In an effort to showcase how international travel is still accessible and realistic for essential travelers, Delta, in partnership with fellow SkyTeam alliance member KLM, flew its first “Covid-free” flight from Atlanta (ATL) to Amsterdam (AMS) in December. Now, the route is continuously flown throughout the week for essential travelers.
The travel route resulted as a means for essential travelers—those traveling for work, health, and education-related reasons—to be exempt from quarantine upon entry into the Netherlands. Prior to the implementation of Covid-free flights, travelers were required to quarantine in the Netherlands for 10 days, regardless of a negative Covid test or a lack of Covid symptoms.
In order to fly the route, however, travelers must undergo a relatively extensive testing process to board a Covid-free flight.
The initiative requires passengers to obtain a negative Covid Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test five days before travel, as well as a negative rapid test at Atlanta Airport prior to boarding. Upon arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, a second PCR test will be administered. All tests administered in airports are included in travelers’ ticket prices.
The Netherlands is not the only Covid-free flight in operation, however. Delta, the Aeroporti di Roma and Atlanta Airport have partnered in a similar effort to allow quarantine-free entry into Italy. Similarly, the route is limited to essential travels, European Union citizens, and Italian citizens.
In addition to Covid-free flights, Delta implemented ‘Delta Clean’ in 2020, the airline’s sanitation program. Through Delta Clean, the airline has incorporated over 100 measures to ensure safety and cleanliness throughout the travel process. Some of the most notable changes to sanitation protocol include new hospital-grade air filters within cabins, as well as a contact tracing initiative and electrostatic spraying prior to flights.
In order to operate the flight with frequency and still maintain sanitation standards, Delta operates the flight on Tuesdays and Fridays, and KLM operates on Mondays and Wednesdays.