International air travelers are once again being thrown into coronavirus chaos after President Trump issued a confusing proclamation that will severely restrict travel to much of Europe.
In an address to the nation last night, Trump initially said he is suspending “all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days” in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19. But his administration later walked some of that policy back, clarifying that the restrictions only apply to “foreign nationals who have been in 26 European countries with open borders agreements.”
The contradictory directives and lack of specifics have left airlines—already reeling from the coronavirus outbreak that has spread to 125 countries–scrambling to respond to customers who were either planning to travel to Europe or are currently in Europe and need to get back to the United States.
So what should you do if you were planning a trip to Europe? We reached out to the major airlines (United, American, and Delta) about their policies. Here’s what they told us:
A spokesperson for United sent the following statement:
“We are reviewing our flight and crew schedules to comply with the administration’s travel restrictions. We currently have change fee waivers in place for any customers traveling domestically and internationally through April 30. For those trying to get home from Europe, we have capped fares between the U.S. and Europe. Importantly, we will continue to fly our regular schedule from Europe to the U.S. through March 19. After that, we expect to fly daily to Zurich, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Manchester and Edinburgh, maintain multiple flights to Frankfurt and Munich, and operate 18 daily flights to and from London, three to Dublin and less than daily service to Lisbon, all while continuing to monitor demand. As always, we will continue to provide our customers and employees with the very latest information as it develops.”
Reached for comment, the airline referred us to an announcement on its website stating new entry requirements that will go into effect on March 13, 2020, after 11:59 p.m. ET.
- “Any U.S. citizen or lawful U.S. permanent resident returning to the United States who has traveled to one of the Schengen Area countries within the previous 14 days must enter the United States through an approved airport. American Airlines customers will be rebooked, if necessary, to one of those approved airports by our Reservations and Airport teams.”
- Foreign nationals who have traveled to one of the Schengen zone countries within the last 14 days will be denied permission to travel to the United States.
Read American’s full announcement here.
Delta Air Lines
Delta issued a statement saying it will be waiving change fees for people traveling to, from, or through Europe and the United Kingdom through May 31. Find the full statement here.
A spokesperson for Delta told us “The safety and health of our customers and employees is always our highest priority. Delta has and will continue to quickly make adjustments to service, as needed, in response to government travel directives.” You can find the latest information on Delta’s dedicated COVID-19 updates page.
A number of international carriers have already issued statements about the new restrictions, with many indicating that the situation is developing rapidly and likely to change. Here’s a partial list:
- Air France (latest update here)
- Austrian Airlines (latest update here)
- Norwegian Air (March 12 statement here)
- Lufthansa (March 12 statement here)
- Icelandair (March 12 statement here)
- Swiss International (March 12 update here)
Which countries are affected?
According to the Department of Homeland Security’s website, the restrictions affect the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland
This story is developing . . .