Starting Monday, Europe Flights Will Again Be Allowed At Any U.S. Airport

The U.S. currently only permits 15 airports to receive flights from Europe (including the U.K.), China, or Brazil. That’s because passengers arriving on flights from these places are supposed to be specially screened for Covid-19, since they along with Iran are deemed high risk areas.

These airports are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York JFK, Newark, Seattle, San Francisco and Washington Dulles. American Airlines hubs Philadelphia, Charlotte, and Phoenix aren’t on this list. Neither is Delta’s Minneapolis hub.

The passenger screening requirement is expected to go away on Monday, September 14. And that means there will be no more need for ‘funneling’ airports, opening up the possibility of flights between the U.S. and Europe especially from more airports.

As of Monday, however, international flights will no longer be funneled into select airports for screening purposes and all screenings will come to a halt, according to communications and sources. All screenings and rerouting of select international flights will cease at exactly 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 14.

Currently, travelers upon arrival to the United States are sent to health screeners who take their temperatures and conduct a basic health screening with questions about typical COVID-19 symptoms. After the health screening, passengers proceed through passport control and customs.

Aside from lower risk of Europeans arriving in the United States than Americans already being here, there wasn’t much screening of arriving passengers anyway by contractor AMR which performed most of them, or the CDC which ostensibly supervised the process.

And while there’s been some concern expressed that without screening, traveler contact information won’t be collected, and it won’t then be possible to do contact tracing, though little is actually lost.

  • This is contact tracing of people not believed to have the infection

  • Even if someone was on a flight with a passenger who turns out to be infected, they’re statistically unlikely to have gotten the virus on board

  • Contact information can be obtained by immigration authorities if the government were so inclined

  • There was very little handoff of information between CDC and local health departments to begin with. Even aside from arriving international passengers there’s been very little contact tracing in much of the country.

This, of course, was what funneling was like when it began for European flights back in mid-March:

It made zero sense to be specially screening arrivals from Europe…. but not Qatar or Mexico where infection rates have been worse. The next step that makes sense is to lift the ban on arrivals of non-residents who have been in Europe or China within the past 14 days, as they’re lower risk than many Americans (even with the surge in cases in Spain and France).

Expanding the program to include Philadelphia (and potentially Charlotte) was the number two lobbying priority behind a second round of subsidies for American Airlines. But this will work just as well. They will be allowed to operate Philadelphia – Europe flights.

(HT: Jonathan W.)

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 »

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  1. However the ban on travel entry is still in effect, correct? It’s not being lifted also with this.

  2. @Gary
    Your final paragraph confuses me. You say PHL will be reopened to international flights, but you’re a little vague on CLT. Will CLT reopen or not? I was on AA’s website a couple of days ago and saw a CLT-MAD flight in the not too distant future.

  3. @Charlie – I simply meant that American cared about pushing to get Philadelphia included, that was their priority, Charlotte was less of a priority

  4. Planes can fly to more airports, but EU, Brazilian and Chinese citizens are still banned from entering?
    Which airline will resume service with empty flights?

  5. @Gary
    Thanks for the explanation.

    I’ve never understood why AA (and US before them) has chosen to use PHL rather than CLT for so many transatlantic flights. I live much closer to PHL than to CLT, but I will always select CLT for a flight to Europe over PHL. Not only is the airport much nicer at CLT, but the flights don’t have to compete in the congested NYC airspace.

  6. Please explain. My boyfriend is in Uk England, twice hes been denied flying to US even with esta visa waiver. So is the ban lifting soon???


  8. Thanks for the update. Any idea of when the European restriction might be lifted? Like Cheralyn (but the other way around) I am in the position that my gf is american and in our FL house and I am in the UK, waiting to get back out to see my gf.

  9. Given that Europe today recorded more cases than the US, I don’t see a US ban being lifted anytime soon.

  10. Really confusing post saying European airlines can fly to any airport in USA. Is that true? If that is true then is the EU ban been lifted?

  11. I am in a pretty crappy spot as well. Fiancee is Filipino lives and works in Hong Kong have no idea when I will get over to see her next let alone get married.

  12. I am a flight attendant at AA that until recently , had exclusively flown our very profitable RDU-LHR route for 13 years. Now our RDU base is closing in February 2021 and I sm praying and very hopeful the CDG Paris flight will make acome back as well as all the other amazing European seasonal destinations that were packed. I know Delta is planning to bring back CDG from Rdu. And I know RDU-LHR will hopefully operate again but with the RDU base closing and becoming a “satellite base” I will/would unlikely be able to bid and fly that route again with only 29 years of seniority. So as a Qualified French speaker, I’m praying for the Paris CDG flight to triumphantly return soon.

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