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UPDATE: The new rules for travel from Spain to the US in November 2021

From Monday November 8th, the United States will lift Covid travel restrictions on passengers from Spain if they’re fully vaccinated and meet other conditions. Here are the requirements and everything else you need to know before booking.

UPDATE: The new rules for travel from Spain to the US in November 2021
A plane prepares to land at JFK airport in New York. Scheduled flights between Spain and the US will increase from November 8th. Photo: Johannes EISELE / AFP

It was in the pipeline since the end of summer but the good news was officially confirmed by the US government in mid-October 2021.

“The new US policy on travel that will require foreign travellers to the US to be fully vaccinated, will enter into force on November 8th,” the White House said in a statement on Friday.

This lifting of the ban on non-essential travel applies to arrivals from Spain and all other Schengen countries, the UK, Brasil, India, South Africa, China and Iran.

The easing of travel restrictions, imposed 19 months ago by former president Donald Trump as the Covid-19 pandemic first erupted, marked a significant shift by Biden and answered a major demand from the US’s European allies at a time of strained diplomatic relations.

But what does it mean for people in Spain who want to travel to the US?

Can I travel from Spain to the US for a holiday from November 8th?

Yes, if you were fully vaccinated 14 or more days before your flight, you will be able to travel to the US from Spain for non-essential purposes such as holidays or to visit friends or family. Quarantine on arrival will not be required.

However, vaccinated travellers from Spain and other countries have to show a negative Covid-19 test result taken within three days before travel to the United States.

Minors under the age of 18 will not have to meet the US’s new vaccine requirements but those aged 2 to 17 will have to take a Covid test.

Two types of viral tests are accepted: nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs, most commonly PCRs) or antigen tests.

Even though the vaccination requirement will have to be met by most international travellers, unvaccinated US nationals and US residents in Spain who want to fly back will be able to do so. So will unvaccinated diplomatic staff, people with documented medical contraindications to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine and a few other exceptions listed here

Any of these unvaccinated travellers for whom the US’s vaccination rules do not apply have to present a negative Covid-19 test carried out within 24 hours before travel rather than the 72 hours for vaccinated travellers.

If travelling with a fully vaccinated adult, an unvaccinated child can test 72 hours before departure. But if an unvaccinated child is travelling alone or with unvaccinated adults, then they will have to test within 24 hours before departure.

Which Covid-19 vaccines are accepted for travel from Spain to the US?

The United States will accept all vaccines that have been approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the FDA.

That means US authorities currently accept Pfizer/BioNtech, AstraZeneca, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Moderna, Sinovac/Coronavac and Sinopharm inoculations.

People who have been vaccinated with two different doses of Covid-19 vaccines will be considered fully vaccinated by US authorities, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed.

“While the CDC has not recommended mixing types of a vaccine in a primary series, we recognise that this is increasingly common in other countries so should be accepted for the interpretation of vaccine records,” a spokesperson said.

The US will not accept a single vaccine dose after catching Covid, as is standard practice in Spain.

If your vaccination status is different, the CDC’s newly released travel assessment tool allows you to get a personalised answer to any vaccine and other travel doubts you may have. 

What documentation will I need to travel from Spain to the US?

The US accepts proof of Covid-19 vaccination in the form of a paper or digital vaccination certificate with QR code, with the CDC naming a “digital pass via smartphone application with QR code” such as that of “United Kingdom National Health Service COVID Pass or the European Union Digital COVID Certificate”.

In Spain, each region’s health authority has a system in place which allows people to have a digital copy or printed proof that they’ve had their full Covid-19 vaccine treatment.  This Digital COVID Certificate, also referred to as a Covid health pass, was primarily launched to facilitate travel within the EU during the pandemic.  

As expected, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also issued a Contact Tracing Order applicable from November 8th that requires all airlines flying into the US to collect and store for 30 days arrivals’ contact information so that health officials can have access to this and track potential infections. That means that your airline will ask you to fill in a form with all your main contact details.

Travellers will also have sign an attestation that states that they’ve been vaccinated and are warned that “wilfully providing false or misleading information may lead to criminal fines and imprisonment”.

Don’t forget either that you will probably need to get the US’s ESTA-Visa Waiver or another type of authorisation before flying to the US.

 

Are there more flights scheduled from Spain to the US for November?

Anglo-Spanish airline Iberia has already reacted to the good news by increasing its offering of flights from Spain to the United States, stating that the “rate of bookings is positive” already.

As a sign of this apparent return to normality, Iberia will operate 70 direct weekly flights between the two countries this winter, flying to US cities such as New York, Miami, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles. Air Europa, Spain’s second biggest airline, also operates flights between the US and Spain but has not yet announced how many of the previous routes will restart.

A new United Airlines flight between New York and Tenerife in the Canary Islands and Mallorca in the Balearics has also been recently announced.

However, according to Adit Damodaran of travel research firm Hopper, growing demand could mean flight prices rise as Europeans regain their thirst for easy travel to the US.

Remember to also factor in that depending on your nationality, you may need a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver, which costs $14 and is valid for multiple trips within a two-year period. 

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Spain’s summer strike calendar: The days you might want to avoid flying

Following the announcement that Ryanair and EasyJet staff have added further strike days in July 2022, we list the dates that travellers looking to fly to and from Spain may want to avoid booking tickets for.

Spain's summer strike calendar: The days you might want to avoid flying

Strike action by Spain-based cabin crew working for Ryanair and EasyJet will continue throughout the month of July, unions representing staff for Europe’s two biggest low-cost airlines have confirmed.

EasyJet’s strike days in July will continue as initially announced on June 21st.

In Ryanair’s case, the six-day stoppage was meant to come to an end on Saturday July 2nd, but a further 12 days of strikes have been added throughout the month of July due to the failure to reach an agreement over cabin crew’s low pay and work conditions. 

“After six days of strike and in view of the unwillingness of the company to listen to its staff and its preference for leaving thousands of passengers grounded rather than sitting down to negotiate an agreement under Spanish law, we have been forced to call new strike days,” USO unionist Lidia Arasanz said with regard to the 1,900 Ryanair employees they represent.

So far, the stoppages by Ryanair and Easyjet staff have not meant that absolutely all their flights to and from Spain have been cancelled, but dozens of scheduled flights have indeed not taken off and hundreds more have suffered delays on these previous strike days. 

Minimum services have been provided for flights within the Spanish mainland and to and from the Canary and Balearic Islands, especially those leaving from Madrid, Málaga, Barcelona, ​​Alicante, Seville, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Girona, Santiago de Compostela and Ibiza airports.

A Ryanair cabin crew member holds a placard reading “Ryanair, low salaries made simple” as she protests at Terminal 2 of El Prat airport in Barcelona on June 24, 2022. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

For international flights the situation is more complicated, especially for Ryanair passengers with scheduled flights from Belgium, Italy, France and Portugal, as the low-cost airline’s cabin crew in those countries have also joined the strikes.

Even though UK-based Ryanair and EasyJet staff are not on strike, the sheer number of flights between Spain and the UK has meant that thousands of British holidaymakers have already been affected.

Málaga, Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca’s airports have reportedly been the most affected by Ryanair and EasyJet flight cancellations thus far.

READ ALSO: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?

Many EasyJet and Ryanair passengers who have already booked flights to and from Spain for July will no doubt want to know with plenty of notice if their flight will be cancelled, something that is not possible to know in most cases until the airline emails or texts them.

Ryanair’s management has said it expects “minimal (if any) disruption to its flight schedules in July as a result of minor and poorly- supported Spanish labour strikes”, although if what’s happened over the course of late June and early July is anything to go by, that won’t necessarily be the case.

The Irish carrier did acknowledge that “air traffic control strikes and airport staff shortages across Europe (which are beyond Ryanair’s control) may however cause some minor disruption and passengers whose flights are disrupted will be notified by email/SMS”.

It is possible to use Ryanair’s flight tracker to check on the status of your upcoming flight, but you’re unlikely to get accurate information if done lots of days in advance.

Dozens of EasyJet flights have been cancelled so far, even though the airline’s management says it intends to operate all of them. (Photo by Pau BARRENA / AFP)

EasyJet has also said it intends to operate all its scheduled flights in July, whilst acknowledging that there could be some delays and other disruptions. 

On Sunday July 3rd, eight EasyJet flights to and from Spain were cancelled and 46 were delayed.

On Tuesday July 5th, EasyJet’s chief operating officer Peter Bellew resigned, allegedly “to pursue other business opportunities”, news which certainly suggests that all is not well at the Luton-headquartered airline.

You can also use EasyJet’s flight tracker here to find out if your flight is going ahead

For those of you who have booked a Ryanair or Easyjet flight to and/or from Spain for July, or those who are considering doing so, the following is a breakdown of all the scheduled strike days by cabin crew for both airlines for the coming weeks.

Ryanair strike days 

Tuesday July 12th

Wednesday July 13th

Thursday July 14th

Friday July 15th

Monday July 18th

Tuesday July 19th

Wednesday July 20th

Thursday July 21st

Monday July 25th

Tuesday July 26th

Wednesday July 27th

Thursday July 28th

Easyjet strike days

Friday July 15th

Saturday July 16th

Sunday July 17th

Friday July 29th

Saturday July 30th

Sunday July 31st

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