Whether you travel frequently or you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe, you should be aware of how the current Brexit fiasco could possibly affect you.
As of this writing, the United Kingdom (UK) hasn’t hammered out its agreement for exiting the European Union (EU). But the deadline for an agreement, which was earlier in the spring (a reset date from a previous deadline), was reset yet again for October 31, 2019. It’s possible that the deadline might be moved again. It’s also possible that the UK will actually reach an agreement by then. A few hours ago, the House of Lords passed a law that blocks a No Deal Brexit, so apparently that’s off the table. Maybe. And this is the problem. No one across the pond knows what the heck is going to happen, so if you need to book airline tickets to or from or within Europe for this fall, you need to keep this in mind:
Border crossing procedures might change.
While the UK has been a part of the EU, it’s been a fairly simple process to connect to a destination in Europe via London’s Heathrow airport. But since we don’t know when the UK politicians will come to an agreement or what their agreement with the EU will look like or when those changes will go into effect, travelers should just prepare for confusion and long wait times if flying through a UK country en route to or from Europe, or if using the EuroStar to travel between England and France.
If you’re logical, you might say that we shouldn’t need to worry yet because if and when an agreement is ratified, there should be a transition period – and since governments are involved, it would probably be a year- or years-long process. But since there has been minimal logic displayed thus far, all border procedures as we know them could change in an instant.
If you don’t understand how this Brexit situation could affect your travels, here’s an example:
My husband and I plan to attend an event later this year in London. As long as we’re over there, we figure we’d extend our stay by a few days and hop over to Copenhagen for a first-time visit.
We need to fly from the U.S. to London. No problem. The procedures for entry should remain the same. (This involves assuming at least some logic.) But just in case, I’ve allowed a three-hour cushion for clearing Heathrow.
We plan to fly from London to Copenhagen. The current agreements in place within the EU allow airlines to fly freely between the UK and European destinations. If there’s any hiccup, there’s a possibility that these flights could get cancelled.
If we can fly to Copenhagen, we might have quite a wait on our hands to clear customs, immigration and border control if the EU decides to immediately move to hard borders. We’re prepared for a long wait.
Flying home, we had the choice to use our “favorite points” airline, which only had connections through London, or to use our non-favorite points airline and fly home through an EU country. Since a possible continued fiasco could cause a long wait at Heathrow to clear customs and immigration – and none of the layovers were long enough to account for this – we opted to instead fly home from Copenhagen (in an EU country) through Germany (a fellow EU country) to avoid any possible delays or missed flights.
You might think all of this is preposterous and that it’s closer to Dooms Day-like planning than sound, level-headed, experienced traveler planning. But given the preposterous-ness that has occurred thus far, I’m taking all scenarios into account. Therefore, I have travel insurance for cancellation of any portion of the Copenhagen leg of the trip, and we have a back-up travel plan. I’m also keeping my fingers crossed that the politicians in the UK and the EU will come to an agreement on a plan that doesn’t cause any of this chaos I’ve described. (Pretty please?)
If you’re the type who needs to know more about a situation, here’s some additional Brexit info.
Quick note before you check out the links below: When many Americans hear “UK,” they immediately think “England.” The UK consists of four countries: England, Scotland and Wales (the three form Great Britain) and Northern Ireland. Part of the complication in hammering out an agreement just within the UK involves how each of those countries thinks about Brexit and its implications. And if you think that they should all get along because three of them are on the same small island, I learned my lesson 21 years ago when I referred to a UK family member as English. Within a split second, this petite, quiet woman admonished me with, “I. AM. WELSH. I am NOT English.” But maybe there is hope. This family member and I have been extremely close since then, after hashing things out over a bottle of wine. Politicians, take note.
What exactly is BREXIT? Here’s the BBC’s point of view.
This is of course a generalization, but I consider the Dutch to be very mild-mannered folks. If you want their government’s summary of what’s happening with Brexit, here it is.
If you want hour-by-hour updates on what’s happening with Brexit, here you go.
Newsweek featured an in-depth article back in March 2019 about possible effects on travel because of Brexit.