New flights between the US and Spain’s islands: What you need to know

As United Airlines prepares to launch new direct flights between New York's Newark airport and Mallorca and Tenerife, The Local breaks down the routes, prices and other important details.

New flights between the US and Spain's islands: What you need to know
New Yorkers will soon be able to fly directly to visit the highest peak in Spain, Mount Teide, located on the Canary island of Tenerife. Photo: Gustavo A. Pérez/Unsplash

North American airline United Airlines has announced new flight routes to Spanish destinations not previously covered by any other American airlines.

United will now fly from New York (Newark) to Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands and Tenerife in the Canary Islands as part of a broader transatlantic expansion that includes Portugal and Norway. 

It is hoped the new flight routes will increase American tourism in the Spanish island destinations, with estimates pointing to tens of thousands of American visitors to the two archipelagos in 2022.

Likewise, people living in the Canaries and the Balearics will be able to enjoy direct flights to the Big Apple without having to fly to mainland Spain. Until now, most flights from the US to Spain have been to either Madrid or Barcelona.

Here’s a closer look at the routes, prices and the reasons why these flights will soon be launched.

Palma de Mallorca

The popular Balearic beach getaway will now be covered by three weekly flights between New York/Newark and Palma de Mallorca, with the new route operational from June 2022. 

This will be the only route between the US and Mallorca and joins longstanding routes to Madrid and Barcelona. It is hoped it will attract as many as 10,000 American travellers to Mallorca by the end of 2022.

There are connecting flights and ferries between Mallorca and mainland Spain, as well as with the other Balearic Islands of Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera.

The beautiful cathedral of Palma de Mallorca. Photo: Yves Alarie/Unsplash


American travellers can now also enjoy Spain’s Canary Islands with United’s new direct route from New York/Newark to Tenerife South Reina Sofía airport.

As with their new flights to Mallorca, the expansion makes United the only American airline to fly direct between the Canary Islands and North America, and from June 2022 three weekly flights will also be available.

There are plenty of flights connecting Tenerife and mainland Spain (two to three hours long as the archipelago is far away), as well as flights and ferries to the other Canaries: Gran Canaria, La Palma, La Gomera, El Hierro, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote. 

Tenerife’s rugged northern coastline is a world apart from the busy tourism resorts in the south of the island. Photo: María Lupin/Unsplash


The New York-Tenerife route will start in June with a promotional offer of €348 for a round trip ticket, according to the United Airlines sales team in Spain, but as the route ramps up flights throughout June it seems there are some tickets early in the month for around $800 (€755), but later in the summer season prices crack $1000 (€944) for the Newark-Tenerife round trip .

To Mallorca, average prices are believed to be around €519, one way, but vary between single and round trips, and on the class of cabin. It is believed first class tickets will be sold for around €5,000 for a round trip, and according to the United website basic economy flights throughout the summer season start from around $1,300 (€1288).

According to the United Airlines website, flights from Palma de Mallorca to Newark start from €424.

Change of model

As The Local has reported recently, the expansion comes amid broader expansion not only on the part of United, but also a recalibration of the Spanish islands tourism model and a move away from cheaper, alcohol-based tourism to a more upmarket, sustainable model. Director of Tourism of the Cabildo de Tenerife, Laura Castro, explained that “our strategy of diversification of markets in the case of the North American profile will allow us to attract travellers with medium-high purchasing power, for which the island has high standard infrastructures that live up to their expectations.”

READ MORE: The new alcohol rules for tourists in Spain’s Balearic Islands 

In addition to the promotional offers and pivot away from the traditional booze holiday destination image, the Fundació Mallorca Turisme is to invite American journalists and travel agencies from the states closest to Newark airport on ‘familiarisation trips’ in order for them to better be able to advertise Mallorca. 

Similarly, Mallorca’s tourism bosses will also run a series of ‘roads shows’ in the U.S. to educate and entice American travel agents working on the east coast “to achieve greater visibility of this important initiative in the main urban enclaves.”

Mallorca as a hub airport

Anyone who has come across Americans ‘going to Europe’ knows they often make the most of the long journeys by exploring several countries or cities during one trip. Mallorca’s tourism bosses certainly hope so, and are intending for the island’s Sant Joan airport to become a ‘hub’ airport that will enable American travellers to arrive in Europe and use the island as a pitstop en-route to other European destinations.

Minister for Tourism, Andreu Serra, believes this could be beneficial to Mallorca “because when the American tourist travels to Europe [they] usually travel to other cities, which is why they will come to Palma and from here they can travel to Rome, Paris, Berlin and London to extend their stay in Europe.”

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TRAVEL: Spain extends ban on unvaccinated non-EU tourists

Britons, Americans and other non-EU/Schengen travellers who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered from Covid-19 will not be able to visit Spain for tourism for at least another month, Spanish authorities have confirmed.

TRAVEL: Spain extends ban on unvaccinated non-EU tourists

The Spanish government has again extended temporary restrictions for non-essential travel (including tourism) from most third countries for another month, until June 15th 2022.

That means that non-EU/Schengen adults who reside outside of the EU and who haven’t been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or recovered from the illness in the past six months cannot go on holiday to Spain during the next month. 

Therefore, Spain continues to not accept negative Covid-19 tests from British, American, Canadian, Indian or other third-country nationals who are neither vaccinated nor recently recovered. 

There had been hopes that the shorter two-week extension to the ban on non-essential travel issued on April 30th, as well as talk of the “orderly and progressive reopening” of the country’s borders, would mean that unvaccinated third country nationals would be allowed into Spain in May.

But in the end, Saturday May 14th’s state bulletin confirmed that Spain will keep the same measures in place for another 31 days, stating that they “will eventually be modified to respond to a change of circumstances or to new recommendations in the context of the European Union”.

Spain’s ban on unvaccinated non-EU travellers is arguably the last major Covid-19 restriction in place in the country, and other EU countries such as Sweden, Poland, Denmark, Czech Republic and Ireland are allowing unvaccinated tourists in.

This latest announcement by the Spanish government marks the umpteenth extension to non-essential travel from outside of the EU/Schengen area over the past two years of the pandemic, the previous one was due to expire on May 15th. 

But perhaps this extension is the most surprising, as the Spanish health ministry has modified its rulebook to treat Covid-19 like the flu and the country wants to recover the tourism numbers it had pre-pandemic.

The ban affects unvaccinated British tourists in particular, as the UK is still the biggest tourism market for Spain, but Britons’ non-EU status means they have to follow the same Covid-19 travel rules as other third-country nationals.

Vaccinated or recovered third-country travellers

Those who were fully vaccinated against Covid-19 more than two weeks prior to travel to Spain will need to show a valid vaccination certificate with an EMA or WHO approved vaccine.

If their initial vaccination treatment was completed more than 9 months ago (270 days), they’ll need to show they’ve had a Covid-19 booster shot. 

As for non-EU/Schengen travellers who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months, they will need to show a recovery certificate to prove this

According to Spain’s Health Ministry, recovery certificates accepted as valid are those “issued at least 11 days after the first positive NAAT or RAT, and up to a maximum of 180 days after the date of sampling”, as well as being issued by the relevant authorities.


In early February, Spanish authorities also decided to start allowing unvaccinated non-EU/Schengen teenagers aged 12 to 17 to visit Spain for tourism if they provided a negative PCR.

Spain continues to have a small list of low-risk third countries whose travellers visiting Spain for non-essential reasons can enter without having to present proof of Covid-19 testing, recovery or vaccination. 

This is updated weekly and can be checked here by clicking on the PDF under “risk and high risk countries/areas”. 

READ ALSO: Can I travel to my second home in Spain if I’m not vaccinated?

If you’re not vaccinated or recovered, the exceptions for travel to Spain from third countries that fall under the non-essential travel restrictions are:

  • You are a resident in the EU or Schengen country.
  • You have a visa for a long duration stay in an EU or Schengen country.
  • You work in transport, such as airline staff or are in a maritime profession.
  • You work in diplomatic, consular, international organisations, military or civil protection or are a member of a humanitarian organisation.
  • You have a student visa for a country in the EU or Schengen zone.
  • You are a highly qualified worker or athlete whose work cannot be postponed or carried out remotely.
  • You are travelling for duly accredited imperative family reasons.
  • You are allowed entry due to force majeure or on humanitarian grounds.
  • And as mentioned earlier in the article, if you have a vaccination certificate that Spain’s Ministry of Health recognises, as well as for any accompanying minors (unless they’re under 12 years of age).

READ ALSO: When do I need to fill out Spain’s Covid health control form for travel?