Hundreds of passengers were left waiting for hours at JFK airport yesterday after three flights arrived at the same time on the day the US border reopened, according to reports.
As the plane landed in Manchester and tired passengers surged into customs, enraged passengers slammed officials for the ‘disgraceful’ planning.
Masked people stood in huge lines as they waited to be admitted into the country for the first time in 600 days, according to one flier who shared footage of the scene on social media.
It’s unclear whether airports hired more employees for the grand reopening, but it comes despite complaints that they weren’t prepared for the massive flood of travelers.
More than 10,000 passengers traveled from London to New York City on the first day since the coronavirus outbreak that the US border was accessible to international travelers.
As numbers climbed back to pre-pandemic levels, British Airways flew 8,600 passengers on 26 planes and Virgin Atlantic flew 4,500 passengers on ten shuttles into JFK.
Britons sobbed as they were reunited with friends and relatives in the United States, with some sprinting off aircraft to share stories from their 20-month separation.
However, on the first day of the new era in US travel, JFK was met with outrage on social media from passengers trapped in long lines owing to an apparent aircraft mix-up.
One Twitter user accused three planes landing at the same time from Manchester Airport in the United Kingdom for the traffic jam.
’20 months closed gives us plenty of time to get things right, and JFK Airport lines are a disgrace, with three flights landing at the same time from Manchester,’ he added.
‘Two hours dude, pathetic,’ he said when asked how long he had been waiting. We were all hot and bothered. Now we’re getting close to Manhattan.’
Long lines were also reported to have formed at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 as enthusiastic passengers checked in for their flights but were told they would have to wait.
Meanwhile, flyers crossed the border to find disappointment as the supply chain problem continued to cause shortages in the food and beverage sectors, despite warnings that the country was not prepared for the flood of tourists.
Despite the chaos, the CEOs of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic maintained a cheerful attitude. ‘It’s been 600 days since the US border has been closed to UK nationals,’ said Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss.
‘To see passengers arriving early in the morning, grandparents visiting grandchildren they’ve never met, families reuniting, individuals caring for the old, and businesses reconciling is truly a day of celebration for all of us in the industry, and, of course, for Virgin Atlantic.’
He referred to the transatlantic route as “one of the world’s most vital.” ‘We say it wouldn’t be Virgin without the Atlantic here at Virgin Atlantic,’ he remarked.
Sean Doyle, Mr. Weiss’ British Airways colleague, had previously stated that the reopening of US borders was a “time to celebrate” after “more than 600 days of separation.”
Loved ones and friends wept as they embraced for the first time in 20 months at JFK, and passengers were generally in good spirits.
Others waited outside the arrivals exit, holding signs with sweet sentiments like “we missed you for two years.”
To fulfill the rising demand for travel, airlines have increased flight schedules between the United Kingdom and the United States. According to travel data firm Cirium, 3,688 aircraft are planned to fly between the two countries this month.
Although this is up 21% from October, it is still 49% below pre-pandemic levels in November 2019.
According to the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office, around 3.8 million British nationals visited the United States each year prior to the pandemic.
Since Covid, however, only American citizens, green-card holders, and those who have secured national interest exemptions have been authorized to enter.
The nations that were blacklisted account for only 17% of global travel but 53% of US tourism in 2019.
It will take until 2024 for travel revenue to recover to its previous level. The travel ban resulted in the loss of almost 1 million jobs, including those at airports and among airlines.
Foreign travelers must also show documentation of a negative result from a test done no more than three days before travel, or that they have recovered from the virus in the previous three months, in addition to being completely vaccinated.
Travelers who are not completely immunized are granted limited exemptions. Children under the age of two are not need to be vaccinated, but those aged two to seventeen must take a coronavirus test three to five days after arriving.
Travelers from the United States to the United Kingdom must take a test on or before the second day following their arrival.