British passengers are stopped from boarding flights to the States after US visa website crashes following ‘update’
- UK passengers wanting to stay in US visa-free for up to 90 days need an ESTA
- 37 countries have an ESTA arrangement with USA and can apply online
- But website upgrade on Saturday wouldn’t let Britons process applications
- Error message reads: ‘Performing routine maintenance check back later’
- ****Have you missed your flight because of the crash? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02036151637****
British passengers were stopped from boarding flights to the United States after the USA visa website crashed due to a system update.
Britons are allowed to stay in the USA for up to 90 days without a visa, providing they apply for a special permit called an ESTA before they travel.
But the website crashed after officials decided to ‘modernise’ the website on Saturday leaving travellers unable to process their applications.
Some have missed flights after being repeatedly confronted with an error message and failing to get their ESTA in time.
The USA’s ESTA website crashed after officials decided to ‘modernise’ the website on Saturday leaving travellers unable to process their applications
Social media was awash with anxious travellers worried they would not be able to fly
Will Hall tweeted yesterday desperate to know when the website would be up and running again after missing his plane to America.
Have you missed your flight because of the crash?
****Email email@example.com or call 02036151637****
He posted: ‘Any idea when #ESTA applications will be back to normal after the failed website upgrade over the weekend?
‘We’ve already missed a flight because of this. (hint: don’t do software upgrades on a Friday.’
Jess Lipson, 43, of west London, had to cancel her Virgin flight to Los Angeles for a week-long trip to visit a friend for Thanksgiving on Thursday.
She told The Times: ‘I was due to see my best friend, had taken time off work and arranged for the children to stay with the grandparents so it is very upsetting. I’ve also had to pay £150 to change the flight to February and cancel a $300 hotel.’
Some have missed flights after being repeatedly confronted with an error message and failing to get their ESTA in time
Someone else posted on Twitter: ‘Just worried that I am due to fly tomorrow morning and given that the official website hasn’t been working for the last few days I would pay a little more to ensure that I can get an ESTA.
What is an ESTA?
ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
It is a visa-waiver programme available for citizens of 37 countries that allows them to stay in the USA for 90-days without an official visa.
ESTA applications can be completed online and take around 15 to 20 minutes.
Officials advise leaving at least 72 hours for ESTAs to be processed but they have been known to be approved quicker.
The countries eligible for ESTAs are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Holland, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
‘But don’t know if they are legit or a scam.’
Others took to social media imploring the UK US embassy and consumer experts to help them get an ESTA in time.
There are 36 other countries signed up to America’s ESTA scheme, which means others across the globe will have been turned away from their flights.
ESTAs can usually be processed in a matter of hours as they are not visas, with passengers often leaving applications to the last minute because of the speedy turnaround.
A spokesman for US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) told The Times, passengers unable to make their flights can claim compensation: ‘CBP has for many years recommended that prospective travellers complete the online Esta form at least 72 hours in advance of travel to ensure sufficient time for processing.’
MailOnline has contacted the UK US embassy for comment.
Have you missed your flight because of the crash? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02036151637