Travel After Brexit

    Travel After Brexit

    How will Brexit affect flights?

    With the Brexit situation currently uncertain, it is impossible to say for sure how flights and travel after Brexit will be affected.

    Should the UK agree a deal with the EU, and have time to pass the required legislation before October 31st, the UK and EU will enter the transition period, and air travellers shouldn’t notice any disruption on Brexit day.

    However, should the UK leave the EU with no deal in place, there is a possibility travellers could face some difficulties.

    UK airlines flying to Europe would need to obtain permission to operate in European countries, and European airlines flying to the UK would need to do the same.

    No one wants to ground flights between the UK and Europe, so the EU has adopted a contingency plan in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This aims to ensure ‘basic connectivity’ for flights between the EU and UK, so long as the UK reciprocates.

    However, this is a bare bones agreement, and temporary. Flights are capped at current numbers, so airlines may have to cancel any new routes that they planned to operate. And airlines who operate codeshare agreements may be affected as UK airlines would no longer be able to operate intra-EU flights.

    While airlines, airports, and governments are promising minimal disruption, we feel it’s important to note this is a complex area. Much of the UK’s aviation legislation is intertwined with EU law. That covers everything from commercial pilot licences, to airline operating licences and airline maintenance and safety certifications. All of which have the potential to impact flights after Brexit.

    Some industry figures such as Ryanair CEO Micheal O’Leary have suggested flights could be grounded for weeks after a no-deal Brexit.

    How will travelling to Europe change after Brexit?

    Should the EU and UK sign the withdrawal agreement, UK citizens travelling to Europe will have no change to the current entry requirements until the end of the transition period. The same will apply to EU citizens travelling to the UK.

    However, should the UK leave with no deal, entry requirements to EU member states may be different to UK visitors. In some cases UK citizens travelling to Europe after Brexit may need up to 15 months validity on their passport to be sure of entry. Requirements will vary by country, so you should check passport validity on GOV.UK.

    There is a possibility that queues may build up if additional passport checks do come into effect. But both the UK and the EU promise they are hiring extra staff to avoid this.

    But travel after Brexit will affect more than just the journey. There are other parts of your holiday experience that will be impacted if the UK leaves without a deal. For example, the European Health Insurance Card, which entitles UK citizens to reduced cost emergency medical treatment in the EU may no longer be valid. You may also need an international driving permit on your UK drivers licence in order to drive in the EU.

    Will Brexit ground flights?

    It’s unlikely that Brexit will ground flights between the UK and EU. But as with many things, the situation is currently uncertain, and hinges on whether or not a deal is agreed.

    If there is no deal agreed, airlines will have to obtain permission to fly between the UK and EU. The EU has adopted a contingency plan to ensure “basic connectivity” in the event of no deal. The UK has said it will reciprocate.

    This should prevent flights being grounded on Brexit day itself, however, the agreement is a bare bones relationship, and is temporary. As it only covers current flights it has the potential to ground flights on new routes airlines planned to start.

    In the event of a no-deal Brexit, you’re likely to see airlines, airports and governments working together to avoid disruption. No-one wants to see flights grounded on or after Brexit Day.

    Will flights be cancelled because of Brexit?

    There’s been some concern that a no-deal Brexit could cause airlines to have to cancel flights. This is because the EU contingency plans, which come into effect if there is a no-deal Brexit, covers only current flights.

    That creates a problem for airlines who have planned to operate new flights in 2019 and 2020 – many of them are already selling tickets for these flights too.

    It’s important to stress that nothing has been decided yet. But if the UK does leave the EU without a deal, airlines may have to seek permission for their new flights between the UK and EU, and if these permissions aren’t granted we may see flights cancelled.

    Should I book flights for after Brexit day?

    Brexit Day is 31st October 2019, and the current situation is uncertain, simply because no deal has been agreed between the UK and EU which will cover what happens after that date.

    UK government advice is that flights should continue to fly. Even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, both the EU and UK are determined to find a way to ensure there is as little disruption to flights as possible.

    However, if you are nervous about the situation, you can avoid booking flights for the days immediately after Brexit, until the implications of the UK leaving the EU have become clear.

    What are airlines doing to prepare for Brexit?

    One of the things that concerns UK airlines is that after Brexit they may no longer be able to operate inter-EU flights. This means that although an airline headquartered in the UK will still be able to fly between the UK and EU, it will no longer have easy access to the much wider range of EU routes. Flying between Paris and Berlin, for example.

    easyJet has already planned for this by moving many of its aircraft to a European subsidy: easyJet Europe. There are rumors that British Airways may do something similar with a Spanish subsidy.

    Airlines continue to sell flights for dates after Brexit on 31st October. However, some airlines, such as Ryanair, have added a Brexit clause to their terms and conditions. This clause says tickets will be invalid if there are flight regulation issue post-Brexit, and tickets will be refunded.

    How will Brexit affect my air passenger rights?

    Your air passenger rights will not be affected by Brexit in the immediate future. Back in June 2018 the UK passed the EU Withdrawal Bill. This copied much EU legislation into UK law, including the current EU laws on air passenger rights.

    That means that passengers whose flights are cancelled, delayed or overbooked would be entitled to the same compensation and assistance as they would when the UK was within the EU.

    Similarly, passengers with reduced mobility will be entitled to the same assistance from airports and airlines.

    Once the UK leaves the EU, updates that the EU make to the regulations will no longer apply to the UK, unless the UK makes the decision to copy them. The UK may also decide to review the laws and make their own changes.

    Will I get compensation if Brexit delays my flight?

    If there are flight disruptions as a result of Brexit, the bad news is that they will not qualify for compensation under EC 261.

    The regulations say that airlines must pay compensation for disruption caused by a situation within their control. Airlines will argue, quite correctly, that Brexit negotiations are something outside of their control.

    However, once the Brexit situation is clarified, airlines must begin preparing to avoid disruptions. And if they fail to plan appropriately for Brexit that is a different situation. Airlines will have to pay compensation if we can prove that they could have planned better to avoid the disruption.

    Will Brexit make flights more expensive?

    Brexit could have an indirect impact on the price of the flights, because of the weak pound. This means that the cost of oil will be more, meaning airlines pay more for fuel and this may be passed on to customers through higher ticket prices.

    What is likely to affect British travellers more is costs abroad. The falling value of the pound means that British currency won’t go as far on your holiday.

    It is also possible that travel insurance will go up in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This is because UK residents may no longer be covered by the EHIC card, which entitles European citizens to free or reduced-price emergency medical treatments. Travel insurance will have to raise tariffs to cover the increased costs in that eventuality.

    Will Brexit affect flights to the USA?

    Surprisingly, Brexit could have affected flights to some destinations outside of Europe, including the USA. That is because the USA is one of 17 non-EU countries where the UK’s air service agreements are covered under EU membership.

    However, the UK government announced in November 2018 that they had made arrangements for an Open Skies treaty with the USA, so transatlantic flights between the two countries should be unaffected no matter what happens during Brexit.

    The UK has also made similar arrangements, or is in the process of making them, with the other 16 nations affected.

    Will Brexit affect flights to non-EU destinations?

    For most destinations outside of Europe, flights post Brexit will not be affected. That is because the UK has bilateral air service agreements with 111 countries, and these will not be impacted by Brexit or EU membership.

    However, there are 17 non-EU countries where the UK’s air service agreements are covered under EU membership.

    To date the UK has secured alternative agreements with 14 of the 17 nations:
    Albania, Canada, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, North Macedonia, Norway, Switzerland, and the USA.

    The UK is currently working to create replacement arrangements with the remaining countries, which should be in place before Brexit day.
    These remaining countries are:
    Bosnia Herzegovina, Brazil, and Serbia.

    Will I need a visa after Brexit if I visit Europe?

    If the UK and EU can agree a deal then the period immediately after Brexit will be a transition period. That will mean no changes to UK and EU entry requirements – for the duration of the transition.

    However, even if there is a no-deal Brexit, the EU has confirmed that the UK will be placed on a list of countries that do not need visas to visit European nations. That’s assuming the UK offers the same right to EU citizens.

    But that will still mean changes for UK passport holders planning to travel to Europe. Currently, they are free to visit and stay as long as they wish, but once the UK leaves the EU, stays will be limited to 90 days in a 180-day period.

    British passports will also be subject to validity checks – some countries may require British passports to be valid for 15 months after the date of entry. And from 2021 British citizens will need to pay €7 to visit Europe under the planned ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System).

    What are Cinderella flights?

    Cinderella flights is the name given to flights scheduled to take off on October 31st when the UK is still part of Europe and be in the air at midnight when the UK has left.

    (Technically the UK leaves Europe at 11pm on the 31st October – so the Cinderella midnight thing doesn’t quite work. But you get the idea.)

    If there is to be any problem with the aviation regulations, these flights will be the first to know of it.

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