Interest In International Travel Skyrocketing Now That Testing Requirements Lifted

In the first 72 hours since the announcement that the U.S. requirement for a negative Covid-19 test to fly to the country would end United Airlines reported 2.4 million searches for international travel on its website. That’s a 7% increase week-over-week. (HT: @crucker)

To be clear, people still should not travel if they’re sick. But the testing requirement wasn’t just keeping people from traveling when sick. It was keeping them from travel because of hassle and uncertainty.

  • Proctored self tests are easy to get, not cheap but not super expensive, but for those that haven’t done them before they can seem daunting – as is figuring out how and where to get a test on the ground in a foreign country.

  • And the chance of an asymptomatic positive surprise, coupled with the additional cost of lodging and meals on the ground is a big risk. I’ve reported on airlines quoting difference in fare (thousands of dollars per person) even where waivers should apply.

  • That’s on top of the uncertainty of not knowing when you’ll be home and people make plans for watching pets, have to return to work and other commitments – while those all get thrown for a loop.

It’s the uncertainty that made travel to the U.S. hard, and flying back to the U.S. hard. So it’s no surprise that the interest in international travel spiked with the elimination of this uncertainty. There’s no word on exactly how much of a spike in international bookings we’re seeing – people may search and get sticker shock with demand outpacing the addition of flights back to schedules.

Now that testing is available (still wise before seeing the vulnerable, and important for treatment), most people can be protected against the worst outcomes from boosters (and ineligible children were at lower risk to begin with) and Paxlovid is for most a cure if taken shortly after symptom onset, people just aren’t worried about catching the virus anymore. With so much background immunity hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. And even the CDC finally gave up on the requirement.

By the way the federal government is still half-heartedly litigating the CDC transportation mask requirement when they’re not worried about pre-departure testing to fly without masks.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Does a US Citizen returning still have to prove they have had the shots? Can’t find any clear answers on that!

  2. Thank you Grandpa Joe, I am so grateful. I was getting kinda fed up walking across the border. Didn’t get any miles for it either.

  3. The supposedly ‘asymptomatic’ person who might have postponed their flight after a positive test will now instead be sitting next to you on a 12 hour flight. For many people this adds *more* not less uncertainty to travel planning.

Comments are closed.