Chaos at US airports ahead of Trump’s travel ban

Chaos is unfolding in airports across the country where media members have been kicked out, travelers entering the US complain that they aren’t screened upon landing, and disgruntled Americans pay up to $20,000 to get a last minute ticket home.  

On Wednesday Trump announced he will restrict travel to the US from several European countries in an attempt to contain the spread of the killer coronavirus.

The ban will apply to travelers who have visited 26 countries in the EU’s Schengen border-free area in the last 14 days, but not travelers from the UK or Ireland, or to US citizens, American permanent residents and their immediate family members.

Although Trump’s new measures won’t take effect until Friday at midnight, travelers are still in a frenzy over the confusing new rules.  

Airports across the US turned into ghost towns on Thursday hours after President Donald Trump announced his travel ban to take effect Friday at midnight. Lines were virtually nonexistent at O'Hare International Airport on Thursday in Chicago

Airports across the US turned into ghost towns on Thursday hours after President Donald Trump announced his travel ban to take effect Friday at midnight. Lines were virtually nonexistent at O’Hare International Airport on Thursday in Chicago

John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York was practically empty on Thursday

John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York was practically empty on Thursday

An airline worker stands in the empty international terminal at LAX airport in Los Angeles

An airline worker stands in the empty international terminal at LAX airport in Los Angeles

Empty shops and passenger areas at Newark Airport Terminal B on Thursday

Empty shops and passenger areas at Newark Airport Terminal B on Thursday

International travelers arrive at Terminal D at DFW International Airport in Dallas on Thursday

International travelers arrive at Terminal D at DFW International Airport in Dallas on Thursday

LAX's busy roadways were completely empty on Thursday afternoon

LAX’s busy roadways were completely empty on Thursday afternoon 

On Wednesday the international terminal at Atlanta Airport was practically empty after Trump announced there would be no return flights from Europe for the next month

On Wednesday the international terminal at Atlanta Airport was practically empty after Trump announced there would be no return flights from Europe for the next month

The usually packed and congested security line at LAX airport was empty save for a few stragglers late Wednesday

The usually packed and congested security line at LAX airport was empty save for a few stragglers late Wednesday 

LAX airport is notorious for heavy traffic outside the airport and long, congested wait times for ride share cars. However on Wednesday the streets were empty

LAX airport is notorious for heavy traffic outside the airport and long, congested wait times for ride share cars. However on Wednesday the streets were empty 

Former presidential hopeful Andrew Yang shared a snap of the empty Newark Airport on Thursday

Former presidential hopeful Andrew Yang shared a snap of the empty Newark Airport on Thursday

As of Thursday evening there are over 1,500 cases of coronavirus reported in the US and 39 deaths

As of Thursday evening there are over 1,500 cases of coronavirus reported in the US and 39 deaths

International airports across the country have become eerie ghost towns with few travelers in light of the coronavirus panic.

The case toll in the US hit over 1,500 and the death toll hit over 30 as of Thursday. 

One of DailyMail.com’s photographers was kicked out of John F. Kennedy International Airport on Thursday amid the panic related to the travel ban.

Some American travelers have complained about a lack of safety procedures and caution at airports across the country. 

Mike McIntire tweeted that even though he just returned from Paris, France - a country notably on Trump’s travel ban list - he was not screened upon landing at JFK on Thursday.

‘Just arrived at JFK from Paris. Zero screening, testing or even questions related to coronavirus (and the Global Entry scanner spit out someone else’s entry receipt for me, and the guy behind me got mine, and so on),’ McIntire shared. 

He said the customs process was practically ‘nonexistent’ and he was only asked if he had been to China recently, not other European countries also suffering from the contagious outbreak.  

Mike McIntire tweeted that even though he just returned from Paris, France - a country notably on Trump's travel ban list - he was not screened upon landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Thursday

Mike McIntire tweeted that even though he just returned from Paris, France - a country notably on Trump’s travel ban list - he was not screened upon landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Thursday

This Twitter user noted that they landed in Seattle, Washington from Tokyo, Japan on Wednesday and faced no screening whatsoever

This Twitter user noted that they landed in Seattle, Washington from Tokyo, Japan on Wednesday and faced no screening whatsoever

This Twitter user said friends traveling from Vietnam with a lay over in South Korea and made it through customs with 'incredibly concerning' ease

This Twitter user said friends traveling from Vietnam with a lay over in South Korea and made it through customs with ‘incredibly concerning’ ease

One woman traveled to the West Coast on three connecting flights from Northern Italy, a hot spot of the coronavirus outbreak. Italy as a whole has 12,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 827 related to the virus

One woman traveled to the West Coast on three connecting flights from Northern Italy, a hot spot of the coronavirus outbreak. Italy as a whole has 12,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 827 related to the virus

One person flew from South Korea to Dulles airport in Virginia near Capitol Hill and faced no coronavirus screening. She decided to self-quarantine as a preventative measure

One person flew from South Korea to Dulles airport in Virginia near Capitol Hill and faced no coronavirus screening. She decided to self-quarantine as a preventative measure

This man flew from Europe to Chicago's O'hare international airport and was shocked to find no type of screening for passengers from Europe, despite Trump's warning on the severity of the outbreak there just a day prior

This man flew from Europe to Chicago’s O’hare international airport and was shocked to find no type of screening for passengers from Europe, despite Trump’s warning on the severity of the outbreak there just a day prior

Another Twitter user replied that they landed in Seattle, Washington from Tokyo, Japan on Wednesday and faced no screening whatsoever, despite Washington being an outbreak hotspot in the US and 676 cases reported in Japan.

Another social media user said they had friends traveling from Vietnam with a lay over in South Korea and they made it through customs with ‘incredibly concerning’ ease. 

One woman traveled to the West Coast on three connecting flights from Northern Italy, a hot spot of the coronavirus outbreak. Italy as a whole has 12,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 827 related to the virus. 

COUNTRIES WHOSE PEOPLE ARE BANNED

WHO THE BAN APPLIES TO 

Most foreign nationals who have been in these countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States*

AND WHO IT DOESN’T 

‘Legal permanent residents, (generally) immediate family members of U.S. citizens, and other individuals who are identified in the proclamation.’*

* according to Department of Homeland Security

One Twitter user slammed the lack of screening and health checks at US airports as ‘gross incompetence’. 

Kyle Moukheiber tweeted Thursday: ‘Just flew home from Europe today to Chicago’s Ohare airport. There was absolutely no type of screening for anyone coming in. No information. Nothing. This is gross incompetence. I have no symptoms but will be doing a #SelfQuarantine and others should too.’ 

Passengers arriving in New York were surprised to find that they were not screened or even asked about the disease and some said they were merely handed information cards that directed them to stay home for 14 days and monitor their health.

‘I was nervous, actually, thinking there would be screening, questions, that maybe they’d tell me to self-quarantine for the first week or something,’ Viki Zvolkski, 25, a German national arriving at JFK Thursday night said to DailyMail.com.

‘I thought Trump said he would do that. But none of that happened. Measures have not been implement, I guess. It’s kind of crazy.’

It was an emotional night for many of the new arrivals.

Maya A., a 22-year-old from France who’s been studying fine arts in New York the past six months, cried tears of joy, ran up and hugged her mother Hekma, 49, who was arriving from Paris — a trip that almost never happened because the mom was originally booked for this Saturday.

Maya said she watched Trump’s speech Thursday night and panicked because it meant her mom’s trip would be called off.

‘I cried because my mom and all my family, all my friends are in Europe and many of them were planning to visit me in New York,’ she told DailyMail.com,

‘I miss everyone so much. Luckily, I managed to change my mom’s ticket at the last second,’ she added.

Maya made a welcome sign she crafted with giant pink letters that read, ‘MY MOM.’ Just before Hekma walked in, though, Maya was still anxious, expecting her mom would get at least some scrutiny by airport screeners because of the Coronavirus. More than 2,000 people have tested positive for the virus in France, with 48 deaths reported as of Wednesday.

‘I hope it’s going to be okay, that nobody puts my mom in quarantine,’ she said. ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen. American people get crazy with this Coronavirus.’

But Hekma made it through without even being asked whether she had symptoms.

Jordan Lemons, 21, an American who was studying business at a school in southwestern France, said she watched Trump’s announcement at 2 a.m. Thursday in France. It prompted an immediate call from her dad in Columbus, Ohio.

‘I’ve never seen him panicked before,’ Lemons said. ‘He got on the Delta website and just saw all of the flights (from France) going away. He was like, “we’re going to book the first flight home.” We paid over $3,000 - for a one way flight! And then he’s like, “pack all your stuff.” I had like four suitcases and he’s like, “get to the airport by 10.”‘

She made it, and breezed through customs upon arrival at JFK.

‘I wasn’t screened, but I got a pamphlet,’ she said, presenting a “health alert” card that warned: ‘You have traveled to a country with an outbreak of COVID-19 and are of higher risk.’ 

It advised recipients to, ‘Stay home for the next 14 days and monitor your health. Take your temperature with a thermometer two times a day and watch for symptoms.’

Melissa Kosar, 20, a New Jersey resident enrolled in a foreign study program in Strasbough, France, also received an overnight wake up call Thursday from her mom ordering her to come home.

‘My mom woke me up at like 2 o’clock in the morning, French time, and was like, “I just booked your flight, and you need to get on your flight at like 1:40 p.m.,”‘ Kosar explained.  

McIntire tweeted a picture of the chaos at the Paris-Charles De Gaulle airport where Americans were scrambling to pay as much as $20,000 for last minute flights.

McIntire tweeted a picture of the chaos at the Paris-Charles De Gaulle airport where Americans were scrambling to pay as much as $20,000 for last minute flights. 

Americans stuck abroad are now clamoring to get back to the US before Trump's Europe flight ban starts at the strike of midnight. This Twitter user said Americans at the Frankfurt airport in Germany were 'angry' with Trump for the order that could leave many stranded.

Americans stuck abroad are now clamoring to get back to the US before Trump’s Europe flight ban starts at the strike of midnight. This Twitter user said Americans at the Frankfurt airport in Germany were ‘angry’ with Trump for the order that could leave many stranded.

‘I didn’t think I was leaving at all yesterday and then, right after Trump gave that message, my mom was like, “You’ve got to leave right now.” She said Trump was banning travel to and from Europe. Then we found out later it wasn’t including U.S. citizens. It wasn’t exactly clear. Anyway, I already had the flight and was probably going to have to come home anyway.’

Arriving at JFK, she said, she felt exhausted and disoriented, noting, ‘I still haven’t slept and need a nap.’ But she was happy, if confused, that she was allowed to exit the airport quickly.

‘I was surprised, honestly,’ she said. ‘It was very easy. I was expecting some screening. People were saying, Oh, you might get quarantined when you come back. But I’m not sick at all. I’m happy I didn’t have any issues. Of course, if there are sick people coming in, that’s a problem.’ 

John Sladavic, 75, and his wife Doreen, 72, arrived at about 6 p.m. Thursday on a Delta flight from Paris. They said that airport was mobbed with people who were scrambling to book last second flights to the United States.

‘People were leaving early, so it was packed, and the airport wasn’t prepared for it,’ John Sladavic said. ‘We had to wait almost an hour and a half there just to get through passport control. We met one woman who paid $1,500 for her flight, so she could leave before Saturday.’

Despite the delay, they breezed through customs at JFK.

‘I kept waiting to be tested and it never happened,’ Doreen Sladavic said.

‘But I still feel safe,’ she added, prompting her husband to crack, ‘I’d feel safer if we had a different president.’

Americans stuck abroad are now clamoring to get back to the US before Trump’s Europe flight ban starts at the strike of midnight. 

This Twitter user said Americans at the Frankfurt airport in Germany were ‘angry’ with Trump for the order that could leave many stranded.

‘Americans are expressing huge frustration at Frankfurt airport. Telling me they’re angry with Trump for effectively ordering them home with unclear edicts about border closures. People spent thousands on new tickets and remain unsure when they have to enter US and what happens then,’ Twitter user Richard Engel wrote. 

McIntire also tweeted a picture of the chaos at the Paris-Charles De Gaulle airport where Americans were scrambling to pay as much as $20,000 for last minute flights.