AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the war wages on in Israel some Americans are still working to get home.
Shortly after the conflict started, many airlines cancelled flights going in and out of Israel, making it more challenging for some travelers to get home.
“The first week the beaches were full, packed, a lot of people, a lot of families.” said Chris Dunbaugh, who is on vacation in Israel with his wife.
Chris and his wife Faye are staying in Bat Yam, which is about 35 miles north of Gaza. Chris said a week after they arrived that’s when the conflict began and now the beaches that were once packed are now empty.
“On Saturday at 6 a.m. we heard the sirens,” Chris said.
Chris and Faye tell KXAN they witnessed a missile hit the the Mediterranean Sea, which is just across the street from where they are staying.
“IDF boats and the police boats came all around it and they circled all around there,” Faye said. “We have had missiles over our head every day.”
Shortly after the conflict started, their options to get home became limited.
“Once this happened all the airlines canceled,” Chris said. “They got all their flights out.”
American airlines has temporarily halted flights in and out of Tel Aviv until Dec. 4.
“American continues to help those in need of travel from Israel to the U.S. We have upgraded our aircraft flying from Athens to JFK from a Boeing 777-200 to a 777-300, offering more seats back to the U.S. Together with our oneworld partners, we are assisting customers exiting Israel to European cities with service to the U.S. We will continue to coordinate with the U.S. Department of State on additional capacity needs. Our travel alert remains in place providing additional flexibility to customers whose travel plans are impacted.”-American Airlines
Delta Airlines has stopped flights in and out of Israel until Nov. 1. The airline is currently monitoring the situation, but has been picking up passengers in Athens.
Delta has added direct flights from Athens to New York in support of repatriation efforts by the U.S. Department of State.
The Dunbaughs flew in on Delta, but had to call other airlines to get out. They were able to get a flight on El Al Israel airlines on Oct. 24 to Athens, but it was not an easy process. Chris said any time a flight was posted, it would fill up quick.
“Within 10 to 15 minutes the whole airplane would be booked up,” he said.
Once in Athens, they will hop on a Delta flight home.
The Dunbaughs tell KXAN they are worried the conflict could escalate in the coming days and weeks and wanted to get home sooner than originally planned.
“It could go one way or it could go the other,” Faye said. “We don’t have a clue, so the best thing for us to do is make our way back home.”
The U.S. said it would arrange charter flights for Americans stuck in Israel.
According the the State Department, passengers on these charter flights are required to sign an evacuee manifest and promissory note prior to departure. Evacuees are obligated to repay the cost of their transportation.
The Dunbaughs said they did reach out to the U.S. Embassy in Israel about getting home shortly after the conflict started, but now they have flights booked through El Al Israel Airlines.