The Extended Travel Ban: What It Means for Air Travelers


[This article is part of the developing coronavirus coverage, and may be outdated. Go here for the latest on the coronavirus.]

On Saturday, the Trump administration extended the ban on foreign nationals from certain European countries to include those traveling from the United Kingdom and Ireland. The latest restrictions go into place on Monday at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

The ban on travelers from the European continent, which went into effect on Friday at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time, does not apply to United States citizens, green card holders or their immediate family members. The same will be true of the extended ban. But regardless of nationality or residency, all travelers could still be affected — by increased security screenings, airline service reductions or other effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

Here’s a guide on which countries are affected, and what changes to air travel and airfare could occur.

The countries affected are those that are in the Schengen Area, which allows travel among its member nations without passport checks or restriction, plus the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The Schengen Area countries are: Austria, Belgium, the 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.

Most of the countries in the area are members of the European Union. Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein are not, but they opted into the Schengen Area and are included in the travel ban.

The United Kingdom includes England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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The travel ban will affect all 28 trans-Atlantic carriers, which collectively make around 1,500 flights per week from Europe and carry more than 400,000 passengers.

Delta Air Lines, the largest trans-Atlantic carrier, has 266 flights from Europe to the United States weekly, according to Cirium, an airline data research firm. In a memo released Friday, Ed Bastian, Delta’s chief executive, said the airline would halt flights to and from continental Europe for 30 days, beginning Sunday.

The number of flights to the United States from London’s Heathrow Airport — the largest airport in Europe by passenger volume — will likely slow dramatically in the coming days as airlines reduce capacity. The major airlines have not yet announced service cuts in response to Saturday’s development, but passengers should monitor the situation closely.

Passengers on low-cost carriers in particular may want to consider backup travel arrangements; those airlines will be most immediately affected by the loss of passenger revenue and are the most likely to cut flights.


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