International Arrivals Surge Under New US Travel Rules

Travelers from more than 30 countries previously banned by coronavirus restrictions poured into US airports on Monday, the first day on which visitors coming from those countries, but travel from abroad still lagged far behind prepandemic levels.

This was the first time that airlines have required proof of vaccination for travelers boarding flights to the United States. Visitors also were required to show proof of a negative coronavirus test.

As photos of emotional reunions spread across social media on Monday, 206,990 international travelers arrived at US airports, according to Customs and Border Protection. This is nearly 40,000 more travelers from abroad than the United States received on a typical day in 2020.

Visitors from England, Ireland, France, Brazil, China, India, Iran and 26 other previously restricted countries were welcomed in the change, which signaled a shift toward normality, an enormously significant development that buoyed hopes for hotels, restaurants, long-divided families and companies with overseas employees.

The overall number of incoming travelers, including US citizens but not counting crew members, falls far short of a typical day in 2019, when 371,912 people, including air passengers and crew, flew into the United States. (Estimates for a typical day in 2021 are not yet available.)

On Monday the New York City area alone welcomed more than 37,800 people from abroad at Kennedy International Airport, the busiest in the country, and Newark Liberty International Airport, according to the border agency. Miami International Airport, the second-busiest in the country on Monday, received more than 21,000 travelers from abroad.

Numerous airlines are adding back flights to schedules they had slashed during the pandemic in the hope that travelers will take advantage of renewed access to United States. As of Monday, Air France had increased Paris-to-Kennedy flights to five a day from three. And British Airways said it had increased flights to New York to five a day from one daily flight. United Airlines said it was expecting to fly more than 30,000 passengers to the United States on Monday, about 10,000 more than on the previous Monday.

But overall, the total number of flights into the United States, 1,376, was not much different than the week before – up about 60 flights from the previous Monday, according to Cirium, an aviation data firm.

Numerous airlines and tourism analysts have expressed optimism that the real bump in travel to the United States from abroad will occur over the holidays.

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