U.S. Passengers Can Now Board Covid-Tested Flights to Italy

This article first appeard in The Local on May 15, 2021.  https://www.thelocal.it/20210515/latest-italy-to-reopen-to-us-tourists-on-covid-tested-flights/

U.S. airline Delta has announced it will allow “all customers” to board its Covid-tested flights from [May 16] after a change to the Italian travel restrictions.

Delta Air Lines has stated that its Covid-tested flights between the U.S. and Italy “will open to all customers effective May 16, following the Italian government lifting entry restrictions enabling American leisure travelers to visit the country for the first time in more than a year.”

The announcement came shortly after Italy’s Foreign Minister stated in a Facebook post on Friday evening that the country is ready to welcome U.S. tourists again – but only if they arrive on a Covid-tested flight.

“Travel for tourist purposes will be allowed from the USA, Canada and Japan, countries with which we’re strengthening Covid-free flights,” Di Maio wrote. “We are thus opening up to safe tourism from all the G7 states after more than a year. Until now, with Covid-free flights, it was not possible to come to Italy for tourism from non-EU countries. Now we’re reopening to this opportunity, which allows safe travel without quarantine.”

Taking these flights allows passengers to skip quarantine on arrival in Italy, provided they test negative for coronavirus at both ends of the journey.

Di Maio’s social media statement came amid a raft of changes to the Italian travel rules under two new Health Ministry ordinances on [May 14], and following more than a week of announcements by Italian ministers which have left hopeful U.S. tourists unsure of whether to book summer flights or cancel them.

While Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said the country wants to cut quarantine for vaccinated tourists from the United States, Canada and Japan, there has been no confirmation yet of when rules could be relaxed for any visitors other than those on the special Covid-tested flights.

Delta stated that American travelers will be able to board the Covid-tested flights regardless of vaccination status. The U.S. airline, which currently operates Covid-tested flights in partnership with Italian airline Alitalia, also confirmed that it plans to increase the number of flights from [May 16], and the number of routes from July.

Delta said its current Covid-tested services to Italy include:

  • Five-times weekly service between Atlanta (ATL) and Rome (FCO), increasing to daily on May 26.
  • Daily flights between New York-JFK and Milan (MXP).
  • Three-times weekly between New York-JFK and Rome (FCO), increasing to daily on July 1.

The carrier plans to launch three more of the special routes in time for summer, including two to Venice, which will soon equip its airport for the arrival of Covid-tested flights according to the Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza. 

Naples airport is also expected to be able to accept Covid-testing flights this summer, but Delta isn’t currently planning flights there.

American Airlines (AA) in April also announced Covid-tested flight options would be available to Italy this summer, but it remains to be seen if or when AA will update its policies to allow travelers to fly for tourism.

While Di Maio stated that Italy will also allow tourists to arrive on Covid-tested flights from Canada and Japan this summer, it is not yet known which airlines will be operating Covid-tested flights from these countries, or when they will begin.

How do Covid-tested flights work? Travelers must undergo a series of coronavirus tests to be allowed to enter Italy on the special flights. The steps are:

  • Provide a negative PCR test result from up to 72 hours before departure.
  • Take a rapid test at the airport just before boarding.
  • Take a second rapid test on arrival in Italy.
  • All passengers must also fill in a digital location form before boarding.
  • Passengers will then receive an email with a QR code, which must be given at the check-in desk to be allowed on the flight.
  • Also during check-in, you must provide a completed self-declaration form, which is specific to these Covid-tested flights.
  • If all the tests come back negative, you will be able to enter Italy and enjoy a quarantine-free trip. If you test positive on arrival, you will need to quarantine in Italy.
  • A pre-travel Covid-19 test is also required before returning to the U.S. regardless of vaccination status.