US Requires 6 Percent of West African Passengers Traveling to U.S. to Re-Route to Stop Ebola

For those clamoring for a travel ban, the U.S. has ordered that passengers coming from 3 West African countries are only allowed to enter via five airports.

Passengers coming from Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea may only enter the U.S. at New York JFK, Newark, Washington Dulles, Atlanta, and Chicago O’Hare.

Those are the airports where $19 an hour EMTs will look for Ebola as passengers turn up.

And that’s where 94% of those passengers are flying through anyway.

So 6% of passengers coming from those 3 West African nations, who might have planned to, say, fly via some European city to Boston, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Denver, San Francisco, or Seattle will have to re-route.

A travel ban is both unnecessary and likely ineffective, but politically it is sometimes helpful to “do something” and this, indeed, technically qualifies as “something.”

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, 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 new travel rule will surely do us some (if any) good. This is the closest thing to a travel ban (agree) IMHO. Too bad u r not a proponent of the travel ban. Wonder why…..could it be because it is the politically correct thing to do or perhaps a lack of common sense, maybe?

  2. Emmanuel, you are an idiot!
    A travel ban does not make any sense and your version of common sense is part of the fear mongering.

  3. Dave, no need for name calling. The reality of the situation calls for certain measures. It’s either an outright travel ban (which is drastic in my opinion) or this. I will take the latter for the moment, and Gary, the amount these EMTs are paid is irrelevant so don’t call it out with a hint of sarcasm.

  4. Anyone familiar with the disease can tell you that the situation calls for certain measures. They will also tell you that a ban on travel or this entry ban, aren’t one of them.

    You want to stop Ebola? Send money and doctors to West Africa like MSF has been begging for since March. This outbreak exists because nobody listened to the cries for help until the American doctor caught it in July. Don’t believe me? Go read the old Disease Outbreak News on, every 3 days since March they’ve been saying they need help.

    If America, or any other country, wants to help they should just provide what the doctors that deal with this every outbreak are asking for, you know, like all the private individuals (Gates, Zuckerman, etc..) are doing. Absolutely nothing you do in North America will have any impact on solving the Ebola crisis or preventing more Ebola patients from popping up around the world. OTOH, a plan with no scientific backing works for the TSA, so I’m sure it’ll work just as well here.

  5. Yes Dave, am an Idiot indeed – a smart common sense Idiot. Unlike the fool that u r, I don’t drink the cool aid that u drink.

  6. For a country separated from the world by two oceans and only 2 connected neighbors, we are quite the freak out artists.

    Our kids get massacred in schools and in the streets and you see people actually strap on guns and walk into coffee shops and retailers to protect their supposed right to have unfettered access to guns. Two transmissions of a disease probably by virtue of misfortune or poor protocols and suddenly we are ready to isolate and stigmatize whole nations and regions. It boggles the mind and is not rational, while also being both bad policy and a waste of money.

    This behavior is only going to continue to underpin how we suffer a self-inflicted wound to all the goodwill and soft power the US has garnered since WWII, that also underwrites our very comfortable way of life.the way Brazil treats visiting US citizens is going to become more and more the reality in response to our own harsh and insular treatment of foreign visitors. While everyone (save of course the Brits and Aussies) works to liberalize travel and consequently commerce we are building fences and ostracizing whole countries. More than any other country our way of life and global standing is reliant on open borders, trade and interconnected countries, all facilitated by the almighty US$, and it seems we are determined to kill that

    Those advocating travel bans believe the hammer is necessary where the scalpel is more appropriate and it’s this mentality that has a lot of kids of Liberian descent unable to go to school because they are been bullied and tormented as Ebola carriers.

    I haven’t even addressed the cost of this airport screening. I could shave 90% off this by doing what should’ve been done at the outset! help the affected country govts, including setting up screening facilities at their airports and other border crossings. Cost way less than doing it at 5 US airports and more likely to succeed in limiting global spread of the virus.

  7. We need to have a temporary travel ban for all passengers who have been to those countries, in the last three months , regardless of nationality.

  8. It’s quite simple. “Attention: Due to Ebola outbreak, citizens of the following countries will not be permitted to travel to the United States: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. If your country of origin is Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone you will be prohibited from travelling into the United States.”

    Just common sense.

  9. “Attention: All persons who are from or who have ancestors from central Africa will not be permitted to remain in the United States.”

    Common sense says listen to the experts, as @Ryan pointed out.

    Want to stop ebola permanently? You’ve had 30 years to fund research, but it’s never too late to start.

  10. I’m sorry, but you people don’t know what you’re talking about.

    How much money has been wasted, how many people have been put into fear for their lives because they were exposed to Ebola, because we’re handing out tourist visas to people from West Africa, like Thomas Duncan?

    Why don’t you go tell those two nurses with Ebola that “a travel ban isn’t necessary.” I’m sure they’ll be really impressed.

    The ONLY reason why we don’t have such a ban is politics. Go tell Senegal and Nigeria that you don’t need to close your borders to people who might have Ebola. They’ll laugh at you.

    Note, both those countries are now Ebola free, unlike the US. Both those countries shut their borders to people from West Africa. As has most of the rest of Africa.

    Because they’re more interested in saving their citizens lives, than they are in idiotic political posturing.

  11. I’m sorry to say but a ban like this isn’t going to work. The government need a reality check. A person with Ebola setting foot on the plane can go through security without the “beep”. What about no symptoms while at the airport? And if the person is already sick , wouldn’t they have pass it onto other passengers? 1=200?. You can’t even cure it like the common cold. Ebola needs to be where it originate until we have more knowledge about the disease? This is serious. Once it spreads, it will be tough to contain. Just my common sense!

  12. Nonsense. Isolation is a practical measure and should be used. @james, typical – Throw money at something and hope it sticks, but ITS OK TO ALLOW PEOPLE FROM EBOLA-RIDDEN COUNTRIES TO ENTER THE US. If I’m not mistaken, we already tried that, and he wound up in Dallas. Now a nurse has it. Wake up.

  13. I’m more concerned about the spelling errors in the post. Liberea? likehly? Why does the blogger ignore the red underlines that tell him he has typos? What kind of role model are you for the youth? Sigh.

  14. Right, it’s time to enact a travel ban for areas with confirmed cases of Ebola. It’s time to quarantine Texas.

    Just common sense.

  15. Don’t forget people – this is America, the land of the afraid.

    The 5-airports rule is a reaction by morons to make other morons feel safe.

    More Americans were murdered by other Americans while I was typing this sentence than have died of Ebola.

    More Americans will die of the flu this year than people in the Africa will die of Ebola.

  16. The 6% of US-bound passengers needing to be rerouted for US Ebola screening is something like 9 passengers a week (and probably dropping).

  17. @rob – No rob, we are not “afraid.” But there is a concept called a “country” that you don’t understand. A country should take practical measures to PROTECT it’s citizenry. Now I never said once that we shouldn’t help. It’s 100% possible to help them – OVER THERE. DON’T bring it HERE.

    @ Ken – In your own way, you’ve uniquely illustrated the EFFECT. You just don’t understand the CAUSE.

  18. @ kEN – You have articulated the EFFECT. But you still don’t seem to understand the CAUSE.

  19. If a travel was started earlier, mr duncan wouldn’t have brought ebola to the us in the first place. why is protecting your citizens a political issue? all the african nations that closed their borders and stopped air travel i guess are racist? people who follow this political correct( a term I find repulsive)garbage are on a suicide mission, as long as they are exempt personally.

  20. Gary,there is nothing worse than a musician you love spouting off their political views at a concert and ruining the evening and your view of them. I’m afraid that’s what you’ve done here. Your COMMENT was totally unnecessary. You couldn’t help but put your political views into the story instead of just telling us the news.I have enjoyed coming to your site but now I won’t be back. You fail to realize that people on both sides of the isle USED to follow your site. There are plenty of other bloggers out there who don’t force their political views on their readers. That’s where I’ll be.

  21. LOL Jack, nobody forced you to read Gary’s blog. Buh-bye.

    Regarding the EMTs who will look for Ebola as passengers disembark, ummm, what a pointless task. That money could be spent more wisely somewhere else.

    And Rob is right that despite CDC’s extensive influenza surveillance program & annual vaccines, 100 to 1700 people die each year from the flu, which is spread in the same manner as Ebola. Yet the nation is CRAZED with fear of Ebola. How many travel bans are implemented to prevent flu deaths? How many EMTs are scrutinizing passengers for symptoms of flu?

  22. @jack what view do you think I’ve taken here? I’ve always shared what I thought on my blog, but I don’t think this post is especially partisan.

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