Coronavirus: Americans offer upto $20,000 for flight tickets to get back home before Trump's travel ban kicks in
President Trump's ban on travel to the US from 26 European countries has reportedly wreaked havoc at European airports, with Americans scurrying to travel home early fearing being caught up in the ban.
Reports of long lines and confusion at some of Europe's busiest airports emerged as American citizens tried to get more information on the surprise travel ban that even left European officials in total shock, Business Insider reports.
Chaos ensued as it was unclear whether the ban applied to Americans returning home from Europe, and whether they would have to undergo extra checks at the US border, or whether their flights would be canceled indefinitely.
Americans were allegedly paying up to $20,000 for last-minute tickets to the homeland, according to New York Times reporter Mike McIntire, who described the situation at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport as "bedlam."
Meanwhile, NBC News journalist Shannon Ho -- who was about to fly to home from Berlin's Tegel airport when the ban was announced -- spoke to several American citizens embroiled in the confusion.
"One man woke up to his boss at 3 a.m. demanding he come home today instead of his planned Saturday return. A Tesla worker cut their trip short by three weeks when the company told everyone to return to America," she told NBC. "A young man found out about Trump's announcement while out a club in Berlin and essentially left, booked this flight en route to his hostel, and came straight to Tegel."
Airports in Barcelona, Spain also saw long lines of Americans in the early hours of Thursday as they rushed to get home following the announcement. Speaking to the Daily Mail, Minnesota student Michael Bjork said he rushed to the airport to book a flight home after receiving an urgent call from his parents early Thursday morning.
"People started to roll in like a wave. Almost all Americans and lots of students. Some here on spring break like my group and others studying here for the semester," he told the British outlet. "Most people were very confused on what exactly the travel ban meant and honestly we're still a bit confused on the rules," he added.
Trump's bombshell travel ban came as an effort to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus, of which more than 1,300 confirmed cases have been reported on US soil.
However, the White House later clarified that US citizens, as well as legal permanent residents, would be allowed to return to the homeland -- although they may have to undergo screening at certain airports.
The European Union slammed the travel restrictions in a statement Thursday.
"The coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action," it said. "The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation."