Updated 1PM on 03/14/20: This is an update to my original post made a few days ago as the US administration has just announced that they have added the UK and Ireland to the list of banned European countries and will go into effect Monday at midnight.
Tonight, the USA announced a 30-day travel ban for Europe. What does this mean for you? And what should you do if you have travel to the to/from the US?
I trust that you’ve heard about the coronavirus by now (particularly because this seems like all I’ve been writing about lately) and there is no question that nations around the world are responding to the coronavirus outbreak in various ways. With cases rising very quickly in Italy (simultaneously dropping in China) and more cases popping up around Europe, new measures are being put in place for many countries. So, let’s dive in to what we know so far about the US travel ban.
The US Travel Ban on Travelers from Europe
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.
Travel From European To The US Is Banned. What Does That Mean?
First, this 30 day ban begins March 13 at midnight. It will not allow the people traveling from the above countries to enter the US for a period of 30 days. Here are some key points about this travel ban/suspension:
- It does NOT apply to US citizens, permanent residents and many others with similar status
It does NOT apply to travel from the UK
- It does NOT apply to travel from Turkey (they aren’t part of the Schengen Area. More on this below)
In short, if you are in one of the above countries and do not fit into the group of exceptions who would be allowed in, and you need/want to get to the US, your best option is to leave tomorrow, Thursday, March 12 (or today March 12 depending on when you read this).
Do not assume that you can simply take a flight or other means of transportation to a country not on the list and fly to the US. It is very likely that there will be systems in place to identify your origination or you will need to make a declaration upon landing in the US. Countries are already putting penalties on those who lie about that (Singapore will put you in jail for 6 months and Saudi Arabia will fine you ~$133,000USD).
What Happens if You Have Flights Booked to the US in the Next 30 Days?
With only certain travelers allowed into the US for the next 30 days from Europe, there will likely be many flights from European carriers that will be canceled in the coming days. If your flight is scheduled in the next 48 hours, you should be ok. If it’s more than 48 hours away, I would simply wait for a few days until the flight schedules get updated.
If your flight is not canceled, you will be able to change the flight for travel for a later date and just pay whatever difference in fare that exists at the time.
Here is a list of the major airlines and links to the various airlines regarding waivers:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- United Airlines
- Air France
- British Airways
What If You are In Europe But Need to Travel to the US (and are allowed to)?
This is a tough issue to address because this is a fluid situation. Additionally, I assume a lot of flights will be canceled and many travel plans will be changed.
Given this information (and the restrictions above), the airlines that will likely book up very fast are going to be British Airways and Turkish Airlines. Both of these airlines operate outside of the banned countries and are the nearest for travelers in Europe seeking to go to the US.
Turkish Airlines typically has excellent one-way fares between the US and Europe. So, if you just need to get home, best to book with Turkish on a one-way fare. They can typically be found, even close-in, for under $500 from many places in Europe.
British Airways is much higher for one-ways so you will want to make it a roundtrip ticket. Fortunately, if you are in Europe, there are some excellent fares to London if you want to fly there on one ticket and then on another to the US.
What Will the Health Screenings Look Like?
At this point, who knows? There is no information about which airports will be approved for entry from Europe and what the screening will look like.
There are a lot of critical questions to be answered here. For example, will it be done at the point of departure to the US or once in the US?
At the very least, it will involve checking your temperature and possibly some questions regarding where you had stayed. I will be updating this section with more information as I receive it.
Travel is about to get real interesting!
Who else will follow? We don’t know but what we do know is that the US is closed to travel from Europe for all but those that are US citizens, permanent residents, and select other classifications of travelers. This ban will go into place at midnight Friday, March 13 for 30 days. In other words, you can fly up until 11:59 pm Thursday, March 12th EST.
I have international trips scheduled for the end of March, April, June, July, September, and November.
I had made plans to cancel March so this just confirms that decision. With this announcement, 2 trips in April via Europe will be canceled and I’m considering just canceling everything for the year and starting from scratch once we get things back in order.
It’s getting rough out there folks. Stay Safe!
Have any of your travel plans been affected by the ban? Do you plan to still travel or cancel your plans?