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

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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)

  • Dave says:

    I am travelling to the US tomorrow (13th) for the UK and arrive just before midnight. However I have been to France within the past 14 days.

    As this is before midnight would you advise still to travel?

    • czechoslovakia says:

      “Do you feel lucky – Punk”, springs to mind. Friday 13th suggests not, for some. And what if your flight is delayed past midnight. Doubt the TSA will care about BAs sloppy time keeping…. That`s a tough one.

      • Shoestring says:

        also: (you could be OK) – [Sec. 5. Effective Date. This proclamation is effective at 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 13, 2020. This proclamation does not apply to persons aboard a flight scheduled to arrive in the United States that departed prior to 11:59 p.m. eastern daylight time on March 13, 2020.]

        • Dave says:

          Thanks.

          I think that clears it up that as government advice there “should” be no issues.

      • John says:

        TSA is not involved with arriving passengers.

    • MaxGlobetrotter says:

      Go for it …. you are fine to enter the US at the moment

    • Anna says:

      If you are delayed you will be at the mercy of US immigration officials who will no doubt interpret the rules in any way they feel like at that particular moment.

  • Aston100 says:

    Surely BA might now consider extending the expiry of companion vouchers?

    • Anna says:

      They are extending them for people who have already used them then cancelled. There’s always a risk of something going wrong if you leave it until very late in the day to use it, that’s why HFP readers strategise when they trigger them!

      • yorkieflyer says:

        mulling over our early May US trip booked using Lloyds voucher. I think I’m correct in saying that as the vouchers are now expired, last July, best course of action would be to amend booking to a new date. I can’t see getting the vouchers back, against existing policy, or getting them extended?

        • Ian_H says:

          I’m in the same situation, have an easter trip booked using 2 x Lloyds vouchers (mine and oh) I can see that *IF* BA cancels I would get the avios back BUT what of the voucher – it will be long expired, would they perhaps credit avios to the value of the discount or extend the vouchers? Saying that I’m in the same situation with the accommodation, I have 2 IHG CC Free night vouchers in play for rooms at the IC during the trip. I cant see IHG have offered to extend vouchers – perhaps another option to credit points to the value?

    • Nick says:

      Despite what Rob has been saying, BA’s policy is to extend vouchers expiring soon (both 2-4-1s and GUFs). They now don’t even have to be linked to a cancelled flight. It just takes a brief call.

  • MaxGlobetrotter says:

    Air Canada will also be an alternative route

    • Anna says:

      I was thinking this – don’t Americans have some sort of freedom of movement between the US and Canada?

      • John says:

        No. They have simplified temporary work visas (including bringing dependents) for certain occupations which can be applied for at the border, and they don’t need to obtain travel authorisation in advance. A handful of states/provinces issue enhanced driver licences which can be used for border crossings and Canadians don’t get fingerprinted when entering the US.

    • Lady London says:

      Remember Canada now needs an esta type thing for their country too even if you find Nd yourself accidentally transiting

    • Lyn says:

      Flying from Schengen to the US via Canada might be an alternative for US citizens/residents, but not for anyone else.

      • John says:

        Until Canada introduces similar restrictions, non-US citizens/residents can go to Canada for 14 days then try to enter the US.

  • BrightonReader says:

    I have BA wrap around flights to ARN for a trip to the US next week on AY

    AY allow cancellation or rebooking until end of November

    As I can’t fly now what is BAs position on my separate flights to / from ARN?

    Woud be happy with a voucher to be honest. Better than losing the fare (other than the taxes and airport fees) have a couple of days before the LHR-ARN poisitioning flight so no immediate rush to call ba.

  • AJA says:

    O/T Norwegian had another rough day today with another drop of 22% in its share price. It is to cancel 4,000 flights and temporarily lay off about half of its staff because of the coronavirus outbreak.The airline said the changes would apply until the end of May and numbers may increase.
    Its boss said new restrictions on travel between the US and mainland Europe put “extra pressure on an already difficult situation”.

    I bet they now wish they’d accepted BA’s takeover bid a couple of years ago.

    • ADS says:

      38 usd in April 2018

      0.79 usd today

      • Shoestring says:

        you’d have to say the market says its a basket case without them finding *huge* additional investment/ cash from some miraculous source

        • Will says:

          And if you had that money, why not cut the losses and just start anew?

  • Zed says:

    Slightly OT – I was flying the family for Easter to Muscat, Oman on BA, booked months ago. I’m just reading Oman will stop visa entry to all countries for one month from 15 March (https://timesofoman.com/article/2896842/Oman/Coronavirus-Oman-suspends-tourist-visas-for-all-countries) – if I can’t get a visa now, will BA/travel agent refund me?

  • Oh Matron! says:

    Marriott Long Wharf here in Boston closed until further notice due to Covid19 outbreak.

  • Oh Matron! says:

    Just flown JFK-BOS with DL. 1st was 1/3rd pilots. They are already pulling staff from Europe.

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