Travel | November 27, 2020 12:37 pm

Delta Debuting Quarantine-Free Flights Between Atlanta and Rome

The program will begin on December 19

A Delta Airlines plane is seen at the gate at Salt Lake City International Airport.
DANIEL SLIM/AFP via Getty Images

Air travel during the pandemic — or, really, almost any long-distance travel during the pandemic — is a process that likely involves spending some time in quarantine, which can in turn make traveling impractical. A new test program from Delta Airlines is set to change all of that, however.

Lonely Planet reports on plans for a new test program, beginning December 19, for flights between Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Rome-Fiumicino International Airport. Delta’s own announcement of the program notes that these tests “will exempt from quarantine on arrival in Italy all U.S. citizens permitted to travel to Italy for essential reasons, such as for work, health and education, as well as all European Union and Italian citizens.”

Delta developed this program with input from the Mayo Clinic, whose Chief Value Officer Henry Ting said that “we can predict that the risk of COVID-19 infection — on a flight that is 60 percent full — should be nearly one in a million.”

Travelers wishing to fly to Rome on one of these flights will need to go through a number of tests: first, a Polymerase Chain Reaction test taken within 72 hours of the flight. Travelers will have rapid tests in the airports in both Atlanta and Rome as well; they will also have a rapid test in Rome before flying back to Atlanta.

This program won’t necessarily spark a massive wave of transatlantic travel; as mentioned earlier, this program will apply to US citizens who can travel to Italy for essential reasons, as well as to Italian and EU citizens. But it does offer a sense of how airlines are adapting to the pandemic.