What the President’s travel ban means for air travel

Thanksgiving travel is almost two months away, and Thanksgiving Airlines are trying to figure out what effect President Donald Trump’s travel ban will have on travel between the U.S. and certain Muslim-majority countries. Trump’s travel ban has been blocked by two federal court rulings, but attorneys for Hawaii want a judge to issue a nationwide hold until the case makes its way through appeals. If the court does not act soon, travelers are expected to face delays when flying into U.S. airports in the coming weeks. Here’s the outline of what the President’s travel ban could mean for air travel this fall.

Can’t fly

The initial outline of the travel ban left out Iraq from the list of countries affected, so travelers from Iraq (or Jordan, another country he singled out for a ban on travelers from) could be left out of the later ones. To reach the U.S., they will have to go through the visa process for an extended period, which could prolong the time they are out of the country. The Department of Homeland Security has shown that they can be extremely busy in processing people for visas—622,000 were approved between Jan. 11 and April 27—so it’s entirely possible that the flow of travelers to the U.S. may continue without a significant slowdown. However, the situation may not be as smooth as it seems.

The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a stay on the ban, but it hasn’t been overruled by the Supreme Court yet. If the stay remains in place, it may prolong the wait for travelers from Iraq and other countries. Airlines are considering shifting flights from airports in affected countries, which is one reason travel business executives have warned about delays and increased costs of passenger disruption. Carriers have reported the order to be a headwind to their business, with some lost business and some consumers choosing not to fly. After the initial details were announced in late January, Delta reported it lost a few days’ worth of forward bookings as a result of the orders, along with its financial earnings for the third quarter of 2017.

Can you buy an airline ticket?

Travelers who want to travel during the September to December time frame will likely be able to book trips without facing delays, but future flights could have special restrictions. The executive order, released on March 6, aimed to keep people from seven countries—Syrian, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia—from coming to the U.S. for 90 days. The order also put a 120-day hold on all refugee admissions into the country and a 120-day hold on any other refugee admissions for that same period. After the initial suspension of all refugee travel to the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security tried to identify how the travel ban would affect the travel industry. The department said there were no measurable delays to travel during the six-week window, although it did estimate that travel would cost roughly $9 million due to lost tourism revenue. When they shifted the order last month, they asked a judge to find out the cost of travel disruptions, but the court denied the request.

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