Effective from midnight March 13 and for a period of 30 days, the U.S. government will refuse entry to travelers arriving from the 26 European companies known as the Schengen area unless they are U.S. citizens, lawful U.S. permanent residents or immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Enacted to help limit the spread of COVID-19, the travel ban will affect the plans and routes of visitors traveling from Europe. The U.S. government has suggested it may allow travel to resume earlier than 30 days should the situation improve. Here’s what business travelers need to know now:
Travelers may pursue alternative flights to the U.S.
Travelers may take gateway flights to the U.S. from Europe, outside of the 26 states covered under the Schengen agreement. At least 18 European countries are presently excluded from the ban, including Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Ireland, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine and the U.K.
Travelers’ previous destinations may affect their eligibility to enter U.S. from a gateway country
The U.S. may refuse entry to any foreign national or “alien” flying in from the above listed countries if that traveler visited a Schengen country, Iran or mainland China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau) within 14 days of travel to the U.S.
Travelers headed to Europe from the U.S. will most likely not be left stranded
As there is no travel embargo to Europe, flights there should continue but likely at decreased demand. The inevitable drop in demand will probably result in fewer transatlantic flights but capacity is not expected to reach zero; there may be no direct flights between some U.S. and European cities.
The ban probably means cancelled flights for some business travelers. If flights are indeed cancelled, travelers may have to fly via Canada, the U.K., Ireland or Turkey, where they can connect onto direct services to their final European destination.
Exemptions for citizens, permanent residents and immediate relatives of citizens
The ban does not apply to U.S. citizens, permanent residents or immediate relatives of citizens. Any U.S. citizen or lawful U.S. permanent resident returning to the U.S, having visited a Schengen country within the previous 14 days, must arrive through an approved airport. These are:
Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, Dallas Fort Worth International, Detroit Metropolitan, Newark Liberty, Honolulu Daniel K Inouye International, New York JFK, Los Angeles, Chicago O’Hare, Seattle-Tacoma, San Francisco International, Washington-Dulles International.
Americans, who undergo “appropriate” screenings, are exempt.
Compensation for disrupted flights
According to EC 261, travelers may be owed up to €600 (approx. $USD617) for delayed or cancelled flights operated by European carriers leaving the U.S. and headed back to EU. It’s unclear if the U.S. ban allows airlines to declare force majeure, i.e., circumstances beyond their control, which could result in zero compensation.
The information in this post is accurate as of March 13 and is provided for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. BCD Travel does not provide advice or recommendations on the prudence of travel to an affected destination. However, we seek to provide pertinent information, allowing companies and travelers to make informed decisions regarding business travel. As the situation remains fluid, we recommend you follow the latest development via trusted news sources.