Transatlantic flights booked out as United States lifts travel ban

Aer Lingus describes re-opening as an important moment for the Irish economy

Non-essential travel from Ireland to the United States has resumed, with several flights to leave Dublin Airport from Monday morning.

Aer Lingus has said almost every seat on its transatlantic flights to the US were booked up this week.

The airline’s chief executive Lynne Embleton said Monday marked a “very important day” for the Irish airline.

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“After 20 long months, we are re-establishing Dublin Airport as the most efficient connecting hub between the US and Europe.”


The airline operates 70 flights to and from the US, to destinations such as New York, Washington DC, Boston and Chicago. Aer Lingus said it planned to run 16 different transatlantic routes next year, and increase its capacity on the flights over the coming months.

The airline also plans to re-introduce flights from Shannon to the US next March, with 14 flights per week to destinations such as New York and Boston.

Irish citizens travelling to the US will be required to show proof of vaccination, as well as a negative Covid-19 test taken in the previous three days.

There will also be contact tracing checks carried out before departure.

The ban on air travellers from Europe was put in place by former US president Donald Trump last year in response to the spreading Covid-19 pandemic.

Flights from Dublin to the US on Monday included journeys to Chicago, New York, and Boston.

Passengers have been advised to download the VeriFLY app, where they can upload necessary Covid-19 documentation, such as vaccination certificates.

Peter O’Neill, Aer Lingus chief operating officer, said transatlantic customers would not be able to check in online without using the app.

The United States expects a flood of international visitors crossing its borders by air and by land on Monday after lifting travel restrictions for much of the world’s population.

United Airlines is expecting about 50 per cent more total international inbound passengers on Monday compared to last Monday when it had about 20,000 passengers.

And Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian has warned travellers should be prepared for initial long lines.

"It's going to be a bit sloppy at first. I can assure you, there will be lines unfortunately," Mr Bastian said, adding that "we'll get it sorted out".

Delta said in the six weeks since the US reopening was announced it has seen a 450 per cent increase in international point-of-sale bookings versus the six weeks prior to the announcement.

White House spokesman Kevin Munoz said on Twitter “As we expect high demand when the US lifts its existing air and land travel restrictions Monday, we are taking critical steps to be prepared by providing additional resources.”

The Biden administration has held multiple calls with US airlines to prepare for the influx of additional travellers that will begin arriving at US airports and has warned travellers crossing from Canada and Mexico by land or ferry to be prepared for longer waits starting Monday.

US airlines are boosting flights to Europe and other destinations that were impacted by the restrictions. Airlines are planning events on Monday with executives meeting some of the first flights.

Commerce secretary Gina Raimondo and United Airlines president Brett Hart are holding an event at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Monday to mark the reopening.

Airlines will check vaccination documentation for international travellers as they currently do for Covid-19 test results. At land border crossings, US Customs and Border Protection will ask if travellers have been vaccinated and spot check some documentation. – Additional reporting: Reuters

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is acting Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times