Delta, Virgin Atlantic, And British Airways To Require Testing For New York Flights

Delta, Virgin Atlantic, and British Airways have agreed to require testing of its passengers heading to New York. This comes after news broke of a new, highly contagious mutation of the COVID-19 virus found in the United Kingdom led countries around the world to suspend travel to and from the UK or require additional testing.

Delta Air Lines A330-300
Delta Air Lines has joined BA and Virgin for testing before flights to New York. Photo: Getty Images

Gov. Cuomo ask airlines to accept testing before departure voluntarily

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York petitioned British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Delta Air Lines to agree to require testing before boarding voluntarily. British Airways was the first to agree. At his press conference, Gov. Cuomo stated the following:

“There are 3 airlines that come from the UK and fly in to our airports. Our airports are run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The 3 airlines are British Airways, Delta and Virgin Atlantic. They daily are bringing several thousand passengers per day. I am asking those airlines to add New York State to the list of the 120 countries that require tests before the flights leave the UK for New York. 120 countries do it, my request is simple: Please add New York to the list of 120 countries. Well, you’re not a country. I know that but as Governor of New York State, I have asked them to do that. We do have a public health emergency in existence in New York State.”

Gov. Cuomo moved into a bit of hyperbole with “several thousand passengers per day” remark. Nevertheless, there are still a fair number of passengers coming from the UK to New York.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic

Delta provided Simple Flying with more details about the testing program. Along with Virgin Atlantic, the airline will require pre-departure COVID-19 testing for all customers flying from the UK to the United States from Thursday, December 24th.

Virgin Atlantic, Relaunch, New Routes
Virgin and Delta are close partners. Photo: Getty Images

For customers to travel, they will need to prove a negative LAMP or PCR test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure. This is on top of agreeing to wear a face mask during all stages of the journey

Delta is working with Governor Cuomo’s office for the implementation of the program on flights from London-Heathrow to the United Kingdom.

British Airways

According to Gov. Cuomo, British Airways will be doing pre-boarding testing that starts on Tuesday, December 22nd.

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British Airways was the first to sign on to Gov. Cuomo’s plan. Photo: Getty Images

A British Airways spokesperson told Simple Flying the following:

“We have for some time advocated pre-departure testing as a way for people to fly safely without the need for quarantine. We are confident this approach would open routes, stimulate economies and get people travelling with confidence. We welcome the introduction of pre-departure testing to New York, which we know will allow our customers to travel safely home to the US.”

The airline requires passengers to provide certificated negative LAMP or PCR test results for tests taken within 72 hours of flight departure. Moreover, antigen tests are available at Heathrow, along with PCR and LAMP rapid (90-minute results) tests offered by the carrier’s testing partner, Collinson. Altogether the company highlights that evidence shows that pre-departure testing is safer and more reliable than quarantine.

What about other airlines?

American Airlines is not currently flying passengers between New York and London, and United Airlines flies to New Jersey (Newark), so both of those airlines are currently exempt.

There is no national mandate for US arrivals to have a negative test result before arriving. Non-US citizens and permanent residents who were in the UK 14 days before arrival are currently banned from entering the US, so travel numbers are already significantly reduced.

Will the US ban travel from the UK?

Speaking to CNN, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a public health expert, stated he advises against suspending flights from the UK to the US, warning against an overreaction.

UK citizens face travel bans across the world. Photo: Getty Images

After the announcement of the mutation, countries around the world scrambled to temporarily sever travel links between them and the United Kingdom as they learn about this variant. As winter continues around the world, countries across the globe are introducing new restrictions as cases grow at an astonishing rate.

The UK faces a new surge in cases, leading to the lockdowns and travel restrictions that have caused alarm heading into the Christmas holiday.

As of now, and likely for a while, the US will continue to maintain air links to the UK. But, just like China and Italy, and Iran from earlier this year, UK citizens are quickly becoming personae non gratae around the world.

Do you think this testing requirement for flights to New York is a good idea? Let us know in the comments!