Now that the borders are reopening, I’m shopping flights to Italy, and here’s what I found.
Italy Set to Reopen
As one of many nations recently reopened to tourists from other countries, Italy (along with many other EU countries) is reopening in early June. They currently offer quarantine-free travel for Delta passengers from Atlanta to Milan that have a negative test result, have proof of vaccination, or have recovered in the last six months. The June flights would appear to follow the same criterion.
Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, has encouraged jumping ahead of the EU’s continent-wide reopening,
“Let us not wait until mid-June for the EU pass. In mid-May tourists can have the Italian pass,” Draghi said following a May 4 meeting of G20 tourism ministers, according to Reuters. He added, “The time has come to book your holidays in Italy.” – AFAR
What makes the Italian approach different from other countries are two things. First, it was the European epicenter for COVID-19 in its early phases. At one point the country posted a more than 11% mortality rate though that’s come down to just below 3% now. That would give Italy pause and suggest a more cautious approach rather than a more ambitious one.
Second, Italy appears as though it would not require proof of vaccination as the only method of acceptable entry as would the EU shift. That could make some with either hesitancy to get the vaccine, or those who simply have not had access, the ability to travel to Italy over other EU member states.
Most of Italy operates under a 10 pm to 5 am curfew with only outdoor venues operating.
Cheap Flights to Italy Are Hit or Miss
Due to this news, I conducted a survey from a few choice international airports to Italy for the next six months. I was surprised to see the wide variety of prices and travel periods. First, I shopped to Rome and Milan in coach from Pittsburgh. Prices were about normal and didn’t vary much over the next six months, with tickets selling for about $800 to Rome, about $20 cheaper to Milan.
From New York, coach was available immediately for about $500-600, then prices jump until later in the year in a traditionally low season around late October. Business class, however, runs as low as $1600. That’s a far cry from recent deals that were under $1000 roundtrip, but hasn’t yet fully returned to normal pricing.
From the west coast, San Francisco is cheaper than Los Angeles for both classes of service. As opposed to the east coast where flying to Milan is cheaper, the west coast features cheaper flights from both cities in both classes on flights to Rome.
US Re-Entry Procedures
The US has recently made changes domestically to its COVID protocol. Fully vaccinated people can mostly live as they once did before, with the exception of modes of transportation which require face masks. The CDC made the announcement suddenly following three studies it cited.
The current requirements (which are subject to change at any point without notice much like the above) require either an Antigen or PCR COVID-19 test (with negative result) within 72 hours of travel, or proof of recent recovery (within three months with a doctor’s note) to re-enter the United States.
I’m not sure if I will fly to Italy at the moment, not because I am concerned about COVID or the country’s ability to respond but rather because it’s probably not yet the Italy I remember. Many US carriers are increasing flights to specific European countries following the easing of restrictions and without doubt Italy will be among them. Upgrade space was available on both United and American Airlines, but without an extension of American’s systemwide upgrades, I might be a fool not to use them before July 31st.
What do you think? Are you considering Italy for summer, fall, or winter travel plans? Will you wait until others reopen?