British Airways flight BA001 became the airline’s first flight to depart for the US this morning, as the country lifted restrictions imposed on British travelers for more than 18 months.

The BA001, the flight number previously reserved for Concorde, departed Heathrow at 08:30 this morning in a synchronized take-off with Virgin Atlantic’s VS3 flight.

Both flights were bound for New York, JFK.

The lifting of US restrictions after more than 600 days means that fully vaccinated Britons are now able to travel freely between the two countries – something that has not happened since March 16th last year.

The changes have enabled British Airways to meaningfully re-start direct services to 17 US destinations.

UK ambassador to the United States, Dame Karen Pierce, said: “Today is an incredibly exciting and meaningful day for the UK-US relationship.

“We can all once again travel to each other’s countries to visit families, take holidays, and conduct transatlantic business.

“I am absolutely thrilled that safe and sustainable travel can fully resume between the UK and the United States.”

The airline is set to extend its services to 23 US airports this winter, with up to 246 flights a week, more than any other transatlantic carrier.

Flights to New York will increase from five to eight per day in December.

There will also be double-daily services to Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Dallas, Miami, and Toronto, as well as daily services to Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Atlanta, Denver, Houston, and Vancouver.

British Airways is operating 26 flights to the US today.

British Airways chief executive, Sean Doyle, who is traveling on the BA001, said: “Today is about celebrating the UK-US reopening of the transatlantic corridor after more than 600 days of separation, and it was fantastic to be able to mark this by synchronizing the take-off of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights for the first time ever.”

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