People in Europe have been hiring private jets and paying large sums for last-minute tickets in an attempt to beat Donald Trump’s ban on flights – although many seem to be US citizens confused as to whether they were caught by it.
The suspension, barring arrivals from 26 European countries for 30 days, comes into effect from midnight on Friday.
Miguel Paracuellos, a Spaniard who works in the US, told Reuters at Barajas airport in Madrid on Thursday: “I have had to change my ticket and bring the trip forward because, if not, I would have found the border closed.
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“It is a measure that Trump has taken because as he is inept and has not been able to take any action there, he is somewhat blaming the external enemy, in this case Europe.”
Despite the ban applying only to Europeans from certain countries, many US citizens feared they would not be able to get home because Trump did not initially make clear they were exempt.
The New York Times journalist Mike McIntire said he purchased tickets “that cost more than my monthly mortgage payment” to fly from Paris to the US, before unsuccessfully trying to return them when he discovered the ban did not apply to him.
He said a Delta Air Lines ticket agent at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport told him another American had paid $20,000 (£15,900) for a last-minute flight after Trump’s speech.
Meanwhile, private jet operators reported a spike in bookings. Adam Twidell, the chief executive of the private jet booking service PrivateFly, said there had been a “significant” jump in last-minute bookings from Americans in Europe who were trying to fly back to the US.
He said wealthy US citizens based in Europe also wanted to book travel to the UK because it was so far exempt from the US travel ban. Some hoped to run their European-based businesses from London, Twidell said.