Your ski holiday to the USA
Please find below our simple step-by-step guide to help prepare you for your Ski Independence holiday to the USA. Each part of your journey to the USA is described in order to help you have a successful ski holiday. Please take time to read this Essential Travel guide thoroughly, as it contains important details about your arrangements.
There are several items to check, complete and return, and there are several mandatory travel requirements for travel to the USA.
New safety measures may be in place to protect you and those around you. It will be your responsibility to acquaint yourself with all relevant travel information, including applicable health risks in the context of your itinerary and adhere to any new safety measures during your holiday. These may be in place at any time during your holiday, for example at airports, on-board aircraft, at train stations, on trains, in a transfer vehicle, at your hotel, at an attraction or during an excursion. You may be required to wear a mask, use hand sanitiser and comply with social distancing or any local measures required.
Step 1 – Your Travel Documents
You’ll receive a comprehensive pack of Travel Documents from us by 1st Class post around two weeks prior to departure. Please take the time to check your travel documents and inform us immediately if you think anything is missing or incorrect.
Most of our Travel Document packages will include a personalised letter detailing your flight reference number together with your airline’s baggage allowance, seating policy, and online check-in instructions, plus your resort representative contact(s), a bespoke travel itinerary, vouchers for all ski essentials (and car rental if booked) and baggage tags. Other items might also include: specific driving instructions and train tickets.
Step 2 – Mandatory essentials > What you must have
There are five essential items you must have in place before you can travel to the USA:
- Passport > British Citizens need a valid full 10 year passport that should be valid for the duration of your stay (we recommend that you have at least 3 months validity on your passport). If you were born in the USA, but are travelling on a non- US passport, then you must carry a ‘Loss of Nationality letter’. If you are travelling to the USA with any children who do not have the same family name, or as a single parent with your children, you must carry a letter confirming your right to be travelling with the child or children.
- Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) > All passengers travelling to the USA must apply online for authority to travel. You must have ESTA travel authorisation prior to departing for the USA. To get ESTA travel authorisation please complete the online form at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov where a decision will normally be given within seconds. The US Department of Homeland Security recommends that applications be submitted no less than 72 hours prior to travel. ESTA is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors for travel to the United States. There is now a fee payable for this service. The information required for ESTA includes biographical data, such as name, date of birth and passport information, and a series of ‘yes/no’ questions regarding communicable diseases, arrests and convictions, and past history of visa refusal, amongst others. Approved ESTA travel authorisations are valid for two years and allow for multiple trips to the USA. However, a new ESTA authorisation will have to be obtained if an individual has a new passport within the two-year period or if any answers to the yes/no questions on the ESTA application form change within this period. You cannot travel to the USA without prior ESTA travel authorisation. Please remember that it is your personal responsibility to ensure you have ESTA travel authorisation in place at least 72 hours prior to travel. Without ESTA travel authorisation, you may be refused entry to the USA.
- Advance Passenger Information (APIS) > All airlines are required to adhere to the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS), which requires the collection of specific information from every passenger travelling to the USA. This information is required for the purposes of ensuring aviation safety and security. Travellers must supply Advance Passenger Information prior to, or at time of check-in, or they will be unable to travel. It is also important that the information is accurate so that you do not have any delay when you pass through immigration on arrival. Your ESTA information must match your APIS information. >> Submit your APIS information here
- Vaccinations > All travellers 18+yrs and older will need to be fully vaccinated with any combination of the four approved vaccines in the USA: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca (two dose series required), and Janssen/Johnson&Johnson (single dose required). Currently, the USA is accepting mixed dosing of any of the approved vaccines. Full vaccination according to the above standards must be completed at least 14 days prior to travel. You must travel with proof of vaccination in digital or paper format – vaccination certificate with QR code1 (eg: NHS COVID Pass). Unvaccinated children aged 17 years and under are permitted to enter the USA with their fully vaccinated parent(s) and/or guardian(s), but must take a viral test 3-5 days after arrival into the USA
- Prior to departure Covid19 Viral test > As of 12th June 2022, there is no longer a requirement to have a pre-departure Covid19 test for travel to the USA.
Download the VeriFLY app (optional) > For a quicker and easier journey you can upload your relevant Covid19 travel documents into the VeriFLY App before you check-in online and arrive at the airport. The app will check that you meet the US requirements and will verify your documents. Valid for British Airways passengers only.
Important information for non-British citizens > It is your responsibility to ensure that you comply with the USA entry requirements. If you are not a British citizen or are unsure about the visa requirements, for further information contact the United States of America Consulate Visa department on 0906 820 0290 without delay. Ski Independence cannot answer questions or advise on any immigration issues.
Step 3 – Prepare for travel to the USA > Things to consider
We offer a full range of airport hotels, parking and lounges you can book at all of our UK departure airports. We also have a comprehensive selection of discounted ski essentials (ski lift tickets, snow school lessons and equipment rentals) and activities in all of our featured USA resorts. If you haven’t pre-purchased these items and wish to do so prior to departure, please call our Ski Specialists on 0131 243 8097 for current pricing and availability.
Airport hotels, parking, lounges and ski essentials > If you’ve already pre-purchased these items through Ski Independence then a voucher for each item will be included in your Travel Documents package. Each voucher contains specific redemption instructions.
Travel insurance > Please ensure you have comprehensive winter sports insurance cover for the USA. If you need cover we can introduce you to our broker – MPI Brokers. Their policy meets our booking conditions on insurance. MPI Brokers can be contacted on 0845 180 0055 or click here
Money > Credit cards are king in the USA. We also recommend you take a small amount of low denomination notes in local currency for tips. As an extra security measure you may want to inform your card issuer of your travel arrangements.
Step 4 – Baggage allowances and seating policies
Your personalised letter included in your Travel Document package details your airline’s specific baggage allowance and seating policies.
- For full information on our British Airways flights please click here
- For full information on our United Airlines flights please click here
Step 5 – Online airline check-in for your flight to the USA
Online check-in for all airlines opens 24 hours prior to your scheduled flight departure. Your personalised letter details your airline reference(s) and clear instructions on how to check in online. Please see Step 2 for all mandatory travel items you will need in place before checking in online.
Step 6 – Which airport terminal?
Your personalised letter details your airport departure terminal. Due to increased security procedures for all flights it is essential that you arrive at the airport at least 2 hours prior to the scheduled departure time that appears on your Holiday Itinerary enclosed with your Travel Documents. On arrival at the relevant airport terminal, please proceed to the appropriate airline check-in desk to finalise the check-in process and to drop your baggage, then proceed through airport security and finally make way to your departure gate.
Step 7 – Flying to the USA
Expect a flight duration from London to Denver of around 9hrs55mins, Salt Lake City of around 10hrs35mins, Boston 7hrs40mins, San Francisco and Los Angeles 11hrs20mins. Journeys to Aspen, Jackson Hole, Bozeman, Bois, Mammoth, Reno and Hayden vary as they involve a further flight within the USA. All British Citizens will be issued with the appropriate USA Customs Declaration forms either at check-in or on board the aircraft.
Boston is GMT -5 hours, Denver, Aspen, Hayden, Salt Lake City, Jackson Hole and Bozeman are GMT -7 hours, and Los Angeles, Reno and San Francisco are all GMT -8 hours.
Step 8 – Arriving in the USA > Immigration and Customs
On arrival in the USA you will be required to pass through US Immigration and Customs at your first point of entry. US Immigration require all visitors to have their index fingers scanned and a photo taken to verify their identity. Ensure that you have your passport ready and your Customs Declaration form completed. You will need to have proof of vaccination and proof of a negative pre-travel Covid19 PCR test (see Step 2 above). On clearing Immigration, reclaim your baggage from the relevant baggage carousel (ski and board bags usually arrive at the outsize baggage counter), and then proceed through US Customs (you will need to hand over your completed Customs Declaration form at this point).
Step 9 – Arriving in the USA > Connecting flights
If you are connecting to another flight, please follow the instructions of the airline agents – there is normally a ‘connecting passengers’ desk for dropping baggage at. Connecting passengers should then proceed to the gate for their flight.
Step 10 – Arriving in the USA > Getting to resort
If this is your final flight destination, please follow the instructions below for airport to resort transfers and self-drive car rentals:
Resort transfers > for clients with resort transfers, please follow the specific instructions on your Holiday Itinerary enclosed with your Travel Documents.
Downtown Denver rail link > For clients travelling to downtown Denver on the RTD University of Colorado A Line to Union Station, follow signs for ‘Transit centre’ = south exit on Level 5, and take the elevator down to Level 1 to access the new airport rail station. Clients then buy a one-way ticket to Union Station (cost is $9.00 pp each way including all taxes) – there’s a ticket machine next to the platform. Trains are every 15 mins, there is luggage space, and the journey to Union Station in downtown Denver is 37 mins (7 stops).
Self-drive car rental > please continue through to ‘Arrivals’ and then follow the signs for Car Rental (sometimes this will require a shuttle bus to take you to the depot – your voucher and Holiday Itinerary will detail specific instructions), then check in at the Alamo desk (you will need your voucher enclosed with your Travel Documents + a valid full UK driving licence + a credit card in the lead driver’s name). All of our self-drive car rental packages come with full driving instructions enclosed with your Travel Documents.
For full information on our self-drive car rental with Alamo please click here
Step 11 – Arrival in resort > Check in to your accommodation
Your Holiday Itinerary details your accommodation arrangements. On it you will find the hotel name, address, contact number, your room or unit type description and board basis, as well as your hotel confirmation number and any special instructions. Check-in usually starts around 4pm for most properties. You will usually need to leave a credit card imprint as a security deposit.
Step 12 – Help & assistance en-route and in resort
Emergency contact > We have a senior manager on 24 hour call in the UK who can be contacted during normal UK office hours on +44 131 243 8097, including Saturdays (our office is closed on Sundays). In the event of a genuine emergency out with normal UK office hours, they can be contacted on +44 7788 711373.
Lost baggage > If your baggage is lost en-route – and it does occasionally happen – then before leaving the baggage reclaim area you must go to the airline desk and complete a report. You will be given a copy of the report and a contact procedure to follow to check on the status of your baggage. The airline will normally arrange to deliver the lost items to your holiday accommodation as soon as possible. The airline will normally agree to pay for the hire of ski equipment and clothing until yours is returned. They will also provide funds to purchase essential items such as toiletries. Claims for loss of holiday time and inconvenience will not be considered as the airlines’ Conditions of Carriage prevent such claims. Our resort representatives will help wherever they can with lost baggage tracing, but please bear in mind that they will only have access to the same information as you have yourself. If baggage is damaged ‘in transit’ by the airline or transfer company, you must report it to the supplier immediately and obtain a damage report. Insurers will expect you to pursue a claim against the airline or transfer company before they will admit a claim against your travel insurance
Delays en-route > If you experience a delay, miss a connecting flight or experience anything that you feel may affect your journey, it is extremely important that you contact us immediately - this will allow us to alter any onwards transfer arrangements on your behalf and to forewarn your resort accommodation supplier. Be warned - hoteliers may cancel your reservation if you do not turn up on the correct day.
Loss or theft > If you lose or have possessions stolen, you will require a Police report, and if possible, a report from the hotel or condominium to help substantiate your claim. If personal ski equipment is so badly damaged that you are not bringing it home, you should obtain a report from our resort representatives otherwise your claim could be refused. If you lose, or have money in cash or valuables stolen, you will be expected to produce evidence of purchase or the source of the funds. Insurance companies are increasingly reluctant to pay claims where clients have not taken care of their own possessions. Please therefore use the safe or secure deposit facilities at hotels where provided, lock cars and do not carry unnecessary valuables or amounts of cash. Failure to follow these procedures could invalidate your claim.
Hospitalisation and medical issues > If you have to be admitted to hospital, please inform us immediately – we are here to help and assist you in any way we can. If you have to be admitted to hospital, you or a friend must immediately contact the emergency number given on your policy. There is a doctor on duty 24 hours a day in the UK who will talk to the doctor who is providing treatment and agree to the treatment, and if necessary, the arrangements for anyone injured to be repatriated. If due to the circumstances of the emergency you cannot make immediate contact, you or a friend must do so at the very first opportunity. Keep all receipts, as these will be required to make a claim when you return home.
Problem solving > the current EC Package Travel Regulations require clients to take steps to minimise any claims by giving us the opportunity to correct any problem as soon as possible. Should you be unhappy with your arrangements, or have any problems during your stay, you have the responsibility to report the matter to the supplier, the hotel or condo management without delay. If having tried to resolve the problem locally you are still unhappy, please call us on +44 131 243 8097, or e-mail us at [email protected]
Step 13 – Returning home
Covid-19 mandatory travel requirements for entry to the UK
From 18th March 2022 there is no longer a requirement to complete a passenger locator form prior to travel back to the UK.
Online check-in for all airlines opens 24 hours prior to your scheduled flight departure. Your personalised letter details your airline reference(s) and clear instructions on how to check in online. Please see Step 2 for all other mandatory travel items you will need in place before checking in online.
Check out time for most properties in the USA is around 10am. Late checkouts can sometimes be arranged locally – please see your hotel front desk.
Our resort representatives will have re-confirmed your resort to airport transfer pickup time (and location) to you. Please be ready at least 15 minutes prior to your scheduled pickup time.
Due to increased security procedures for all flights it is essential that you arrive at the airport at least 2 hours prior to the scheduled departure time that appears on your Holiday Itinerary. On arrival at the relevant airport terminal, please proceed to the appropriate airline check-in desk to finalise the check-in process and to drop your baggage, then proceed through airport security and finally make way to your departure gate.
Step 14 – Feedback
We hope you have a fantastic holiday with Ski Independence. Should you have any questions prior to your departure or any feedback you’d like to give us, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0131 243 8097 or email [email protected]
Call on of our Ski Specialists on 0131 243 8097 for further information and advice