Airlines are experiencing a surge in demand for trips to the US after the White House confirmed it will scrap its ban on fully vaccinated UK travellers.
British Airways said the number of potential customers searching for holidays to key US destinations in the hours after Monday’s announcement was more than seven times higher compared with the same period last week.
Popular locations include New York, Orlando, Las Vegas, Miami, Los Angeles and Boston.
Virgin Atlantic said on Tuesday afternoon that customers using its call centre are having to wait for more than three hours to get through due to the “huge number” of bookings being made.
It urged people with vouchers to rebook flights online.
Bookings to the US increased seven-fold on Monday night compared with the same time last week.
Juha Jarvinen, chief commercial officer at Virgin Atlantic, said: “Following the gradual relaxation of travel restrictions, we’ve seen demand increase to many of our global destinations, but the USA has always been our heartland.
“We are simply not Virgin without the Atlantic and I’m thrilled we’re finally able to return to the country that’s so important to us.”
Currently foreign travellers are banned from entering the US if they have been in the UK, the European Union, China, India, Iran, Brazil or South Africa in the previous 14 days.
White House Covid-19 co-ordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that foreign visitors will be permitted to enter from November if they demonstrate proof of vaccination and a negative test taken in the past three days.
US chief medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci has suggested that British travellers who have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca (AZ) jab will be allowed into the US.
Dr Fauci told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t believe there’s any reason to believe that people who have received the AZ vaccine should feel that there is going to be any problem with them.”
He added: “Given that we have a substantial amount of information on the AZ vaccine – again without being definitive about it – I would predict that there would not be a problem there.”
He noted that the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) national public health agency will make the final decision on which vaccines will be recognised for US entry.
UK travel firms also enjoyed a spike in bookings on Friday and over the weekend after the UK Government announced plans to ease its own travel restrictions.