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Published on : Friday, May 6, 2016
Due to a little-publicised new rule introduced last month, tens of thousands of British travellers are turning away their face from business travel flights as well as from holidays to the US this summer.
The rule says that anyone who works without a biometric passport is now ineligible to travel to America without a visa even when they are granted with “Esta”, online permission to visit the US.
As many as 80,000 people possess non-biometric passports who could have flew to the US this summer.
The new “ePassport,” containing an electronic chip with personal data, was introduced in the spring of 2007 which are readily identifiable from the front cover. If it is a rectangle bisected by a horizontal line, with a circle in the middle, then it is biometric passport. The last old-style passports were issued in autumn 2007 and 1.3m such passports are still in use. As just over 6 per cent of all the overseas trips by British citizens are to the US, 80,000 people are at risk of being denied boarding.
The tour operators and airlines have made it clear that passengers are responsible to comply to the updated passport and visa rules. This change was quietly introduced in the ‘Terrorist Travel Prevention Act 2015′. It has now disappointed a lot of travellers that neither the travel industry nor the US authorities have done anything to alert travellers about the new rule. A courtesy email to notify people who had already purchased the tickets in advance could have saved the disappointment.
British Airways confirmed that they would send a reminder email to the customers who would travel to the US recommending to check the right documentation before flying.