In March, the US closed its borders to all non-essential travel from abroad, including Switzerland. The ban was originally supposed to be in place for 30 days, but it was since renewed for an undetermined period by President Donald Trump.
Currently and until further notice, these people are the only ones allowed to enter the country, according the US Embassy in Switzerland:
• US citizens
• Lawful permanent residents (LPR) of the United States
• Children of a US citizen or LPR
• Spouses of US citizens and LPRs
• Parents or legal guardians of unmarried US citizen or LPR children under 21 years of age
• Foreign government officials and their immediate family members on official travel
So unless you fit into any of these categories, you won’t be able to enter the country for the time being.
If you do qualify, there are several flights that connect Zurich and Geneva with US airports: four flights a week to New York (JFK), three flights to Newark (NJ), and twice a week to Chicago.
Starting in July, flights to Las Vegas and Tampa, Florida are also planned.
While you can book these flights on the SWISS website, keep in mind that they could be operated by sister airlines Edelweiss, United, or Lufthansa.
Also keep in mind that currently any aircraft coming from abroad is authorised to land at only 13 US airports, where, according to the Department of Homeland Security, “incoming travellers first pass through standard customs processing”, then proceed to “enhanced entry screening,” where passengers would be asked to self-report their medical history and current health condition; they also may be asked to self-quarantine.
These are the approved airports for international 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
All this sounds onerous and quite complex.
But wait, there could possibly be some good news on the horizon:
At a press conference on June 2nd, President Trump hinted that Europeans from countries with low rates of infections – which includes Switzerland – may soon be permitted to travel to the United States.
On the other hand, Dr Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said in an interview with a UK newspaper that opening up America to foreign travel could still be months away, and may not come until a coronavirus vaccine is available.
“Looking at what’s going on with the infection rate, I think it’s more likely measured in months rather than weeks”, he said.
However, according to reports in the US media, Fauci and Trump don’t see eye to eye on issues relating to Covid-19. And the President is known for making unilateral decisions, so it is possible that his wish to re-open the country to international travel in the near future will prevail.
And there’s more good news.
If you are eligible to enter the US right now, you will find reasonable ticket prices.
For instance, a fare to and from Zurich and New York with the departure on June 29th and return on July 6th costs 679 francs. A flight to Chicago on the same days is slightly more expensive at 769 francs, but still reasonable for a long-haul flight.
However, keep in mind that when the US borders re-open to foreign tourists, prices of tickets will likely soar, as airlines will try to recoup the losses they suffered during the pandemic.