This question comes immediately after reading this hot network question.

I have currently no reason to think, neither I have ever checked, to be I am on US No-Fly list, which, according to the linked question, applies also to flights transiting above the United States.

I am currently planning an expensive trip to Canada from Europe, but haven't yet purchased the tickets. Actually, I also know that Canada and Unites States share ESTA/eTA information so it might not necessarily be any sort of problem with the trip.

Since the trip is particularly expensive for me, I would avoid any sort of bureaucratic problem that may lead to denied boarding or rejection at the border.

However, reading the other QA makes me extremely concerned because the OP was informed of their presence in No-Fly list only at the gate

Cost thousands of dollars hundreds of hours and and months in moral and mental pain.

Considering that sometimes people are refused boarding based on name mismatch and while redress inquiries do exist, I am still concerned about the possibility to lose thousands of euros, which are not a joke according to my wealth status.


Suppose that for some reason unknown to me I am denied flying over/to the USA.

Since according to European travel laws the carrier is obligated to protect passenger from denied boarding, if I happen to book a flight that journeys above the territory of the US (something a consumer cannot easily find out and it's not his duty to find) and I happen to be for whatever reason on a US No-Fly List, and I am revealed such information only at the gate,

Is the airline obligated to reroute or compensate me for denied boarding according to EU rules (EU261)?

I repeat:

  • I have not yet intention to visit the US, maybe in the future
  • I have no record or clue indicating I could be denied flying
  • The total cost of the trip is absolutely worth being over-concerned


I tried to do some research on my own

This article provides a lot of guidance. In particular, I focus on:

You won’t be entitled to compensation in the following cases as well:

  • You created or represented a health, safety or security concern

Being on a No-Fly list is surely a safety concern, but that concern is enforced by a third party national authority that does not have anything to do with my trip or the airline. The US has the right to put a ban to any people objectively deemed as a security threat, but also to people that may be unwanted because of political reasons (e.g. non-violent activists).

  • 1
    Being on the no-fly list falls under "You represented a security concern". Commented Mar 4, 2019 at 22:42
  • @DJClayworth do you have evidence on that? How can a no-fly list regulated by a second country be proof of a security concern regarding the passenger? If he was traveling domestically, he would no longer be a security concern?
    – gstorto
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 0:50
  • I didn't say it was proof, and nor does the article say it needs proof. Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 1:25
  • 1
    Not a full answer, but... Presuming you're from a VWP country, just apply for an ESTA (even if you have no intention of going to the US). If it's approved, you're not on a no-fly list.
    – Doc
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 2:54
  • 1
    I don't think Canada and the US share eTA/ESTA information. They do share information about people crossing the land border. And flights to Canada that poss through US airspace have to send manifests to the US, but that's a requirement placed on the carrier by the US government. Canada has nothing to do with it apart from being adjacent to the US.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 3:58

1 Answer 1


Your question seems very wide-ranging, so let me try to address what is in it, including the direct questions you ask.

The no-fly list is not very large, compared with the number of people who fly in North America. The chances of you being on it by accident are very small. Of course if you know some reason why you might be on it other than by accident that's a different matter.

Flying to Canada involves you getting either a visa or an eTA. It's unlikely that you will be granted either of those if you are on the no-fly list, so if you successfully get issued one you can probably stop worrying. Canada and the US exchange security information, so if the US considers you a security threat you will probably be denied a Canadian visa.

If it somehow happens that you get the visa, while still being on the no-fly list, and you are denied boarding at the gate, then you are not going to get any compensation. Compensation is not paid if you represent a security concern, as you saw in the article. Note that it does not say "a valid security concern" or "proven to be a security concern". The mere fact that a government is "concerned" is enough reason for the airline to deny you boarding (again, remember that this is all incredibly unlikely). And airline contracts pretty much always have clauses that exclude 'government action' from the things they will take responsibility for. The airline has no say in whether they board you or not. If they have been told that you cannot fly, then if they let you board then the plane can be denied entry to US airspace. Since they have no control, they are not liable.

As I said at the top, if you have an eTA then it is extremely unlikely that you are on the no fly list. If you wish to be even more certain, then apply for a visa, even if you qualify for eTA. Better yet, apply for a US visa, even if you don't intend to use it. The US is not going to grant a visa to someone they consider a security risk.

And finally there are routes you can take to get to Canada without flying over US airspace. They are complex and roundabout but they do exist.

  • 3
    "The US is not going to grant a visa to someone they consider a security risk." - Your confidence in my government's competence greatly exceeds mine. CBP is under DHS, but the no-fly list is maintained by TSC, which is under the FBI. These agencies have historically had problems sharing information with one another.
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 2:58
  • 1
    @Kevin CBP does not grant visas, nor does any other branch of DHS. The State Department does that. And it doesn't take much competence to require that all visa applicants be cleared against the FBI's no-fly list. Database lookups are trivial these days, and automating them is also trivial. There are several database lookups that must be done before granting a visa; the no-fly list is just one of them.
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 5:08
  • 1
    @phoog: Actually, that makes things worse. The no-fly list is classified and intended for the specific purpose of aviation security. DHS is at least vaguely related to aviation security (and they run TRIP, so they have a specific reason to be looking at no-fly). But the State Department has nothing to do with it. They do consular services and diplomacy.
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 6:48
  • 1
    @Kevin Believing that every department sticks strictly and rigidly to only the exact resources and duties it is assigned? Your confidence in the competence of your government exceeds mine. Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 12:49
  • @Kevin exactly: they do consular services, one of which is issuing visas. That requires administering a portion of the immigration and nationality act. They have to consider all grounds of inadmissibility, not just those related to aviation security or terrorism. (DJClayworth: in other words, these are precisely among the State Department's assigned duties and resources.)
    – phoog
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 14:21

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