On 8th November, the United States of America reopened its borders to foreign visitors from select countries, meaning air travel can resume for both business and leisure travellers for the first time in over one and a half years. The US closed its borders in efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.
Travellers from the UK, 26 European Schengen countries, India, China, South Africa, Brazil and Iran will now be allowed to enter the United States without the need to quarantine, provided they can provide proof of being fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and also show proof of a negative Covid-19 test result no more than three days prior to travelling to the United States.
In order to celebrate the occasion, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic teamed up to operate a very rare (for Heathrow) synchronised dual take-off of two flights both heading from London Heathrow to New York JFK, both operating the service with an Airbus A350-1000. British Airways’ PR team went one step further and resurrected the flight number BA1 – callsign Speedbird 1; the flight number and callsign formerly reserved for the airline’s flagship Concorde LHR-JFK service, before being taken over by the now defunct London City-JFK service.
Before the pandemic, the route was the most profitable in the world, with up to ten flights per day operated by flag carriers British Airways and American Airlines alone. The flights were operated as code-shares as both BA and American are members of the Oneworld airline alliance. Additional flights on LHR-JFK with other airlines were also available in addition to flights to and from other London and New York airports, such as London Gatwick and Newark Liberty.
Matt is a London-based writer and reporter for International Flight Network who has been involved in aviation from a very young age. He has a particular focus on aircraft safety, accidents and technical details.