Heathrow: Thousands to reunite with loved ones in America after border reopens

Video report by ITV News Meridian's James Davies

There were emotional scenes at Heathrow on Monday morning (8 November) as thousands of people jetted off for long-awaited reunions with family and friends in America.

It has been 602 days since the US shut down its border to UK nationals but it finally reopened to international tourists.

To celebrate, rival airlines British Airways and Virgin Atlantic staged an historic simultaneous take-off from the airport's two runways.

Long queues formed at Terminal 3 as eager travellers checked in to their flights.

One passenger couldn't wait to get to the US to see her daughter.

She said: "There's been 678 days since I've seen my daughter, who lives in Sanger in Texas.

"She emigrated there just under three years ago and we always thought it was just 10 hours apart but it's been two years apart. I'm going over to see her and it's her birthday today, so what a good day."

Meanwhile Josh Elderfield was off to visit his girlfriend for the first time in two years.

He said: "It's been a long time coming obviously and I had know idea it was going to be this long.

"I really had so much hope last year that it was going to be a matter of months and of course it's been nearly two years. I'm very excited.

"I've not even met her family or friends and now I finally get to and it's going to be a great feeling when I land."

Performers entertain passengers at London Heathrow Airport’s T3 as the US reopens its borders to UK visitors Credit: Steve Parsons/PA

In early 2020, the coronavirus pandemic led to then-president Donald Trump to ban visitors to the US from dozens of countries, including the UK, Ireland, the 26 Schengen nations in Europe, China, India and South Africa.

A total of 3,688 flights are scheduled to operate between the countries this month, according to travel data firm Cirium.

That is up 21% compared with October, but remains 49% down on the pre-pandemic levels of November 2019.

Airlines says the lifting of the travel ban is vital for the UK's airline industry.

Bob Schumacher, Director UK, Ireland, Israel & Off-line Sales, United Airlines said: "It's important for the whole airline industry and for the airport which has been in the doldrums now, across this coronavirus period.

"This is a reawakening, a reopening and back to normal in a sense. Whilst it will take time to spool up, we're really in a better place."