No-deal Brexit ‘shouldn’t’ affect flights or Eurostar (but passengers urged to get travel insurance)

Britons looking to travel to and from the EU after Brexit have been told by the British government that a no-deal divorce with Brussels shouldn't affect flights or Eurostar services. But they are also being advised to buy travel insurance just in case.

No-deal Brexit 'shouldn't' affect flights or Eurostar (but passengers urged to get travel insurance)
Photo: AFP

The British government is stepping up its preparations for a no-deal Brexit given uncertainty around whether Prime Minister Theresa May will be able to get her Withdrawal Agreement backed by parliament.

The seemingly increasing prospect of a no-deal Brexit has left Britons in Europe in yet more anxious limbo. As well as their future rights in their adopted countries being up in the air, many have had to delay booking travel arrangements for fear that flights or cross-Channel rail services may by impacted in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

This week the government tried to reassure passengers due to travel between Britain and the EU after March 29th – the day when Britain will officially leave the EU, by publishing a new no-deal notice on the subject.

“UK citizens planning a trip to the EU and EEA before 29th March 2019 do not need to take action. In the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal on 29th March 2019, some things may change for passengers travelling to and within the EU and the EEA,” said the government's no-deal notice.

The government believes that from March 29th “flights should continue as today” mainly “because both the UK and the EU want flights to continue without any disruption”. 

Nevertheless, in a sign that the British government is not totally confident of securing a smooth transition in the skies after Brexit passengers are advised to “check online for the latest travel information” before they leave for the airport.

Passengers are also told that on flights departing from the UK they will have the same rights “as apply today” and EU law will continue to apply for flights to and from the EU.

But again passengers are warned to take the necessary travel insurance and to “check and understand the terms and conditions of their booking”.

Eurostar and Eurotunnel services

For Eurostar and Eurotunnel services that link northern France to the UK the no-deal notice carried no mention that services “should continue as today” like there was for flights.

The government says: “From March 29th 2019, if there is no EU Exit deal, your rights as a rail passenger using either domestic or cross-border rail services will remain unchanged. Passengers on cross-border rail services will continue to be protected by the EU regulation on rail passengers’ rights, which will be brought into UK law.”

But again passengers are warned to “take out appropriate travel insurance” and to check up-to-date departure information before leaving for the station.

It was a similar message for anyone travelling by ferry or coach between the UK and the EU.

However a Eurostar spokesperson told The Local that the company envisages services continuing as normal. Although talks are ongoing Eurostar said passengers are advised to book their tickets as normal.

“At this point in time, we plan and expect to maintain services on the existing basis and timetable following Brexit. We are having constructive conversations with the governments on Brexit and will continue to do so,” said the spokesperson.

“We understand that the government is pursuing bilateral agreements to secure continuity of services, and that such agreements would apply even in the event of a “No Deal” Brexit.

“We are working closely with the governments to make preparations to ensure we continue to operate with this outcome.”

Have your travel plans been affected by the prospect of a no-deal Brexit? Please get in touch at [email protected]


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Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

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The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.