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‘It’s going to be a bit sloppy’ – airlines brace for long lines when US lifts travel restrictions

Delta Air Lines Chief Executive Ed Bastian has said that travellers should be prepared for initial long lines when the United States lifts international travel restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers on November 8.

It’s going to be a bit sloppy at first. I can assure you, there will be lines unfortunately … but we’ll get it sorted out,” Bastian said at a US travel event.

“We’re going to have a good surge of demand but in order to keep that surge up we’re going to need to make it easier and easier for people to figure out what the documentation requirements are.”

U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday signed an order imposing new vaccine requirements for most foreign national air travellers and lifting severe travel restrictions on China, India and much of Europe effective November 8.

Airlines will check vaccination documentation for international travellers as they currently do for Covid-19 test results.

US Travel Chief Executive Roger Dow said in an interview he was concerned whether U.S. border officials would be prepared for the November 8 surge.

“I think there will probably be a few hiccups,” Dow said, saying the travel industry thinks the international travel increase “will be much bigger than people expect.”

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said at the travel event the department is preparing for a significant domestic and international holiday air travel increase. “”I think we’re going to be equipped to handle what we hope to be a real surge in holiday traffic,” Mayorkas said.

Last week, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines and the White House said they do not think the Biden administration’s executive order mandating that federal contractors require employee vaccinations by December 8 will impact holiday travel or result in employees leaving.

Some airlines and industry watchers initially feared an exodus of unvaccinated airline or government employees involved in travel just before the Christmas season but airlines later said that would not happen and cited comments from the White House last week.

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