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One of the United States of America's dominant domestic and international carriers, United Airlines, is determined to bounce back after pandemic restrictions. The airline has recently introduced a host of new routes to its portfolio, including direct flights to Johannesburg.
Image by Dirk Daniel Mann from Pixabay
United Airlines is among the first to capitalise on vaccine optimism, by introducing new routes across the globe. The airline has already commenced with 400 extra daily flights in the Northern Hemisphere for this summer and now it’s looking to Africa for more routes.
The global pandemic has had a devastating effect on the travel industry as a whole, but it's been especially hard for the airlines. While this is bad news for the airline industry, it's good news for travellers...
United Airlines first dipped its toes into unexplored African markets in 2019, with direct flights to Cape Town from New York. The pandemic put paid to this as well as their second attempt in 2020, but the airline’s now venturing back, driven by the prospect of ‘herd immunity’.
Despite an ongoing travel ban – which prohibits South Africans from entering the US without government approval, United is confident that it can service this route due to the growing number of vaccinated individuals in both countries.
Vaccinated Americans can now visit South Africa without having to comply with quarantine on their return, South Africans wanting to travel to the US must meet several criteria in order to travel.
As the country’s vaccination protocols continue to roll out, these are bound to lessen and United Airlines will be waiting on the landing strip when that day comes.
Affordable travel to and from South Africa
The first of these pioneering flights took off on 3 June at an affordable rate of $792, which equates to around R11,000, making this one of the most affordable US flights ever offered.
Local travellers, resident outside the hub of Gauteng as well as US citizens exploring further afield, can already benefit from cheap domestic flights to Johannesburg on local SA airlines. So, this opens up new affordable avenues of exploration for South Africans eager for a taste of the Big Apple as well as US travellers wanting to tick the Big Five off their bucket list.
Currently, all flights to Johannesburg depart from Newark Liberty International Airport. The first flights depart on 3 June from the USA, and 5 June from South Africa. Passengers will enjoy all the luxuries of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner – which seats 280 travellers, on both inbound and outbound trips.
Apart from abundant leisure travel opportunities, United’s new flights boost the already strong business ties between the USA and South Africa and help bring friends and family closer once again. That is, once the US starts to loosen its ongoing travel restrictions.
At the moment, passengers who’ve been fully vaccinated with the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccines may enter the USA, provided they can present a negative Covid-19 test less than three days old.
They’ll also need to wait at least two weeks after their last shot before boarding flights. Most vaccinated passengers who meet these criteria won’t need to self-quarantine on arrival in the USA.
Future flights to Johannesburg and beyond
As the coronavirus pandemic presents wave after wave of infections, adaptation has become the norm across affected industries. So, it’s heartening to see United Airlines taking positive steps to encourage a semblance of normality early on with direct flights to Johannesburg.
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