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UK and Ireland added to the United States travel ban

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The United States Government has just announced that the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland will be added to the United States travel ban.

Non-US passport holders / non-US residents will not be allowed to enter the United States if they have been in the UK or Ireland within the last 14 days.

The ban will kick in at 4am GMT on Tuesday (midnight Monday US EST).

If you wish to travel to the United States, you need to get yourself onto a plane during Sunday or Monday to land before midnight Monday EST.

UK and Ireland added to the United States travel ban

US citizens and their immediate family members, as well as Green Card holders and holders of certain types of visa, are not impacted by this ban.

However, they will only be allowed to fly to 13 specific airports where they will be screened on entry and, if necessary, sent to a quarantine centre near the airport.

The ban will run until 11th April alongside the Schengen Zone ban.

That said, given the current estimates for coronavirus infections, it seems very unlikely that the ban will be lifted until after the peak of infections in May or June.

This is, clearly, a disaster for British Airways and especially Virgin Atlantic.  It is very easy to see Virgin Atlantic grounding its entire fleet now.  It is also possible that we could now see cuts of nearer 75% than the expected 50% to the British Airways network (by passenger volume) next week.

It is not certain that ALL British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights to the US will be cut.  There will be US citizens to return home and cargo will still need to be shipped.  The vast majority of services will be dropped, with a virtual 100% certainty of cancellations where the destination is not one of the 13 quarantine airports.

What will happen to my British Airways flight to the USA?

BA has deleted the webpage which showed travel agent guidance in real time.  The BA Travel Trade website is now the best place for accurate information.

REFUNDS ARE NOT ALLOWED.  You can, however, ask for a 1-year BA travel voucher under the ‘Book With Confidence’ refund policy which we outlined here.

For anyone with a ticket for travel up to 11th April, you can rebook onto a flight between 12th April and 1st August.

There are no change fees but you must pay any fare difference.  You are allowed to change your destination airport if you wish.

However …. don’t take this policy too seriously.  If your flight is cancelled, which is likely to happen for the vast majority of people, you are legally entitled to a full cash refund.  You need to hang on for a few days until British Airways decides which flights will be cut.

Comments (390)

  • Dan says:

    Just out: UK advises against ‘all but essential’ travel to US
    The Foreign Office has advised against “all but essential travel” to the US after president Trump introduced a travel ban on the UK over the coronavirus pandemic.

    • Anna says:

      That seems a bit pointless as they’re not letting us in anyway and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of a reciprocal travel ban for US citizens!

      • Graeme says:

        Far from pointless, I think this could be a relief for some people depending on the situation regarding holiday insurance.

        In the event of countries not accepting UK visitors holiday insurance pay-outs seem uncertain from a number of providers according to MSE. If, however, the FCO advise against all but essential travel then you may be referred back to your travel agent to explore options. The travel agent I have booked through will offer a refund, reschedule or change of destination in this situation. I have this in writing.

        So the FCO announcement could be pivotal allowing those unable to travel to booked destinations some redress through their agent. This may not apply across the board with all agents and if your insurance policy covers these circumstances then you also have that option.

  • Beano says:

    I’m meant to be flying to Vegas on Tuesday. Its after the ban starts and Vegas isn’t one of the thirteen airports US passengers are allowed to travel to so by my reckoning, no way BA can do anything but cancel the flight.

    However so far all I’ve got from BA is a text telling me IF I want to change my flight I can have a voucher. The app is still trying to get me to pay extra to book seats etc.

    Is this the disgraceful attempt to milk as much of passengers as they possibly can that it appears to be, or simply incompetence?

    • Dittorock says:

      Seemingly I’d like to give the benefit of doubt considering it’s such a rapid changing situation, but you’re not alone, AA is behaving equally the same, in fact arguably looking at it’s policy it’s slightly worse with travel having to commence by end of the year, although it’s January 2021 for some areas, but Italy is specifically called out for allowing refunds.
      Hopefully with travel insurance and the new FCO guidance we can all get some leverage and use EC261 or USDOT wherever we need to.

      Frankly I hope the airlines can make it, more importantly the employee’s! The approach some airlines are taking is just not clear/concise enough. Hopefully they are communicating and supporting their employee’s better than they are to the customers.

      In it together though, hoping decent humanity prevails overall….

    • Jimmy the builder says:

      We had a similar problem in that our Miami flight on Tuesday must also be cancelled (Miami not a screening airport) but the problem is that BA haven’t cancelled the flight yet so there is no refund policy in place.

    • Beano says:

      Update: Flight now cancelled. But I noticed that the initial communication (12:15 today) stated it was still planned to operate!! Well done BA!

  • JRC says:

    Spain has just imploded. The “pussycat” is well and truly out of the bag.

  • meta says:

    I’ve now emailed Singapore Airlines to see if they can put me on a flight so I can only transit Changi. Waiting continues…

  • R says:

    Has anyone been in this position before;
    If BA cancel an Avios 2-4-1 redemption flight, but I’ve since downgraded the card since, do I still get the voucher back?

    • Jimmy the builder says:

      Yep you should get it back, albeit with the same expiry date as before

    • Jimmy the builder says:

      PS that said, if it is a redemption flight and it is more than 24 hours away, then you might consider cancelling it now and getting the points and voucher back, and you should be able to get all the cash back as well except for the £35pp admin fee

      • R says:

        Ta 🙂

        It’s still 4 months away – I’m perhaps being overly optimistic, but I’m hoping by then things may have calmed down.

      • Paul says:

        “There are no change fees but you must pay any fare difference”

        This is perhaps the most outrageous aspect of BAs policy and I hope it bites them severely in the months ahead.

        My ticket is an Avios booking for 3rd April so I will wait till they cancel to get all the fees and taxes back. I began my claim with Amex for internal US flights and events that were booked

        For others however with bookings they made in sales and promotions the idea that they cannot get their money back and even be expected to pay more is scandalous. If BA want a bail out then they need to treat the taxpayers who will fund it with decency. I can just about accept no refund and rebooking but to charge more, after having hiked fares, is simply not right

  • Andrew says:

    Gulf Times reporting that QR are suspending all flights for 2 weeks from Wednesday.

    • Paul says:

      Seems like a very sensible approach frankly. So much easier to manage expectations.

  • sk736 says:

    I presume airline crew are exempt from the ban. Otherwise, how could BA or VS operate any flights at all to the USA?

  • Nicola Walton says:

    Now the FO has advised against travel to the US, to get a refund do we go via the airline or can we ask the card we booked on for a refund? Our outward flight is on. 9 April with Virgin and booked on Virgin credit card.

    • Mark says:

      The FCO advice only potentially helps from an insurance claim perspective. Your best course of action is to wait from Virgin to cancel the flight (which is likely). In the meantime check your insurance in case you have to make a claim.

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