One phrase may sum up 2021 summer travel: “Have vaccine passport, will travel.”
After a year stuck at home, many travelers are focused on domestic trips – but it's also clear that travelers are itching to head abroad for any country that will take them. That's the driving force behind United Airlines' new routes announced Monday, with summer service to Reykjavik (KEF) in Iceland, Dubrovnik (DBV) in Croatia, and the Greek capital of Athens (ATH).
Here's a look at all three new routes:
- Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to Reykjavik (KEF): Daily flights on a Boeing 757-200 from July 1 through Oct. 3, 2021.
- Washington, D.C.-Dulles (IAD) to Athens (ATH): Daily flights on a Boeing 787-8 (outfitted with new Polaris business class seats) from July 1 through Oct. 3, 2021.
- Newark (EWR) to Dubrovnik (DBV): 3x weekly flights on a Boeing 767-300ER from July 8 through Oct. 3, 2021.
While United is no stranger to these European cities, all three routes are brand new. And the demand to get there is clear: A United spokeswoman said searches for flights to all three countries are up 61% in just the last month.
“As countries around the world begin the process of reopening, leisure travelers are eager to take a long-awaited getaway to new international destinations,” said Patrick Quayle, United's vice president of international network and alliances, said in a statement. “These three new routes unlock the natural beauty of the outdoors for our guests. They are also the latest example of how United is remaining nimble in rebuilding our network.”
Why These Routes?
While much of Europe copes with a third wave of COVID-19 cases and is still off-limits to travelers, Iceland, Croatia, and Greece are already open to Americans. And Americans are clearly raring to get there.
Iceland opened to vaccinated travelers a month ago, becoming the first country in Europe to welcome back Americans and other foreign tourists. All visitors must provide proof of vaccination like a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccine card.
Croatia was one of the few European countries to welcome international visitors throughout the pandemic until it shut things down in the fall. But now, Croatia allows travelers with proof of full vaccination completed at least 14 days prior – or a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 48 hours before arrival – to enter the country.
And Greece is the latest addition – and a big surprise. The tourism-dependent country had planned to open its borders to Americans and other travelers by mid-May. But on Monday, the Greek government updated its website to show that as of April 19, it was welcoming travelers from a handful of countries (including the U.S.) who could show vaccination certification or a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 72 hours before arrival.
When will international travel resume? Read our country-by-country guide!
The rush to return to travel is officially on. These latest United routes are telling, focused on the few international vacation destinations where Americans are already welcome.
As more countries join those ranks, we're betting these won't be the last exciting new routes to Europe and beyond.