After scrambling past midnight to look for flights home, a Port Orange family is expecting to stay in Paris until after the COVID-19 virus travel ban takes place because of soaring ticket prices and full planes.

After scrambling past midnight to look for flights home, a Port Orange family is expecting to be stuck in Paris until after the coronavirus travel ban takes place because of soaring ticket prices and full planes.


Zack and Sarah Simcox said after purchasing tickets over a year in advance, they flew into an empty-looking London with their children, 5-year-old Raelynn and 2-year-old Ryley, on Norwegian Airlines last Saturday.


Since then, they’ve traveled to Paris. They visited the Eiffel Tower and the catacombs and walked through the streets of popular tourist destinations, finding it increasingly easy to take family photos without having to wait in line or wait for the background to be clear of tourists. Zack said they were planning on coming home this Saturday.


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“Last night I heard that (President) Donald Trump was going to do a briefing on the coronavirus so I stayed up until about 2 a.m.,” Zack Simcox said. “I started getting texts and emails from everyone, I started looking for tickets out. Everyone was worried about us getting home.”


Wednesday night, the president announced to the nation he was suspending travel from countries in the European Union to the U.S, excluding the United Kingdom.


The ban goes into effect Friday at midnight.


“Our hearts just dropped when we heard,” said Sarah Simcox. The husband and wife have called Port Orange home for about 10 years.


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Things only got worse when ticket prices soared past the $1,000 mark and planes became fully booked. Zack Simcox tried to speak with multiple airlines, but said they were in “full panic mode.” They weren’t able to get in touch with anyone.


As of Thursday at 8 a.m., one-way flights from Paris to New York through United Airlines ranged from $2,400 to $5,700, according to USA Today. American Airlines flights from Paris to New York ranged from $2,000 to $7,300, and Delta's website showed flights ranging from $2,200 to $5,900.


American Airlines told USA Today on Thursday that they are placing fare caps on flights to tackle this issue. There was already limited seating on most flights due to the spring break holiday.


Since Thursday night, Zack Simcox said things have calmed down. The couple check flights hourly, but they’re determined not to be stressed by the pandemic’s effects on travel.


Zack Simcox owns a small business installing pavers and said he’s scared to come back to work or even turn on his business phone. He said with all the panic about the coronavirus, he doesn’t think people will be worried about backyard patios or driveway improvements.



“If I don’t work, I don’t get paid,” he said in a text. “I expect business will be slow-going when I return until people feel safe and financially comfortable again.”


Sarah Simcox said she’s worried about what’s going to happen when they get home. A 14-day self-quarantine is expected for those working through the process of the travel ban.


“I don’t really know what the protocol is,” she said.


This story originally published to news-journalonline.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.