Wednesday 18 January 2017

Brussels: Is it safe to travel? What flights and transport are operating?

Brussels travel updates

Published 23/03/2016 | 07:24

Belgium: The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising Irish citizens to
Belgium: The Department of Foreign Affairs is advising Irish citizens to "exercise extreme caution".

Belgium remains on its highest threat level after Tuesday's terrorist attacks. Here are the latest travel updates.

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What's the story?

All public transport was halted and people were told to stay where they were after terrorist explosions in Brussels killed dozens on Tuesday, March 22.

Those restrictions have now been lifted, though Belgium remains on its highest threat alert (4) and citizens are urged to remain vigilant.

Is it safe to travel?

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is advising Irish citizens to "exercise extreme caution" in Belgium, and to closely follow the instructions of local authorities. No restrictions have been placed on travel, however.

Further information can be found at the Belgian Crisis Centre here.

Is the airport open?

Brussels Zaventem Airport is closed to flights up to and including Friday, March 25, according to its Twitter account. Brussels Charleroi is open.

"Because the forensic investigation is still underway, we currently have no access to the building. Until we can assess the damage, it remains unclear when we can resume operations," it said Thursday.

Passengers should contact their airline website for travel updates.

What flights are operating?

All Ryanair flights scheduled to operate to/from Brussels Zaventem up to Tuesday, March 29 will now operate to/from Brussels Charleroi.

Customers booked to fly from Brussels Zaventem during this period should make their way to Charleroi, arriving three hours before their flight to allow for security checks.

Aer Lingus flights between Dublin and Brussels have been cancelled up to and including Friday, March 29. The airline is offering free online refunds or date changes to any passengers with bookings to or from the city between March 24 and April 4.

Ryanair: 0818 30 30 30; ryanair.com

Aer Lingus: 01 886-8989; aerlingus.com

Read more: What happens if my flights are cancelled?

What about metro and trains?

Metro lines 1 & 5 are open with additional security measures (access from 7am to 7pm). A limited number of stations are operating, and the lines have been replaced with an M-bus between Central and Schuman.

Lines 2 & 6 are not operating. Full details, with tram and bus info here.

Railway stations (North, south and central line) re-opened at 4pm Tuesday.

Eurostar (eurostar.co.uk) has resumed its normal services, but passengers are asked to allow an hour for check in due to enhanced security. Free refunds or booking exchanges are available within 60 days.

I’m nervous about travel. Can I get a refund?

No. If you cancel your holiday without the DFA declaring travel to be unsafe, it could be deemed "disinclination to travel". As such, you may have to give up your deposit, pay a cancellation fee or forfeit some or all of the cost.

Some tour operators may decide to offer refunds or alternative destinations as a gesture of goodwill (as in the limited cases offered by Aer Lingus and Eurostar above), but there is no legal obligation for them to do so – and travel insurance providers are not obliged to pay out in cases like this.

Read more: Travel & Terrorism Q&A: What does my travel insurance cover?

Who can I contact if I am worried about someone?

The Belgium Crisis Centre has a number for information - 0032 78 15 17 71 - but it is marked for use only when absolutely necessary. Follow its Twitter updates here.

Brussels Airport emergency contact number is +322 753-7300.

Contact the DFA's Consular Assistance Unit on 01 408-2000.

NB: This article is being updated to reflect developments.

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