 international destinations, followed by the U.S’ most visited city, New York-JFK, which has 28 daily departures to 21 international cities.

The milestone reopening provides a boost to global economies while simultaneously marking the start of the recovery of Delta’s international business.

The airline reported this summer that its U.S. domestic leisure business has already rebounded to 2019 levels, but ongoing border restrictions have prevented a meaningful recovery across the globe.

International in-bound travel to the U.S. contributed $234 billion in export income to the U.S. economy, generated a trade surplus of $51 billion and directly supported 1.2 million American jobs in 2019.   

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