Last week, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union by a margin of 1.3 million votes. The world has already seen major impacts from the Brexit decision, including a major drop in the value of the pound, plummeting stock prices, and an instant feeling of regret from a lot of people who voted to leave.
As the United Kingdom goes through the process of leaving the European Union over the next two years, there are likely to be changes that will affect how Americans travel to Europe. The majority of these changes are likely to be seen in the Heathrow airport.
London’s Heathrow airport is a major hub for people traveling to Europe from North and South America. It’s a natural place to have a layover on your way to other European Union countries. For now, travel through Heathrow is actually pretty easy. EU citizens are able to go through a separate line at customs, which makes wait times quite reasonable.
But once Britain is no longer part of the EU, all of those EU citizens will have to go through the same lines that Americans and other non-UK citizens have to wait in. That means that travel through Heathrow could become a much bigger headache for everyone who passes through.
On the positive side, you shouldn’t need any new sort of Europe travel visa now that the UK is leaving the EU. Americans are already able to visit 26 European countries as part of the Schengen Agreement. Most of these countries are part of the EU, but a few aren’t. And the United Kingdom, though it is currently part of the EU, is actually not a Schengen country. However, Americans are able to visit the United Kingdom without obtaining a visa first, and that is unlikely to change following the Brexit enactment.
What’s most likely to happen is that US travelers on their way to Europe will do what they can to avoid Heathrow and other UK airports, particularly if the customs situation is improperly dealt with. It might become much simpler to choose an airport hub in an EU country like France or Spain instead.
Another likely impact is that travel to Europe will be cheaper over the next few years. It’s quite likely that the Brexit decision will cause many Europeans to avoid traveling to the UK. This will cause a dent in the UK tourism industry, which could lead to discounted vacations throughout the nation, as well as in travel destinations favored by British tourists, such as Mallorca and Tuscany.
Indeed, the lower value of the pound has already made it cheaper for Americans to enjoy vacations in the United Kingdom. Personally, we recommend visiting sooner than later in case things get a bit ugly with the withdrawal from the European Union.