Why Are Flights Still Operating To The USA?

A question I’ve seen asked a few times now is: If nearly all countries are closed to the USA, how come so many aircraft are still flying there?

The simple answer is that it’s the people that the borders are closed to, not the flights.

Say you’re an American citizen. You can still freely come to the UK and travel back to the USA. On a similar note, if you’re an American citizen living in the UK and want to head back to the USA to be with family. That’s fine too. Hence why the airlines are still selling tickets to the USA.

What wouldn’t be allowed though is if I boarded a flight to, say, Los Angeles this weekend. As I have a British passport and started my journey after the restrictions were put in place, the chances are I’d be turned back on arrival.

I don’t have any experience of boarding a flight to the USA during this time, but I do have experience of flying through a UK airport recently. There were zero checks at Heathrow asking where I had come from. I assume it would be the same when leaving the country to head to a banned country. But I don’t know.

Add to this, there is a bit of shuffling around regarding arrival airports in the USA too. Only certain airports are cleared to handle incoming flights from Europe:

Designated Airports For European Arrivals

  • Boston-Logan International Airport (BOS), Massachusetts
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), Illinois
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Texas
  • Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), Michigan
  • Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Hawaii
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Georgia
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York
  • Los Angeles International Airport, (LAX), California
  • Miami International Airport (MIA), Florida
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), New Jersey
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO), California
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), Washington
  • Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD), Virginia

The reality is that most airlines will cancel their flights between the UK and the USA. However, Norwegian have sent their scheduled flights to both Orlando and Tampa to Miami instead.

Norwegian flights to the USA
Norwegian flights to the USA

Therefore still providing a service whilst keeping within the rules. And as those flights are technically still operating, they will avoid any penalties regarding compensation. Strangely though, the flights Norwegian operate between London, Los Angeles, New York JFK and Boston have been cancelled.

As far as other airlines go, for the most part, they have cancelled their flights. Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have cancelled their flights to Orlando. Likewise, American Airlines have suspended their flights between London Heathrow and Philadelphia. As neither Orlando, nor Philadelphia are on the approved airports list.

However, American are still flying between London and Dallas. The British Airways flight between London and Miami has also departed today. The same goes for Virgin Atlantic’s flight between London and Atlanta.

The list goes on. But in general, flights between London, and other European airports for that matter and the US airports listed above are still operating for the time being. Although its more than likely that once the US nationals overseas have returned to the USA, these flights will be grounded.

I’m well aware that the information here may be obvious to most. But as mentioned at the outset, I’ve seen a few questions raised as to why flights are still operating, despite the restrictions.

The Latest USA Arrival Information Can Be Found Here:


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