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SWFL man on the hook for additional $1K flight to get home from Europe amid coronavirus restrictions

A Southwest Florida man’s March flight tripled in costs after the U.S. enacted the coronavirus travel restrictions – and no one is taking the blame.

In March, he was returning home from Barcelona when Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, wouldn’t let him board the second leg of his flight because of U.S. travel restrictions.

The American government said people returning from countries like Spain could only enter the US at certain airports.

“I was very scared at that time,” Williams said, “because, to be stranded in Europe.”

One airport Williams could fly into was Miami International, and that new ticket was more than $1,000.

“She said, well, you can either buy the ticket or there are people behind you and they’re going to buy it, so I was really stranded,” Williams explained.

He ultimately bought that ticket hoping they would refund him later, but that didn’t happen.

Norwegian said because the Tampa flight went as scheduled and the Department Homeland Security made the travel restriction decision, they couldn’t take responsibility.

They did, however, refund him a portion of the original ticket price, $130, for a segment of the flight he never took. So he ended up out of pocket about $870.

Homeland Security told us carriers are responsible for identifying passengers subject to restrictions.

Williams tried to dispute the charge with his credit card with no luck.

His message to Norwegian: “I had a contract with Norwegian airline to get from Europe to the United States and they didn’t live up to their end of the contract.”

To look up what restrictions are in place by country, you can visit the U.S. State Department website.

Norwegian full statement:

“We fully understand that there has been a lot of uncertainties due to the significant impact of COVID-19 and we apologize for the difficulties this customer has encountered. The reason why the customer could not fly to Tampa was due to restrictions put in place by Homeland Security on March 13. This restricted customers travelling to certain US airports who had been in a Schengen country within the last 14 days.”

He arrived from Spain the same day so he was not allowed to board the plane to Tampa, even though the flight went as scheduled. He was however allowed to enter Miami. Because this restriction was a decision made by Homeland Security, we could take no responsibility or cover the cost, although we have refunded the unused leg of the ticket from London to Tampa.”

Department of Homeland Security full statement::

“Through the Immigration Advisory Program and Regional Carrier Liaison Groups, CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) assesses electronic passenger information and passenger reservation data to provide air carriers with boarding recommendations, but the carriers are ultimately responsible for identifying passengers subject to current travel restrictions to the United States.”

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