Airlines brace for first ‘long lines’ when US lifts travel restrictions

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WASHINGTON – Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said Tuesday that travelers should be prepared for the initial long lines when the United States lifts international travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travelers on November 8.

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“It’s going to be a bit sloppy at first. I can assure you that, unfortunately, there will be queues … but we will fix it, ”Bastian said at a travel event to the United States.

“We are going to have a good increase in demand, but to maintain that increase we will have to make it easier and easier for people to figure out what the documentation requirements are.”

US President Joe Biden on Monday signed an order imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign air travelers and lifting severe travel restrictions in China, India and much of Europe effective 8 November.

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Airlines will verify vaccination documentation for international travelers as they currently do for COVID-19 test results.

US Travel Chief Executive Roger Dow said in an interview that he was concerned whether US border officials would be prepared for the November 8 surge.

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“I think there will probably be some setbacks,” Dow said, saying the travel industry believes that the increase in international travel “will be much greater than people expect.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at the travel event that the department is preparing for a significant increase in air travel on national and international holidays. “” I think we will be equipped to handle what we hope will be a real increase in holiday traffic, “Mayorkas said.

Last week, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines and the White House said they do not believe that the Biden administration’s executive order requiring federal contractors to require employees to be vaccinated by Dec. 8 will affect vacation travel or cause them to employees leave.

Some airlines and industry observers initially feared an exodus of unvaccinated airlines or government employees involved in travel just before the holiday season, but airlines later said that would not happen and cited comments from the White House last week.

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