Virgin Atlantic's website temporarily crashed as Britons tried to book flights to visit the US for the first time in more than a year. The news that fully vaccinated British travelers will be able to visit the US from November sparked an explosion in bookings. The White House plans to lift the general 18-month ban on foreign travelers entering the country. The ban was introduced by former President Donald Trump at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Travel site Skyscanner immediately saw a reaction to the news. It reported a 54 percent increase in site traffic after the announcement compared to the same time last week. The US is currently the seventh most searched destination worldwide on Skyscanner. The most popular dates searched by British travelers on or around Thanksgiving on November 25.
Traveling between the UK and the US accounts for a significant portion of tourism for both countries, particularly between London and New York. While travelers in large numbers have continued to search for flights between the UK and the US during the pandemic, the majority of fares booked were mainly short-term essential travel. The US government's announcement that fully vaccinated British visitors will be able to enter the US from November is an important milestone in the reopening of large-scale travel, allowing consumers and businesses to book travel to the US with confidence.
The news will no doubt be welcomed by airports like Heathrow. About 3,8 million Britons visited the US each year prior to the pandemic, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. The news was praised by airlines and travel experts.