Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Here is the British Airways refund policy on the US / Schengen travel ban – and how the ban will work

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

Luckily for us, as Rhys is in Australia on his £185 Qantas deal this week, we were able to get some outline coverage of the US / EU travel ban into our 6am email.  It’s now time to take a closer look.

What is the British Airways policy for anyone holding tickets to the United States?

You should note that this policy has already been revised once during the time it took to write this article, so you should be wary about relying on this guidance.  However, the 11.45am update here says:

If you have a British Airways ticket, for travel on BA or a codeshare operated by a partner, to the United States for travel by 11th April, you can:

change it for another date between 12th April and 1st August (no change fee but the fare difference will be due) or

accept a British Airways travel voucher (the small print of this voucher is not yet known)

As of 11.45am, you CAN ask for a change of origin and destination

We will add in the Virgin Atlantic response when we have it.

US travel ban from EU / Schengen countries

What has Donald Trump announced about travel to the US?

Here is the policy in summary:

If you have visited any of the 26 Schengen Zone countries in the last 14 days, you are banned from entering the United States

The only exceptions are for US citizens and their immediate family members, Green Card holders and holders of certain specific types of visa.  However, these passengers will also face new restrictions.

These restrictions will be imposed from tomorrow, Friday 13th March, and will initially last for 30 days

As the UK is not in Schengen, UK residents may continue to travel to the US unless they have visited a Schengen Zone country in the past 14 days

For absolute clarity …. don’t think that the US authorities will not know that you have visited a Schengen country in the past 14 days.  Ever since 9/11, the amount of data collected on your flying patterns is substantial and freely shared.

The ban is based on which countries you have visited.  It makes no difference, at all, which country issued your passport (unless it is the US!).

US travel ban from EU / Schengen countries

What are the 26 Schengen Zone countries?

Here are the 26 countries in Schengen.  Unless you meet the US citizenship or residency requirements, you cannot enter the US if you have been in any of these countries in the 14 days before you fly:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czechia / Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

Ireland, for clarity, is not in the Schengen Zone.

Here is the official statement:

 Today President Donald J. Trump signed a Presidential Proclamation, which suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States. These countries, known as the Schengen Area, include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. This does not apply to legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation.”

US travel ban from EU / Schengen countries

Will aircraft continue flying between the US and Schengen Zone?

Almost certainly yes.

Even inside the Schengen Zone, it is technically ‘business as usual’ for US citizens and residents.  That said, there will obviously be a large drop in willingness to travel.

It is also important to note that flights for US citizens and residents will only be allowed to return to “approved airports” that can screen passengers on arrival and direct suspected cases to a designated quarantine centre.

It is clear that all US flights will need to be suspended to airports which are not on the “approved” list – but at the moment, there is no such list.

At a guess, because US residents are more likely to fly US carriers and vice versa, I would expect the European carriers to be harder hit and more likely to cancel flights.  Finnair has already suspended all flights to the US.

US travel ban from EU / Schengen countries

How will the ban impact British Airways and Virgin Atlantic?

We are now into speculation territory of course.

BA may be harder hit.  British Airways has a huge amount of transfer traffic into Europe, whilst Virgin Atlantic does not due to its lack of a short-haul network.  These transfer passengers will now fall away, unless they are US citizens or residents.

I would expect further announcements during Thursday from both airlines.

Comments (129)

  • MP says:

    What an absolute clusterf**k

  • Rich says:

    I wonder how they can be crewed?

    US airlines will have enough US citizens to operate the flights, but EU carriers won’t.

  • Anna says:

    I have F award seats to MIA for April 10th. Assuming I can get through to someone at BA, are they likely to agree to move these to J to GCM (our ultimate destination but no F service on that route)? Just thinking it might be better to simplify our travel plans and stick to one place, if that’s still going to be possible!

    • Anna says:

      For clarity, travelling MAN-LHR-MIA so not Schengen but Trump could change his policy again at any moment!

      • Alex W says:

        If there is availability to GCM then just cancel and rebook for the £35 fee.

    • Rob says:

      No rerouting, as per the rules I link to above.

    • Jimmy the builder says:

      You won’t be able to do this – they are only offering to rebook from 12 April 2020 onwards.

    • Lady London says:

      You may get in if there’s a gap between this and potentially GCM applying something similar. Given its status as a tax haven and the number of private flights in and out enforcement might be lax but coming in on a scheduled airline, prob enforced if they announce same.

      So defo worth a try as a way to improve your flights – if you still end up flying.

    • Charlieface says:

      EC261 says they have to offer a reasonable re-routing if that’s what you want. Otherwise book it yourself and claim it back afterwards (or from you credit card)

  • NFH says:

    Rebooking for a future date or a travel voucher are insufficient. Many passengers will have booked travel during these dates for a specific event, and therefore these two options are useless. British Airways should give them a full refund in the same way that it would if the flight itself was cancelled.

    Hotels chains such as IHG are giving full refunds for non-refundable bookings. Airlines should be doing the same if healthy passengers are barred from travelling through no fault of their own.

    • Anna says:

      But this way they get to keep hold of your money and you can’t re-book with a rival carrier….

      • Lady London says:

        Plus if the market lets them they can price gouge when you use your voucher

  • Anna says:

    I’ve just re-read the article and I don’t understand- are BA not now selling ANY tickets to the US or just from Schengen countries?

    • Rob says:

      No tickets at all, unless you pay the fully flexible fare.

      • Anna says:

        But there are still award seats in abundance! It’s crazy, F ticket to MIA would be £14k return – or 200,000 Avios plus fees!

  • Adrian says:

    Rob, any idea why BA would remove all non-flex USA flights from sale?

    • Justin says:

      Because it’s almost certain the ban will extend to the UK & Ireland at some stage in the near future, and flexible fares are easily refunded.

    • AJA says:

      It’s a way of protecting revenue for BA as their bookings must have fallen off a cliff. Charging very high fares means that the people who must travel and haven’t yet purchased are forced to pay a lot more. It’s also a consequence of their “Book with confidence” offer.

    • Nick says:

      This is the quickest way to ‘pause’ new bookings while they work out what to do. They need to keep it open to avoid cancelling the flight, but almost no one books so it gives them breathing space. This space in turn allows them to think through their options and work out the best one to take – it changes so fast that they need a bit of time to keep up.

      • ADS says:

        it’s the same things that Monarch did the day before they ceased operations

      • Lady London says:

        And they are “holding the line” and not crumbling until they see how things develop.

        Annoying, but reasonable.

  • bsuije says:

    “Origin/Destination/Stopover changes – No”

    I assume this means that you cannot ask BA (albeit, nicely) to change an ex-EU ticket to an ex-UK one (even if the original journey includes a transit via LON)?

    • Rob says:

      See the 11.45 update. You CAN now change origin.

      However, because the fare difference is due, you may be lumbered with a multi-thousand pound fee unless BA is prepared to waive this.

  • bsuije says:

    Follow-up question – if you cancel an ex-EU and BA issues you with a voucher (which will presumably be in the currency of the origin country), can you spend that voucher on an ex-UK ticket?

    • Rob says:

      What has been happening to date is that they DON’T actually issue a voucher. Your existing flight is put into suspense. When you decide what you want to do, the agents pull up your old flight and make adjustments to it, eg change the destination and date. So anything could happen ….

    • Kai says:

      I once paid for a EUR flight using GBP voucher, so I guess it’d be possible.

      • Lady London says:

        Not necessarily. Quite often a voucher may only be used for a new flight departing same country even if there is some other flexibility.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.