MSP airport prepares to welcome international travelers again

After 20 long months, the U.S. will re-open to international travelers Monday. Non-U.S. citizens will be allowed to come to America for the first time since the start of the pandemic, as long as they show proof of vaccination.

While global tourists will start hopping on U.S. flights Monday, a spokesperson for the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport says they don’t expect to notice a significant increase in travelers for several months.

Patrick Hogan with the Metropolitan Airports Commission said in an email Sunday that until airlines resume flights suspended during the pandemic, the increase in travelers won’t be noticeable. 

Kyle Potter of Minnesota based travel site Thrifty Traveler says if you’re traveling internationally in the coming weeks, expect delays going through U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"I would be pretty worried about lengthy delays getting into the country," said Potter. "It could get ugly."

Potter says he predicts delays, as U.S. Custom and Border Protection agents will need time to adjust to the new requirements. 

Meanwhile, northern Minnesota communities on the Canadian border are celebrating the news as local economies were greatly impacted by the travel ban.

"Even as COVID restrictions were lifted in 2020 and 2021 on our businesses, we were still missing 30 percent or more of our customers," said Tricia Heibel with the International Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. 

Heibel said they were hopeful Canadian business would return in time for holiday shopping.

"We’re just excited to have some sort of opening and formerly allow them back in," she said.

The new policy, taking effect November 8, requires everyone over the age of 18 to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of air travel. 

Those traveling by ground do not need a negative test. Anyone under the age of two is also exempt from the requirements.