Looking to visit the United States in the next month? If you’ve been in Europe’s Schengen zone that is going to be a problem. As of 13 March 2020 the US will block arrivals for all non-residents that spent time in Schengen in the 14 days prior to entering the USA.
US President Donald Trump announced the new policy in a national address from the Oval Office on Wednesday night. Except he didn’t. Rather than announcing the policy he announced something rather different than the policy.
The briefing included at least four major points incorrect or truth-adjacent. And so not only is the US implementing questionable global policies, established without consultation of the affects foreign governments, but it also managed to announce them more broadly than they really are, creating further troubles. He was, indeed, the “fake news” he so often laments.
The claim: No flights from Europe.
The reality: Non-residents that have visited the Schengen zone will not be admitted to the US within 14 days of that visit. While airlines will almost certainly cut flights as a result, flights are not prohibited.
The claim: Cargo & goods are blocked.
The reality: Cargo flights are permitted under the policy.
The claim: The UK is exempt.
The reality: This one is very much truth-adjacent. Yes, visits to the the UK are excluded as it is not in the Schengen zone. But neither is Ireland, so it is also exempt. But because the announcement was so poorly presented on air travelers to Ireland late Wednesday night were presented with a gate agent telling them they might not get back to the US if they go.
The claim: Health insurance companies “have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments.”
The reality: The waiver applies only to testing, not to treatment. And that doesn’t address the uninsured.
Beyond dispelling the lies, it is worth examining whether the changes announced can help stem the spread of COVID-19 within the USA. And on that front the news is mixed. Limiting the flow of people can help slow the spread of any disease. That is well-established science. But the spread right now does not appear to be coming from outside the US borders. It is coming from so-called “community” related incidents. People already in the USA are ill and transmitting the disease to others. Stopping travelers from the Schengen zone may slow one pathway but that is the smaller and less significant pathway. Efforts to reduce community spread or to properly test suspected cases would likely be more effective at this time but were not addressed.
The administration also failed to identify why only the Schengen zone is included and why all of the Schengen zone is included. The UK and Ireland also have cases reported, more than some Schengen countries. The distinction does not, at first glance, make much sense.
Not surprisingly, the European Union was upset by the news. From a joint statement by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel:
The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation. The European Union is taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus.
How will airlines react?
Airlines on both sides of the Atlantic will almost certainly trim flights as a result of the new rules. Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are more exposed on the US side than American Airlines given the latter’s partner hub in London with British Airways.
Still, a significant portion of AA’s London traffic historically connected onward into Europe on the BA network. Demand will be down significantly. Ditto for the European side, with the Lufthansa Group carriers already reeling from other cuts now facing the loss of another significant market.
Finnair appears to be the first carrier cutting US routes wholesale for the duration of the ban.
Others will undoubtedly follow.
Hundreds of flights each day will be cancelled representing tens of thousands of seats and millions of dollars in revenue. They also represent thousands of jobs at the airlines, in the airports and at all the associated support companies. This is a massive economic blow at the global level. And what the endgame looks like remains terribly unclear.
The flights that do operate are expected to funnel through designated gateway airports on the US side, similar to how the China arrivals operated last month. Passengers should expect slower processing times as they are screened on arrival. But exactly which airports are included has not been disclosed. Likely because the decisions were not made by the time the announcement was. Oopsie.
More on COVID-19 and the airlines affected
- Alaska Airlines offers elite bonus earning in face of COVID-19 booking weakness
- Massive cuts, uncertain recovery timelines for aviation in the face of COVID-19
- Qantas cuts international 25% through September facing coronavirus-induced demand drop
- Spirit Airlines plans 5% growth reduction for April as COVID-19 hurts demand
- American Airlines slashes schedule, increases flexibility for customer rebookings
- US to block some European visitors
- Two key takeaways from American’s latest schedule cuts
- Regulators suspend slot rules, opening door to deeper airline cuts
- Beyond route cuts, airlines initiate extended suspension of operations
- Gogo looks to ride out coronavirus-related dip in demand
- Trans States Airlines: The first US airline victim of COVID-19
- JetBlue removes 40% of capacity, delays new deliveries as demand drops
- Airlines get a break on coronavirus EC261 comp, looking for more
- Airport lounges shutter as airlines slash capacity
- Will COVID-19 delay the opening of Berlin Brandenburg Airport?
- Qatar Airways plans 75% capacity cut in response to COVID-19
- Emirates, Turkish Airlines slash route networks, ground aircraft
- JetBlue plans additional draw down in service
- Is it time for US airports to start closing terminals??
- Converting to cargo: Putting passenger planes to use in the COVID-19 era
- IATA anticipates recession, slower recovery, as COVID-19 impact drag on
- US carriers cut frequencies, not destinations as they seek federal funding
- JetBlue plans 70%+ cut in April operations
- Cancelled flights, vouchers and the airline cash flow crunch
- Spirit Airlines reportedly cutting 90% of flights
- US airlines cut deep, but not deep enough
- An eerie quiet over New York City: The flights are gone
- Who wants what? How the US airlines are responding with CARES Act funding on the line
- Delta, United extend elite status by a year, adjust other benefits
- DOT adjusts, finalizes airline route requirements for CARES Act funding.
- Lufthansa announces major, permanent fleet restructuring
- Air Canada, Alaska Airlines extend elite status
- Deeper cuts, reprotect options coming for JetBlue
- Air Canada replaces seats with cargo in 777-300ER cabin
- American Airlines extends status, eases qualification
- A new take on amenity kits in the COVID-19 era
- COVID crushing inflight connectivity: Part 1
- Stuck in the past, DOT botches its CARES Act implementation
- DOT grants exemptions to Delta, Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines under CARES Act obligations
- Introducing yin-yang seating for economy class
- Inflight social distancing will kill short-haul LCC travel: IATA
- Gogo furloughs 60% of workforce, applies for CARES Act support
- COVID crushing inflight connectivity: Part 2
- De Havilland, Air Canada Cargo partner on Dash 8-400 cargo conversion
- JetBlue plans new route network for CARES Act compliance
- Spirit Airlines running triangle routes to meet CARES Act requirements
- Sun Country wins big as United, Frontier lose in latest CARES Act ruling
- Frontier Airlines pushes new route plan for CARES Act compliance
- Argentina plans to restart flights in September 2020
- Spirit Airlines asks DOT again to drop destinations
- Delta Flight Products, TechOps develop isolation pod for COVID-19 military transport
- JetBlue aims to drop 16 "major hub" destinations from its network
- Allegiant scores leniency from DOT in CARES Act obligations
- Panasonic Avionics implements furloughs to address slowing business
- American, Delta confirm accelerated fleet retirements
- Airbus aims to ease "COVID Combi" temporary freighter conversions
- The Weekly Wrap: FlightPlan, personal screening and more!
- United’s long-haul operations focus on a new "workhorse"
- United plans touchless bag tag kiosks
- Temperature scans in, 767s out for Air Canada, Rouge
- JetBlue, Spirit score exemptions to drop service at major US airports
- IATA recommends against blocked middle seats, favors "layered" protections
- United plans to resume (cargo for now) Hong Kong-Singapore service
- JetBlue suspends six cities through June
- Project Wingman USA Opens Lounges for Frontline Healthcare Heroes at Two Major New York City Hospitals
- Cape Air’s ugly April stats (and some possible good news for May)
- Fighting for the middle: A pandemic seating shift
- Avianca declares bankruptcy, seeks protection in restructuring
- United raises ire in cutting hours for salaried employees
- DOT further relaxes airline CARES Act obligations
- Allegiant sees quick recovery on the horizon
- Delta drops 777 fleet as coronavirus cuts continue
- JetBlue offers free TrueBlue Mosaic status, plus a year extension
- United faces lawsuit over M&A employees pay cut
- Optimism on the horizon: The Weekly Wrap 15 May 2020
- Beached Whale: A380’s future turns more bleak
- TSA implementing lower-touch screening protocols
- Volotea plans for growth into a COVID-affected Summer
- Health passports in our future: The Weekly Wrap
- LATAM seeks US bankruptcy protection, plans to continue operations
- JetBlue plans return of international markets in June
- Frontier, Mobile bicker over flights to Orlando
- US retaliates against China, blocking all flights
- China blinks, US to back down on flight ban
- ATPCO moves to ease ticketing changes for airlines worldwide
- Inflight magazines are not dead yet: The Weekly Wrap–5 June 2020