Spring break typically gives college students time to have fun before they come back to finish the semester. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across globe, however, students with travel plans are unpacking their bags and postponing flights.
Salt Lake Community College student Danyal Chaudhry has been waiting to see his family in Pakistan for six years, but, amid international coronavirus fears, is delaying the trip.
“What influenced our decision to cancel our spring break plans, for the most part, was having to travel through four different airports two different times and exposing ourselves to all the different travelers,” said Chaudhry, noting he and his mother planned to stay in Pakistan with extended family for two weeks.
SLCC student and graphic design major Valeria Severino booked a trip to Spain back in January.
“It’s always been my mom’s dream to travel to Spain,” she said. Severino canceled the trip after the risk of exposing herself to passengers who might have the virus became too scary.
Severino, who attends school on an F-1 visa from Mexico, says she’s worried about being allowed back into the U.S. after traveling abroad.
Canceling the trip also put Severino out the $2,500 she paid in airfare. After contacting Iberia Airlines, Severino says she was told refunds were only being issued for tickets between heavily affected countries like China, South Korea, Italy or Japan. The airline offered an option to change her tickets to another date, but she says that would have cost $1,700.
According to Severino, it’s been a year since she last saw her family in Mexico, and she is unsure when she will be able to see them again.
As of March 15, Spain was added to the list of countries the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put under a level 3 warning which recommends travelers avoid all nonessential trips into the region.
Depending on where spring breakers travel to and from, passengers may be redirected to one of 11 airports to undergo health screening. Based on health and travel history, some level of restrictions on their movements for 14 days can be put in place.