Travelers face airport chaos as U.S. tries to implement coronavirus screening

People wait to check in their luggage at Los Angeles International Airport on March 14, 2020.Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP

By NBC News

Those who came to the U.S. from abroad Saturday were met with chaos as new coronavirus screenings snarled airports around the country, forcing travelers into overcrowded lines for hours.

Beth Kander, 38, returned from France to a “madhouse” at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, where she spent about five hours going from line to line. Kander told NBC News Sunday that her flight was only alerted to the screenings about an hour before landing.

“When we were an hour out from landing, the captain made an announcement, and it created a lot of anxiety,” Kander said. “He said you will not be allowed to get off a plane, a U.S. official will board and there will be a coronavirus update.”

O’Hare airport was only one of many airports where passengers returning from abroad were forced into packed lines, antithetical from the call for “social distancing” in an effort to slow the spread coronavirus. Travelers also reported overcrowding at airports in New York City, Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth upon their returns.

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