When a widespread outbreak of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 erupted in Italy on February 21, there was an explosion of memes about millennials booking impossibly cheap flights to Europe, regardless of the danger. I was not one of those people. I had booked my flight to Europe one week earlier, when the threat posed by the coronavirus outside of East Asia was seen as practically nonexistent. At the time, I was upset that I had paid Norwegian Air so much for my ticket.
Since the virus took hold in Italy and raged across Europe, the airline clearly has been scrambling. For about 12 hours after Trump announced the travel ban to Europe, its homepage said, “WE KNOW THE U.S. HAS ISSUED A TRAVEL BAN TO EUROPE. PLEASE HAVE PATIENCE WHILE WE UNDERSTAND WHAT THIS MEANS. IF YOU ARE NOT BOOKED TO TRAVEL IN THE NEXT THREE DAYS, WE ASK YOU KINDLY TO CONTACT US AT A LATER DATE.”
So much has happened in the short amount of time since COVID-19 appeared in Italy, it seems as if life as we knew it is breaking down. Although Norwegian is not issuing refunds, I was eventually able to postpone my flight October for free. I hope I will be able to go on my trip, but that depends on how quickly we can control this unprecedented outbreak. In the meantime, it has become clear that I may not even be able to go to restaurants in my own Oakland neighborhood, let alone enjoy a carefree, month-long European adventure.