In November, Delta announced a similar program with quarantine-free flights from Atlanta to Rome for travelers who tested negative for the coronavirus and were eligible to enter the European Union despite existing travel restrictions. American Airlines also has a program. However, Friday's announcement applies beyond essential workers to leisure travelers.
Italy is set to lift mandatory quarantine restrictions on travelers from the EU, United Kingdom and Israel on Sunday.
"It is encouraging that the Italian government has taken this step forward to reopen the country to leisure travelers from the U.S. on our dedicated protocol flights and further supporting economic recovery from the global pandemic," Delta's president-international, Alain Bellemare, said in a statement Friday.
Before boarding flights to Italy, all U.S. Delta customers must complete mandatory testing before and on arrival. Once travelers produce a negative coronavirus test in Italy, they can bypass a mandatory quarantine.
To return to the United States, travelers must show airlines a negative test result taken within three days of departure or show proof they've recovered from covid-19 in the past 90 days - regardless of vaccination status.
Scott Keyes, founder of Scott's Cheap Flights and author of "Take More Vacations," says the announcement is huge news for American tourists who hope to visit Europe this summer.
"Each previous time a European country has announced its reopening date - from Iceland to Croatia to Greece - it's been followed immediately by a surge in flight searches from Americans excited for a big first post-vaccination trip," Keyes said in an email. "I'd expect the exact same cycle to play out with today's Italy news."
Delta, in partnership with Alitalia, has multiple departure options for its nonstop services to Italy. The airline is offering daily services between John F. Kennedy International Airport and Milan Malpensa Airport, five-times-per-week services between Atlanta and Rome (increasing to daily services May 26) and three-times-per-week services from JFK to Rome (increasing to daily services July 1). This summer, the airline will release three more nonstop routes from JFK to Venice, Atlanta to Venice and Boston to Rome.
Bryan Del Monte, president of the Aviation Agency, says he doesn't expect Delta's quarantine-free flight program to emerge as the dominant format for restoring international travel.
"The way forward would appear to be a vaccination for travelers," Del Monte said in an email. "While I think travelers could expect to be tested, and that may be what some countries want to restore normal travel, in a short period of time, it's more likely that countries will require proof of vaccination for entry."
Del Monte recommends everyone hoping to visit Italy or other international destinations should get vaccinated.
"Everyone is going to require [vaccinations] until it's universally everywhere in high doses," he said.
According to data from the travel management company TripActions, the top booked Italian travel destinations this summer are Rome, Naples and Florence. Its chief travel officer, Danny Finkel, says he believes Delta's announcement will create a domino effect of reopenings across Europe. Additionally, he believes that after a year without travel, Americans may have more discretionary savings available for booking international vacations.
"With COVID restrictions changing daily, staying on top of the latest information can be overwhelming, so it's important you go into your trip with all the information and tools you need to make the best decisions for your return to travel," he advised travelers in an email.
With the addition of Italy, Delta will have four European travel destinations for leisure travelers later this summer, along with Iceland, Greece and Croatia. At the publishing of this story, flights with coronavirus tests from JFK to Milan on Sunday start at $599 for a one-week trip on basic economy (however, flight prices can vary wildly before takeoff).
The Delta announcement said service start dates are subject to change pending evolving travel restrictions and demand.
Published : May 15, 2021
By : The Washington Post · Natalie B. Compton