ATLANTA - As the U.S. reopens to fully vaccinated international travelers, Delta Air Lines says it has seen a 450% increase in international point-of-sale bookings versus six weeks prior to the announcement.
"Many international flights are expected to operate 100% full on Monday, Nov. 8, with high passenger volume throughout the following weeks," the airline said in a Thursday press release. "The strong demand is reflected across both leisure and business travelers to popular destinations such as New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Boston and Orlando."
Delta says the reopening positively impacts its customers in 33 countries around the world, and the airline will operate 139 flights from 55 international destinations in 38 countries landing in the U.S. starting Nov. 8.
A Delta Air Lines plane taxis toward a gate between other Delta planes at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, U.S., on Monday, July 20, 2009.
"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," said Ed Bastian, Delta’s CEO. "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 on Monday at 9:35 a.m. with dozens more closely behind.
This news suggests an increase in consumer confidence in travel.
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."
Last month, the Biden administration detailed new international COVID-19 air travel policies, including exemptions for kids and new federal contact tracing requirements.
Beginning on Nov. 8, foreign, non-immigrant adults traveling to the U.S. will need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with limited exceptions, and all travelers will need to be tested for the virus before boarding an aircraft to the U.S., with tightened restrictions for those who are not fully vaccinated.
Under the policy, those who are unvaccinated will need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within a day of travel, while those who are vaccinated will be allowed to present a test taken within three days of travel.
Children under 18 will not be required to be fully vaccinated.
The Biden administration has been working with airlines, who will be required to enforce the new procedures, to explain the new policies so they can prepare for implementation. Airlines will be mandated to verify vaccine records, and airlines that don't enforce the requirements could be subject to penalties of up to nearly $35,000 per violation.
This story was reported from Los Angeles. The Associated Press contributed.