Since January 2021, air passengers at least two years old flying into the United States need a negative pre-arrival test to fly. International travel still remains below pre-pandemic levels for leisure and business trips. To invigorate demand for overseas flights, domestic airlines and other travel group leaders are hoping to remove this testing requirement for fully vaccinated travelers.
Relaxed Testing Requirements For U.S.-Bound Flights
Airlines for America, representing the various domestic carriers along with other travel industry groups, are requesting that fully vaccinated travelers flying to the United States no longer need a negative Covid-19 test result. The parties sent a letter to the Biden Administration on February 2, 2022.
If the testing changes go into effect, any international visitor or returning American that’s fully vaccinated or has recently recovered in the last 90 days won’t need a diagnostic test.
Currently, any air passenger at least two years old must procure a negative test result within one day of flying to the United States.
While it’s still too soon to see if the testing requirements for U.S.-bound flights will loosen, some nations are already taking similar steps.
For example, the United Kingdom will no longer require pre-arrival or post-travel testing for vaccinated travelers, starting February 11, 2022. The international travel guidelines for several Latin American and Caribbean nations also do not require a negative entry test result.
In addition, Portugal recently announced they are waiving the testing requirement for visitors with an EU Covid Digital Certificate.
International Visitors Must Be Fully Vaccinated
So, why are the airlines asking for this testing change now? One reason is that eligible international visitors must be fully vaccinated or be recently recovered from Covid-19 to visit the U.S., according to the current CDC travel requirements.
While there isn’t a similar vaccine mandate for returning U.S. citizens, vaccination rates and vaccine availability across the general population are higher than a year ago. For instance, when the testing requirement originally went into effect, the Covid-19 vaccine was only available to healthcare workers, senior citizens and high-risk individuals.
There are more ways to address the spread of the novel coronavirus, which is why the airlines are requesting the testing requirements to be relaxed. While it’s still too soon to see if the U.S. government will ease the entry requirements, a policy change would make it easier to fly to the United States.