Excited passengers board the first flight from Heathrow to the US.

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Thousands of excited passengers flocked to Heathrow Airport on Monday for the first flights to the United States from London. since the Biden Administration lifted the travel ban about international visitors.

They were greeted by dozens of airline staff members who smiled and waved American flags as they led guests to designated areas for check-in and security checks.

Starting Monday, foreign travelers can enter the United States if they can show proof of complete vaccination and a negative Covid-19 test taken within three days prior to departure. Unvaccinated Americans and children under the age of 18 are exempt from the requirement, but must take a test within one day of travel.

“New York honey, here we go,” yelled a passenger as he high-five with a Virgin Atlantic staff member who was dressed as Elvis Presley. “God bless America,” yelled another.

Long lines quickly formed at check-in counters as passengers fumbled for their phones and printed documents, preparing the required paperwork.

“My God, I feel so nervous,” said Bernadette Sumners, 56, of Stratford-on-Avon, England, who was taking her first flight since the beginning of the pandemic to visit her daughter in Oregon and her son in New York. York.

“There are so many things to remember and organize,” he said as he sat on a bench in the departures terminal, updating his email every few minutes while waiting for the negative Covid-19 test result. “It is very stressful, but I know it will be worth it when I see my children and meet my grandchildren,” she said, her eyes filling with tears.

Others were surprised by how organized and fast the process was. “I arrived four hours early to give myself a good margin for error, but the whole process is super easy and efficient,” said Noah Cunningham, a 46-year-old screenwriter from London who was traveling to New York on business.

“When governments impose these travel restrictions, they act as if people are only traveling for pleasure, but this ban has been a killer for business,” he said. “I didn’t want to waste a day. As soon as the lifting of the ban was announced, I booked my ticket. “

A group of three women waited in line to check in for their flight to New York with piles of luggage adorned with American flags. “Most of these bags are empty,” said Julia Jacobs, a 39-year-old real estate agent. “We are going to the Big Apple for some Christmas shopping and Christmas cheer. It’s been such a depressing two years that we need to see those bright lights and do some retail therapy. “

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