U.S. Government Warns Against International Travel. COME HOME NOW.

On the heels of the confusing statement by the President ostensibly banning flights from Europe other than the U.K. for 30 days, but really banning entry for the next 30 days by non-U.S. residents who have been to the Schengen area of Europe in the past 14 days, the State Department is now warning against all global travel.

The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to reconsider travel abroad due to the global impact of COVID-19. Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit traveler mobility, including quarantines and border restrictions. Even countries, jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not been reported may restrict travel without notice.

While the new policy does not go into effect until Friday at 11:59 p.m., and does not in fact restrict flying between the U.S. and Schengen countries of Europe, large numbers of international flights aren’t going to be sustainable in the face of a ban on entry by most Europeans, and in the face of the government warning against travel on top of United reporting that net bookings (new minus cancellations) for Europe and Asia already down 100%.

Airlines will be adjusting their schedules quickly and removing flights from their schedules and in many cases bringing aircraft and crew home as they ‘scramble’ to understand the implications of administration policy. There’s a non-zero chance Europe retaliates in kind.

My recommendation: Given government policy uncertainty it would be a good idea, if you’re an American traveling abroad, for you to arrange to return home as quickly as possible before it becomes more difficult to do so.

As of this writing there are seats available on U.S.-bound flights. However if that changes consider flying to Canada and connecting, or if flights between the U.S. and Canada become problematic terminating your journey in Canada or Mexico as close to a major border crossing as possible and entering over land, picking up from there with a flight home.

It is not my intention to be alarmist however the latest moves by the U.S. government may be extremely disruptive I’ve been writing for days that my concern about international travel has been getting back. For the most part that concern was related to the possibility of being quarantined wherever I went as the cause of drying up flights rather than U.S. policy however that’s where we seem to be.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This sounds a bit alarmist. Come home now? I, along with millions of Americans, live and work overseas. This virus does not require me stopping everything I am doing and fleeing to the US, which actually has had a far worse outbreak than where I live now.

  2. Jesus so we’re about to suspend all travel across the globe? We’re definitely gonna have a recession.

  3. I dont know. Seems many places in the world (Singapore, Taiwan and, dare I say, Beijing) are now safer than the U.S. The recent story about Tom Hanks underscores how well some countries like Australia have mobilized to deal with the virus and how their populations are taking this seriously. If I were in Taiwan, I would avoid the U.S. like the…em… plague.

  4. Mexico? Travel across land to get into the States? Yikes. I live in Texas and I would be very afraid of trying to get into the United States by traveling through countryside in Mexico because it’s dangerous. Gangs prey on people driving those roads. Great post though. I agree that Americans traveling need to get home to the United States while they still can. It sounds romantic to be stuck in your chosen vacation spot but when you run out of money and have nowhere to stay but you’re not allowed to go home . . .

  5. Cynnils – I agree Singapore, Taiwan, Beijing making real progress – not sure Australia is any bastion. They were in Australia for over a week. Avg incubation is 5 days. As fair a chance they contracted there vs U.S.

    Doctors in Australia call the process a ‘shambles’ and confusing


    The one constant is citizens not thinking governments doing enough.

  6. The insidious thing about the virus is that it is not wholly predictable. Some articles say in some rare cases the incubation period is over 14 days and also some infected people do not present symptoms. So hard to say where you pick it up, from whom and at what time.

    I have friends who are now planning to “evacuate” to Singapore. They worry about the remote possibility that other countries will begin to ban Americans from entering (!)

  7. @GM Your reply is disingenuous. You know Gary is referring to travelers not ex pats. Gary says plenty of things with which to take issue…reserve your snideness for those times.

  8. I take the virus seriously, but am not that concerned about the sickness. Seems like we are all going to catch it at some point, one way or the other. However, the possibility of getting stranded or quarantined somewhere did cause me to cancel my upcoming two overseas work trips this morning, the next one starting this weekend.. Hated to do it, but did not want to get trapped, especially since I was supposed to be connecting on the return through LHR, and I’ve been hearing rumors that the UK may be put off limits as well as the Schengen in the near future.

  9. I’m with GM- I was on tenderhooks all last week during my visit to the Bay Area and Las Vegas. No temperature checks, no one wearing masks, no tests.

    Was very happy to get on the flight back to Singapore on Tuesday. cynnils- don’t know what you are talking about- I don’t know a single person here who is thinking of “evacuating”. Most concerns are around whether they can travel, and specifically whether it’s safe to travel to the States. I say no. I’m trying to convince friends and family to come out here to ride out the outbreak…

  10. I’m planning on going to Japan next month from the US and people keep saying what are you gonna do if you get stuck over there? I hope I get stuck over there I love Japan

  11. @GM give me a break. He said if you are TRAVELING abroad. People living and working overseas are not traveling, so he was not referring to those people at all.

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