Austinites abroad work to get home as travel restrictions begin


AUSTIN (KXAN) — With international travel restrictions set to go into effect at midnight Friday, Austinites overseas are trying their best to get home.

The travel ban doesn’t apply to U.S. citizens, but any citizen coming home will first have to be screened at one of 13 U.S. airports.

That is — if they can get on a flight back.

MORE: Trump travel ban impacts Austin family trying to get home from Germany

Tracy Moody’s daughter was supposed to be on the trip of a lifetime in Italy.

Tracy Moody’s daughter found herself overseas, struggling to get home (KXAN/Avery Travis)

“3 a.m. — I get a call,” says Moody. “‘Mom, my flight is canceled.”

After the travel restrictions were announced, the flight cancellations followed. Moody’s daughter said she called Norwegian Air and was told she’d have to find a different way back.

On Friday evening, the Norwegian Air counter at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport was empty. Moody said she and her daughter both spent hours on the phone with different airlines, travel agents, and even the State Department.

“We are reaching out and asking questions and making phone calls. We are getting nothing. We’re just hitting dead end after dead end,” says Moody.

“Do you mean to tell me, that if they can’t get flights out, their only alternative is to be stuck in Europe for 30 days? What if they don’t have the financial means? What if they can’t find a place to stay?” Moody said.

Late on Friday, Moody got a text from her daughter letting her know she was finally able to get on a flight to New York City.

“When you are a parent and all you want to do is help your child, and you know you can’t, and they are in a foreign country,” Moody said, holding back tears, “that text was gold.”

Travel troubles plagued the latter half of Austinite Jason Perkins’ trip, as well. When he and his sons left for Switzerland, the headlines were just coming out about COVID-19.

Then, as they stayed just 5 miles from the Italian border, they heard Italy went on lockdown.

“One of my boys is in college and is freaking out about missing school,” Perkins said.

Their original itinerary had them landing in Philadelphia, which is not one of the 13 airports considered an approved entry point for Americans returning. Perkins said their airline wasn’t sure what the outcome would be, so he went ahead and proactively changed their flights.

“So, we are flying from here to London in the morning, then hopefully, fingers crossed, from London to the states,” Perkins said. “It’s been a challenge.”

Here’s the list of entry points:

  • Atlanta: Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  • Boston: Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Chicago: Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Detroit: Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)
  • Honolulu: Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL)
  • Los Angeles: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Miami: Miami International Airport (MIA)
  • New York City: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Newark, N.J.: Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • San Francisco: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Seattle: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Washington, D.C.: Washington-Dulles International Airport (IAD)

“I don’t know if there is going to be any extra screening in Zurich, certainly in London,” he said, “but we are going to get there early to try to get through security.”

He said his family is preparing for extra security measures and health screenings, and prepared to quarantine if they need to.

Perkins said he wasn’t able to check-in in advance, but he’s hoping for the best.

“So, I’m not even sure if I’m able to fly tomorrow,” he said. “I’m expecting I will be, but we will get to the airport early and try to take care of all that.”

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