Travel chaos: numbers returning to US hit record high as Trump travel ban hits US

Airlines have hit the ball and are returning the droves of passengers they have cancelled due to Donald Trump’s travel ban

The number of airline passengers from America hitting the roads and airports of the rest of the world since Donald Trump’s election is expected to soar in the coming days.

The US president’s restrictions on citizens travelling from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen caused chaos after he issued a White House memorandum barring arrivals from the nations until the end of 180 days.

And airlines face back-to-back travel bans by the European Commission on flights into the US for at least the next week.

Meanwhile, Southwest Airlines announced on Wednesday that it had returned 818 customers to the US since the ban came into effect.

Speaking on behalf of the airline, spokesman Brad Hawkins said: “We are continuing to receive hundreds of calls each day from customers that have booked their flights to and from the US.

“Our reservation department has worked hard to expedite the process. Many US Airways travelers encountered similar delays and cancellations of flights, which affected about an 8% of our customers who were traveling to the US from nine airports including the UK.”

Hawkins did not elaborate on how many airlines and passengers have lost flights in the way of baggage, not showing up for flights or being turned away from foreign airports.

But he did say: “There have been no significant delays, cancellations or the reassignments of crews because of the presidential memorandum.”

Fifty flights each day originate from Manchester or London Heathrow to New York’s LaGuardia or Newark airports, FlightAware said. The average delay for such flights is about five hours, the website said.

An analysis by Forbes quoted analysis of US Customs and Border Protection records and found that in the week of Trump’s election, the number of trips to the US by passengers from the eight countries jumped by over two-thirds in the week after the official election result.

The week before the election saw an average of 43,000 passengers arrive from Britain in the US on six airlines, while the week after a total of 83,000 passengers arrived. In the week immediately following the vote, it was a difference of 43,500.

Airlines have hit the ball and are returning the droves of passengers they have cancelled due to Trump’s travel ban.

A British Airways spokeswoman said: “British Airways has seen a very small number of customers who were scheduled to travel from the eight countries impacted by the recent immigration restrictions arrive in the UK from the US. However, we have never operated any flights from these airports to the UK.

“Customers who have flown from these airports will not receive any further refund. If they check in by phone, they will be asked to validate their passport and will be sent a personal letter to process their refund.

“Customers with onward bookings will be advised how they can access their payment, and any further delays caused by the confirmation process will be dealt with by our customer service team.”

Two Emirates Airline flights to New York on Tuesday landed a few minutes early at New York-JFK airport because some British passengers were in transit.

The airline did not say how many passengers were on the flights but they later departed for Dubai, a Dubai-based carrier.

An Emirates statement said: “Emirates has not operated services to the US from the eight countries since the inception of the previous US administration in 2016. Emirates apologises to any customers who had been scheduled to travel to the US during the stated date that have had to adjust their travel arrangements.”

British Airways, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic Airways would not comment on the situation when contacted.

Websites that track customer data – with Cambridge Analytica at the heart of the story – allowed the Guardian to investigate how people were affected by the bans.

Employees in Microsoft and Google who were affected by the ban said they were shocked and affected.

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