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I am a French citizen, legally married to a US citizen. I currently live in Germany while my husband lives in the US.

I was supposed to fly to the US on Sunday (March 15) on a Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to visit my husband in the US for two weeks (until March 30). I am wondering if I can still get on the flight, and whether I should.

It is clear in the presidential proclamation that the travel restriction does not apply to spouses of US citizens. However I wonder how this is enforced. I travel with my French passport and an ESTA (visa waiver), I do not have any spouse visa or anything. Is it the airline who decides to let me on the flight? Or is it up to the immigration officer once I arrive in the US?

I also don't know if the flight is going to be cancelled. As far as the flight status shows, it is not cancelled, but I wouldn't trust that.

To make matters more difficult for myself, I got a United reservation through Chase's travel rewards program for a flight operated by Lufthansa. If the flight is cancelled or I cannot get on it, any idea who I should turn to for reimbursement? So far I have not been able to get a hold of Lufthansa customer service, they must be overloaded. I have not yet tried United or Chase.

Sorry this is such a specific and self-interested question, I just thought some of you might have similar situations or more information to share.

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    Make sure you have a marriage certificate at hand... – jcaron Mar 12 at 12:15
  • @jcaron My husband has the original, I can only show a copy. – sebnonym Mar 12 at 12:25
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    If you can't get a marriage certificate, a birth certificate for a child that shows the name of you and your husband might do, especially if you use the same surname as your husband. – Gerard Ashton Mar 12 at 12:51
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    The copy should be sufficient on such short notice. A photo of your husband holding the copy and his US passport might be better. But I mean "sufficient" only as far as showing that you're married to a US citizen. The extent to which that will actually help you get to the US may still be an open question. – phoog Mar 12 at 13:04
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There are still a lot of unknowns at this stage, so it is quite difficult to answer with any degree of certainty.

  • I expect you would need to be able to prove to someone (probably the airline, and then again CBP upon arrival in the US) that you are the spouse of a US citizen. Make sure you have a copy of your marriage certificate or other similar document, as well as a copy of your husband's passport.

  • There is a strong probability that many flights will be cancelled, though as US citizens and their immediate family are still allowed to travel to the US, there should still be a few flights. Which ones will be operating and which ones will be cancelled is the one million dollar question. You'll have to wait for Lufthansa to make a decision, taking into account that this could change quite late.

I expect airlines to get in touch with passengers to:

  • Inform them of these new measures, and the exact details of what documents are required/allowed.

  • Probably ask information so they know which passengers are still able to travel or not, which in turn will let them decide how many flights to keep, and which ones.

Given the surprise announcement, they're probably scrambling to make all of that happen.

If the flight is cancelled, you should be eligible for a refund. You should probably contact Chase at that point.

If the flight is NOT cancelled but you decide not to travel, we enter in the very gray area that the airline is probably not legally required to refund your ticket. They will most probably instead propose rebooking at a later date or the like. The fact that it's an award ticket may change things (is the ticket refundable?). Again, Chase is probably the right point of contact for this.

EDIT

The Lufthansa Group have announced the cancellation of all but 6 flights to/from the US from March 14th:

The Lufthansa Group will continue operating flights from:

  • Frankfurt to Chicago and Newark (New York)
  • Zurich to Chicago and Newark (New York)
  • Vienna to Chicago and from
  • Brussels to Washington

beyond 14 March, thus maintaining at least some air traffic connections to the USA from Europe. The airlines are currently working on an alternative flight schedule for the USA. Passengers will still be able to reach all destinations within the USA via the U.S. hubs and connecting flights served by our partner airline, United Airlines.

All other U.S. flights will be suspended until further notice due to U.S. administration restrictions, including all departures from Munich, Düsseldorf and Geneva. The Lufthansa Group will continue to serve all destinations in Canada until further notice.

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    The first sentence in your first bullet point is incomplete ("you need to be able to someone that you are the spouse") – gerrit Mar 12 at 12:40
  • I wouldn't be so sure about the refund. If a flight is cancelled for reasons not under the airline's control (and a government ban is not under their control) then they aren't usually obliged to refund. – DJClayworth Mar 12 at 12:51
  • @gerrit Indeed, fixed, thanks – jcaron Mar 12 at 13:05
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    @DJClayworth this would probably be quite specific to different jurisdictions, but I expect that in most cases, a cancelled flight would entitle you to a refund whatever the reason for the cancellation. Note also that here the flight would not be cancelled directly because of the ban (it's not a ban on flights, but on some categories of passengers), but indirectly because of a sudden drop in the number of passengers. In the end, it's the airline's decision to cancel those flights. But again, we'll have to wait for more details as the dust settles. – jcaron Mar 12 at 13:08

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