President Trump on Wednesday night announced that foreign nationals who had been in certain European countries for the last two weeks would not be allowed to fly to the United States.
Within days, two airlines announced cutbacks to services to and from Europe, with Delta Air Lines, the largest carrier in the United States, cutting routes altogether for 30 days and Norwegian Air canceling all flights to six European cities through the end of the month.
The ban, which goes 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. But regardless of nationality or residency, all travelers could still be affected — by increased security screenings or 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.
Which countries are affected?
The 26 European countries affected are part of the Schengen Area, which allows travel among these nations without passport checks or restriction.
The 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.
What about the U.K. or Ireland?
The travel ban does not apply to the United Kingdom, which includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Accordingly, travel to the United States from London’s Heathrow Airport — the largest airport in Europe by passenger volume — is not presently affected, nor from Gatwick Airport in London and Manchester Airport.
Ireland is not part of the Schengen Area. Flights between Dublin Airport and the airports in the United States are not affected.
Nevertheless, passengers will want to consider their travel plans carefully, as passenger demand for seats between the U.K., Ireland and United States destinations will likely increase in the coming days and weeks, making seat availability more difficult.
What if I am a foreign national in Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus or Romania? I’m fine, right?
These four countries are not included in the travel ban. However, there are no direct flights from these countries to the United States. Passengers will need to travel through a country affected by the travel ban — such as Frankfurt, Germany — or via Istanbul or London, which are not affected by the ban.
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Which airlines will be most affected?
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 airline will continue to service London.
This means a drastic and sudden reduction in the supply of flights, and more cuts are expected from other airlines. 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.
he low-cost carrier Norwegian Airlines announced Thursday that it would drastically reduce the number of flights from Europe to the United States, canceling some 4,000 flights and temporarily laying off 50 percent of its employees.
In a statement, the carrier said that beginning Friday through the end of March, all flights to the United States from Amsterdam, Madrid, Oslo, Stockholm, Barcelona and Paris would be canceled. Though Norwegian flights between Gatwick Airport and the United States are unaffected, and the airline said it would attempt to reroute European passengers through that airport, the airline, already struggling financially, may not be able to weather this sharp reduction in sales.
Direct flights are more likely to continue operating from major hubs rather than from smaller destinations.
What about the other airlines — should I expect any discounts or refunds?
Many airlines previously announced generous change policies for travelers wanting to cancel their itineraries — no matter the origin and destination. For example, American Airlines allows passengers who have booked travel up to April 30 to cancel their itinerary and rebook for later in the year, up to Dec. 31. Passengers will generally be required to pay any difference in fare.
Generally, airlines are not offering refunds on flights to Europe at present. Passengers should consult their airline websites for details as the restrictions vary by airline and route.
What will happen to the price of airfare?
The cost to fly between Europe and the United States in the short-term is expected to rise, for two reasons. One, there will be a sharp increase in demand from passengers wanting to return to the United States, and two, reductions in the number of flights are inevitable — such as Delta’s action to temporarily halt flights to and from Europe.
While there are 28 airlines that fly between the two continents, cuts in the number of available seats by multiple airlines at once will cause fares to rise in the short term.
On Thursday, the three major carriers in the United States each announced caps on their trans-Atlantic fares. Delta Air Lines and United Airlines did not provide details; American Airlines said in a statement that main-cabin fares from the United States have been capped at $1,000.
[President Trump’s limits on travel from most of Europe left myriad questions. Here’s an explainer of what we know.]
The U.S. Traveler
I’m in Europe now and not scheduled to come home until later. What should I do?
United States citizens could conceivably return on their scheduled itineraries. However, passengers should be aware that flights — both trans-Atlantic and within Europe — could be canceled on short notice.
Those flying Delta to or from Europe should contact that airline, though the airline said Friday that it plans to fly a “nearly full schedule of flights” through March 15.
Passengers should review their flight information by calling the airline and also make sure their contact information is up-to-date: Carriers may attempt to contact their passengers by email or mobile phone with service updates.