According to a report in the Times of India, Indian travellers are unable to take transit flights to the United Kingdom (UK) if they have a stoppage in the EU. According to the report, Indians who do not have a normal/transit Schengen visa are being denied boarding on flights departing India.
The report further stated that Indians planning to travel to the UK on European Union (EU) carriers such as Lufthansa, Air France, and KLM via their hubs in Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, and Amsterdam, respectively, are being denied boarding at the origin in India if they do not have a transit/regular Schengen visa.
This follows the European Union’s decision to require non-EU citizens to have a valid visa in order to fly to the UK on transit flights.
Brexit was the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union on January 31, 2020, at 23:00 GMT. The United Kingdom is the only sovereign country that has quit the EU. Notably, since 1 January 1973, the United Kingdom has been a member of the union and its precursor, the European Communities.
As the Brexit became effective on February 1, 2020, international flights were generally suspended across Europe and, later, in India due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
International flights have been operating under air travel bubble agreements for most of the last two years. Under such agreements, air travel was primarily point-to-point with only a few extremely specific transit stops.
Now, as India resumed the scheduled international flights on March 27, Indian travellers began to experience the impact of the EU’s decision on flights to the UK, with the rule taking effect in January 2021.
Alternative Option to Visit the United Kingdom
Travellers planning to fly from India to the UK on one-stop flights can still do so through places like the Gulf and Switzerland without needing a transit Schengen visa. The alternative option is to fly nonstop with Air India, Vistara, British Airways, or Virgin Atlantic.
Surprisingly, Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, is exempt from this law for its airline Swiss.
Will travellers be refunded if they are denied boarding?
Unfortunately, passengers who are denied boarding may not be eligible for a refund.
An EU airline official told TOI that “Passengers should be aware of the travel restrictions, therefore refunds are dependent on the terms of the ticket purchased.”
While EU carriers like Lufthansa, Air France, and KLM are concerned about losing business, some have sought other governments to bring the issue to the EU’s attention.
For the time being, Passengers flying from India to the UK will have to choose between non-transit flights operated by Air India, Vistara, British Airways, or Virgin Atlantic or flights that stop in either Switzerland (which is exempt from this rule) or a country outside the EU, such as the Gulf countries.
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