Delta Air Lines’ first quarantine-free flight took off from Atlanta, heading for Amsterdam today. The route is one of two on which Delta is advertising its quarantine-free option. While tourist travel remains closed, Delta hopes that this is an opportunity to lay the groundwork for reopening long-haul international travel.
The first quarantine-free flight
On Tuesday, Delta’s first quarantine-free flight took off from Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson International Airport (ATL), heading to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS). With testing required on both ends of the flight, Delta noted that all passengers and crew on the flight had tested COVID-19 negative, making it a COVID-free flight.
Perry Cantarutti, Delta’s Senior Vice President – Alliances and International, stated the following:
“Air travel is the backbone of the global economy. In normal times, it supports more than 87 million jobs and contributes to $3.5 trillion in GDP worldwide. The arrival of a vaccine is fantastic news, but it will take time for it to become widely available around the world. It’s for this reason we have worked tirelessly with the authorities and our partners to create a blueprint for travel corridors that will enable air travel to safely resume.”
The quarantine-free program
Delta’s quarantine-free program allows customers who are permitted to travel to the Netherlands for essential reasons, including for work, health, and education purposes, to avoid a quarantine on arrival in the Netherlands.
Before departing, passengers must test negative from a PCR test taken five days before arrival in Amsterdam. At the airport in Atlanta, customers have to take a rapid test to confirm their negative results before boarding.
Then, after arriving in Amsterdam, customers will take another PCR test at Schiphol Airport. Once that test result comes back negative, passengers will not need to quarantine.
The cost of both airport tests is included in the price of the ticket, according to Delta.
COVID-tested flights to Amsterdam are being operated in conjunction with transatlantic partner KLM. Flights will run four days a week. Twice a week, they will be Delta flights. The other two times a week, it will be KLM-operated flights.
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Rome flights will start on Saturday
On December 19th, Delta will expand its COVID-tested flight program with no quarantine after arrival with flights from Atlanta to Rome. The Rome service operates three times a week.
For this flight, customers will need to report a negative PCR test 72 hours before departure, test negative using the rapid test at Atlanta prior to boarding. On arrival in Rome, customers will take a second rapid test. If that is negative, passengers will not need to quarantine.
Laying the groundwork for reopening international travel
Delta Air Lines is suffering amid the global crisis due to a massive downturn in long-haul international travel demand. This has stemmed mostly from border closures in key markets, such as Europe and Australia.
Delta joins several other airlines testing COVID-free flights as an attempt to provide data for governments and health agencies to examine a reopening of international, quarantine-free travel. This would allow more people to travel internationally, which would help Delta fill more of its aircraft and thus give the airline more revenue.
Delta Air Lines is also running a voluntary contact tracing program for inbound international passengers.
Were you a part of this first quarantine-free flight to the Netherlands? Let us know in the comments!