Coronavirus concerns cancel SWFL families’ flight to see military son overseas

A Southwest Florida mother was excited to see her son while he’s serving the U.S. military in Japan. But she received heartbreaking news, learning her flight had been canceled due to concerns regarding the current coronavirus.

We spoke to mother Marci Noegel Saturday, who was hoping to fly overseas to visit her son, Jacob. But she learned her flight out of Southwest Florida International Airport connecting in Shanghai, China before reaching Japan is canceled due to concerns of coronavirus.

“Being a military mom is extremely difficult,” Noegel said. “So, when they leave, you’re kind of leaving with them sort of, but you’re not.”

Noegel says her family was supposed to fly out to Okinawa, Japan in April. But, now, she has no idea when the next time she’ll see her son. This comes after flight booking website JustFly alerted her to their canceled flight out of RSW.

“He tells me I’m his best friend, so we’re very, very close,” Noegel said.

Noegel says her son has been in the military for two years and misses his family. After finding a cancellation notice in her email, Noegel says she called and found out airlines she was planning to travel with will stop all flights to China until June 30.

“Them being away for so long, never knowing when they’re coming home, it’s very hard,” Noegel said.

Coronavirus was worrying travelers we spoke to at RSW over the weekend, as the virus continues to make headlines nationwide.

“Especially with two little ones, I want to make sure I’m sanitizing everything,” Kat Miller said. “I have my Clorax wipes to wipe down the whole area in the plane before we sit down.”

Dr. Gary Palmer is based in Ohio. He told us fears over coronavirus are overly heightened due to the unknown.

“I think we’re a little bit overreacting because we don’t understand it,” Palmer said.

Still, he said taking the steps to prevent an outbreak in the United States is important.

“I think our country’s done a good job, the CDC, taking every precaution,” Palmer said. “I don’t think there’s a reason for us as a country to fear.”

The Noegel family says JustFly gave them a full refund. But, with flight prices and work schedules, Noegel says she and her family won’t be able to reschedule the visit anytime soon.

“I’m really upset,” Noegel said. “We were really looking forward to going, not only seeing him but an adventure for our family going to Okinawa. It’s smart to take some measures to keep yourself healthy and safe, but this has gotten out of control.”

Noegel says she and her family are ready for their next opportunity to visit their son.

“I’m very hopeful we will get to go over there eventually,” Noegel said.

Reporter:Gina Tomlinson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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