Travelers who own a booklet of discounted airline tickets known as the Brussels Card can expect to lose their discount at the end of April, because of the changing business relationship between EU member countries and American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.
The new EU travel rules take effect on Tuesday, but they mark the first big change in the security-screening process in a decade, thanks to a regulation agreed to by the EU, United States and other partners. Until then, transit card holders could continue to enjoy discounts of up to 50 percent off airfare to, from or within the EU as long as they turned in their cards or told airlines about the program.
But now, the cards will expire nine months after their purchase.
Brian Townsend, director of travel in Europe for PKF Hospitality Research, said that he understands the reason for the change but doesn’t necessarily support it. The Brussels Pass is a key tool to lure travelers to locations around the globe, and without it, travel executives will need to work to better market other discount fares.
“We will no longer have that” advantage of discount pricing, Townsend said. “There will still be a way to get from one city to another by way of transit card, but with this change there will be less incentive.”
The Brussels Card and an automated system that the airlines use to approve their customers are the only ones of its kind in the United States. It gives holders discounts of $100 to $300 for transatlantic flights between Europe and the United States. There are other programs available to the public and for business travelers that give similar discounts, but in different forms. To establish a transatlantic itinerary for a business trip, it can take up to seven days to receive a discount.
Other ways to save time include the Eurowings Plus program, based in Cologne, Germany, and operated by Lufthansa, or the German-Swiss Passport-to-Flight — an initiative started by Swiss and linked with Deutsche Lufthansa, the German carrier. Both use an automated system to establish itineraries, check luggage, change reservations and select seats.
The new EU regulations also limit the number of times passengers may board a flight without possessing a ticket to one a day. Passengers can check a bag on flights as late as 9:00 p.m. on a Tuesday or 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Passengers must also present a valid passport or visa to board an airline flight in one of the 27 European countries. The United States said earlier this month that it would not share information about citizens with the European Union. Instead, Americans who take an EU passport with at least two episodes of permanent residence in another EU country will be exempted from the rule.
The rules also require airlines to screen passengers for weapons and explosives. The former executive director of the Brussels airport, Pierre-Henri Brand, said last week that the restrictions would have not been necessary had it not been for the arrest of three terrorists at the Brussels airport on Tuesday.
Brussels airport is the EU’s busiest, and it has its own checkpoint with an explosive-detection system.
The new rules will add about 5 to 10 days to the travel times for passengers. The FAA already bans all but pre-checked passengers from taking these trains in the United States. Those who do not meet security screenings cannot board an aircraft.
Airports must have individual security systems. For example, security passes will be required at both the international and domestic terminals at New York’s JFK Airport, to prevent a bombing by a person disguised as a passenger. The pass will identify the holder as either a U.S. citizen or a U.S. resident.
Another U.S. district judge ruled this month that New York City’s police department had illegally detained as many as 13,000 people in 2011 under a program aimed at stopping terrorism. The men had been held on suspicions of links to Somalia’s al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab network.