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British Airways Boosts US Flights

The carrier says bookings to the UK surged 95 percent within hours of the government’s decision to lift restrictions for vaccinated travelers

August 2, 2021

British Airways is adding nearly 50 percent more capacity on key routes between the US and the UK. The announcement comes in the wake of the British government’s decision last week to lift restrictions on vaccinated travelers to England from the US and the European Union,

Within hours of the government’s announcement, the carrier said bookings from the US surge by 95 percent. Starting Aug. 2, fully-vaccinated travelers to England from the US and most of the European Union will no longer need to quarantine upon arrival.

As a result, carriers are ramping up capacity from US gateways to London Heathrow. Beginning Aug. 16, British Airways will boost the number of flights between New York-JFK and LHR to 21 per week (up from 17), while Los Angeles and Chicago flights will increase to 10 per week (up from seven).

Starting Aug. 23, BA will fly seven per week between Seattle and London Heathrow (up from four) and Los Angeles will add another four flights, bringing the total lift to 14 per week.

The airline said it intends to “continue to broaden its schedule between the USA and UK throughout September.”

In addition, the carrier is boosting frequencies from London to cities including Berlin, Geneva and Hamburg, promising that “the schedules will be continually reviewed to ensure the number of seats available matches customer interest.”

The increase in flight schedules into New York coincides with the reopening of BA’s New York JFK Terminal 7 lounge on Aug. 1, following a 16-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Customers from the US will be able to take advantage of the increased timetable, as well as services to the UK with BA’s transatlantic partner and fellow Oneworld Alliance member American Airlines. The partnership with American, according to a BA announcement, provides one-stop connections aboard either airline from American’s key hubs in the US into London.

British Airways’ move follows United Airlines’ announcement late last week that it would increase its schedule between the US and the UK to six daily flights. New services would include daily service from its hubs in Washington, DC, and Houston to London Heathrow.

Passengers traveling to England should note they will still have to present a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test and another on Day 2 after arrival. Travelers from the US must have received all recommended doses of one of FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson.

A person is fully vaccinated two weeks or more after receiving a “full course” of the vaccine, meaning both shots of vaccines that require them (see CDC vaccination guidelines here).

Arriving passengers will need to show either a US-issued vaccine card or an EU Digital Covid Certificate. Unvaccinated travelers amber list countries, which includes most of Europe and the US, are still required to quarantine on arrival (see UK government COVID travel guide here).

“We are very much looking forward to welcoming new visitors from the US and EU to the UK,” noted Sean Doyle, British Airways’ chairman and CEO. “We will support our customers as we emerge from this crisis and hope for crucial travel corridors to be established to allow reciprocal agreements.”