All that talk about a 51st state has always seemed pretty far-fetched - but in terms of travel links, the United States and Britain have never been closer.
Last month, on March 25, the hugely ambitious low-cost airline Norwegian launched a four-times-a-week direct service between London Gatwick and Chicago - and followed up this expansion of its route network two days later (March 27) by throwing in a thrice-weekly non-stop connection between Gatwick and Austin, the state capital of Texas.
Good news? Yes. Not least for the consumer, who has an increasing wealth of choices if they want to travel to the USA from Britain - especially if they include the equally enterprising Scandinavian rivals Wow Air and Icelandair, who have been merrily adding American routes to their schedules in recent years.
That these flights go via Rekjavik is, via a fair dose of clever marketing (Wow Air offers stopovers in Iceland for no extra charge), seen as something of a virtue rather than a hindrance. Add in the big airlines and national carriers - British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, Delta, United et al - and crossing the Atlantic has become as easy as catching a bus.
Of course, the real note of interest, if you are a traveller of an intrepid persuasion, is that, thanks to this widening of the aviation map, it is not just New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Washington DC and their major-metropolis ilk which can be reached in direct (or semi-direct) fashion.
The world's 50 greatest cities – according to you
The following 10 cities could probably be described as less celebrated dots on the American map - and yet all can now be reached from the UK without the trouble of having to change planes on American soil.
What can you expect when you arrive? A good question. And one that we shall attempt to answer here...
Too often dismissed as San Francisco's unruly little brother - the pair sit so close to each other on opposite sides of San Francisco Bay that they share a subway system - Oakland has, of late, been asserting its existence as a destination in its own right. The launch of two direct flights from the UK has certainly helped on this score - although the city's rising restaurant scene (not least in the eateries around Jack London Square), and the independent producers of its Urban Wine Trail (see visitoakland.com/restaurants/oakland-urban-wine-trail), are among the reasons to visit.
Prime attraction: Oakland is a sports obsessive, and its soul is visible at the Coliseum - the vast arena which, depending on the time of year, hosts the rough and tumble of the Oakland Raiders (American) football team (raiders.com) and the home runs of baseball icons the Oakland A's (mlb.com/athletics).
America's west coast is awash with cities of high profile, from Seattle on the Canadian border to San Diego on the frontier with Mexico - and Portland has, to a relative extent, been lost in the dazzle emanating from the likes of San Francisco and Los Angeles. True, it is not strictly unknown (its hipster vibe has been lampooned in the satirical US TV series Portlandia) - and nor is it literally coastal, lurking 70 miles inland from the Pacific. But it is Oregon's biggest metropolis, and its famously laid-back ambience, all coffee shops, bars and comedy clubs, merits inspection.
Prime attraction: The Pearl District, a trendy neighbourhood just north of Downtown, where formerly derelict warehouses have been reborn as eateries, drinkeries and artists' studios. Powell's City of Books (powells.com), a cavernous temple of the written word, is a local icon.
Flight: Delta (020 7660 0767; delta.com) from Heathrow.
State: Rhode Island
Providence's quiet emergence as a flight destination from the UK is largely due to the fact that it is a feasible alternative to Boston, which sits 50 miles to the north-east, over the line in Massachusetts. But the capital of what is the USA's smallest state also has plenty to detain visitors before they venture east to the beaches of Cape Cod, or south to the holiday islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket (all of which are in Massachusetts). Providence has something of an educated air as the home of one of the Ivy League universities (Brown), and extends this to a food and cultural scene which belies its relative lack of size (it has a population of just 180,000).
Prime attraction: Rhode Island School of Design Museum (risd.edu), which has works by the likes of Picasso, Monet and Warhol among its 100,000 exhibits.
Flights: Norwegian from Edinburgh and Belfast.
So bright a highlight of the American South is the Tennessee capital that it seems impossible that it has not had a direct air connection to the UK in 23 years. British Airways will remedy this in the next few weeks, delivering tourists into a city where country music is as much a religion as anything which features a church. Worship is held in venues as revered as the Grand Ole Opry (opry.com) and the Ryman Auditorium (ryman.com), as well as the late-night honky-tonk bars laid out along Broadway, including the irrepressible Tootsie's Orchid Lounge (tootsies.net).
Prime attraction: The Country Music Hall of Fame (countrymusichalloffame.org), the colossal museum-cum-shrine which salutes everyone from Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Dolly Parton to Taylor Swift, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley via a wealth of exhibits and recollections.
Flight: British Airways from Heathrow (as of May 4 2018).
You could not, in all accuracy, describe Tampa as "hidden" - it perches at the mouth of the colossal Tampa Bay, roughly midway up the west coast of the Florida peninsula. But in a state where Miami is all beach-club gleam and Orlando is a theme park heaven (assuming a theme park is your idea of paradise), this city on the far side of the landmass is sometimes lost in the glitter. It deserves more attention - and has been attempting to attract it via, among other things, a craft-brewing scene (see visittampabay.com/baycrafted.html) which is garnering praise and patrons in equal measure.
Prime attraction: If you can't beat Orlando, you may as well join it - and Tampa offers one of Florida's best theme parks in the form of Busch Gardens (buschgardens.com), which places its emphasis on thrill rides. Newest addition Cobra's Curse - a serpentine beast of spinning carriages which arrived in June 2016 - is one of eight rollercoasters to tick the scream/go faster box with gusto.
Flight: British Airways from Gatwick.
State: North Carolina
Savvy travellers to the USA have known about Charlotte for years. A small city in the lower half of North Carolina, it offers quick access to the coastline of the American South - and negates the need to fly in via a major hub such as New York or Miami. From here, you can forge out in search of some of the key moments in the Stateside story - the historic port of Charleston (200 miles to the south in neighbouring South Carolina), which was founded as long ago as 1670, and witnessed the outbreak of the US Civil War in 1861; the rolling sandbanks at Kill Devil Hills (350 miles east in North Carolina), where the Wright Brothers first flew in 1903 (nps.gov/wrbr).
Prime attraction: Charlotte has not always held onto arriving passengers, but those who decide to explore it may be quietly surprised. Its NoDa (short for "North Davidson Street") district is a classic case of an old milling area coming back to life in restaurants and galleries.
Flight: American Airlines (0844 369 9899; aa.com) from Heathrow.
7. San Jose
The fact that San Jose is California's third biggest city in terms of population - only Los Angeles and San Diego are larger in head-count - is generally overlooked. Certainly, it does not enjoy the same affection with travellers as its close colleague San Francisco (50 miles to the north-west). Partly this is because San Jose is viewed as a gateway - to the tech companies and digital creativity of Silicon Valley, immediately to the west; to the beaches of Santa Cruz et al to the south-west. But it also rewards those who linger - not least in its "second Downtown" of Santana Row, where restaurants and bars are thronged with evening customers.
Prime attraction: You may want to forge 10 miles west to visit the Apple Store on the Apple Campus in Cupertino. Alternatively, the Tech Museum of Innovation, at the heart of the city, offers an enjoyable - and family-friendly - take on San Jose's visions of the future (thetech.org).
Flight: British Airways from Heathrow.
8. Salt Lake City
Utah pulls in a good number of visitors to its geological wonders, not least the northern half of Monument Valley (utah.com/monument-valley) - and the likes of Arches National Park (nps.gov.arch), with its great hoops of rock, and Zion National Park (nps.gov/zion), with its serrated landscape.
That all these treasures lie in the south of the state means that Salt Lake City - which is in the north - is rarely seen as more than a start-point to a longer journey. But it is as good a launch pad as the Arizona capital Phoenix (the other obvious landing strip if you are flying in from the UK, intent on seeing Monument Valley) - and, contrary to opinion, does offer reasons to stick around before you jump in a hire car. The Sugar House district is a great example - one of the city's oldest neighbourhoods, but also a zone which hums with fashionable shops and cafes.
Prime attraction: It would be implausible to visit Salt Lake City and not go to Temple Square, the centreground of the Mormon church where the Salt Lake Temple rears up in a haze of pointed towers and Gothic curiosity. But you should also take in Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (utahmoca.org), which dispenses daring exhibitions on a rotating basis.
Flights: Delta from Heathrow.
You might fly to Baltimore because you think it will be cheaper than flying to Washington DC, and close enough to the US capital for this to be a bright idea (and you'd be right - the two cities are just 40 miles apart, and connected by train). You might pay a visit because you have seen it on crime drama The Wire, and are drawn to the dark side of the American Dream. But you might also drop in because Baltimore is one of the most unappreciated cities in the north-east of the United States - a sea-port on the Patapsco estuary which has held its place on the map since 1729 (a year of birth that makes it more than half a century older than the home of the White House).
Prime attraction: Did you know that the USA has a National Aquarium? It does (aqua.org). And it is in Baltimore. It is home to over 17,000 creatures and more than 750 species.
Flights: British Airways from Heathrow; Icelandair (020 7874 1000; icelandair.com) from Gatwick, Heathrow, Glasgow and Manchester, via Reykjavik; Wow Air (0164 245 0450; wowair.co.uk) from Edinburgh, Gatwick and Stansted, via Reykjavik.
The only city on this list not to welcome a direct flight from the UK, Pittsburgh may also be the artiest of the 10. Tucked into the west of Pennsylvania (it is far nearer to Ohio than it is to its big state colleague Philadelphia), it is the post-industrial giant which has swapped steel for silicon, and is home to major offices of the likes of Facebook, Google and Uber. It was also the birthplace (in 1928) of Andy Warhol - and has come to celebrate its most beloved son in grand fashion.
Prime attraction: The Andy Warhol Museum (warhol.org/museum), the biggest museum on the North American continent which is dedicated to a single artist. Specifically, it is made up of 17 galleries - in which you find some 900 paintings, around 4,000 photographs, 77 sculptures and more than 4,000 of the great man's films and videos. Quite the selection.
Flights: Wow Air from Edinburgh, Gatwick and Stansted, via Reykjavik.