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US travel ban frustrates travellers at Helsinki Airport

US and Finnish passengers at Helsinki Airport were confused and frustrated by President Trump's 30-day travel ban.

Timo and Johanna Kossi found out that their trip to New York was cancelled after they had checked in their luggage at Helsinki Airport. Image: Kristiina Lehto / Yle

The consequences of US President Donald Trump's 30-day travel ban from Europe to the US in a bid to prevent further spread of novel coronavirus is causing confusion at Helsinki Airport.

The ban, which was announced on Wednesday evening, steps into place on Friday at midnight and affects travelers who were planning to fly from Finland to the US between 13 March and 14 April.

Johanna and Timo Kossi from Harjavalta, a town and municipality in Western Finland, expressed their dismay at the situation on Thursday at Helsinki Airport where they had planned to board a flight to New York.

"I don't want to swear, but I'm very irritated," Johanna Kossi said.

The couple had already checked in their luggage when they received a message from their tour operator telling them that the trip was cancelled. But the flight to New York on which they were booked wasn't actually cancelled. The Kossis told Yle that they were left confused and unsure of what to do, especially if their accommodations and return flight to Finland were to also be cancelled.

They had booked their trip to New York to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary six months ago from charter company Finnair Holidays.

Another Finnish traveler, Mari Hänninen from Espoo, was also left pondering whether or not she should head to New York on Finnair's Thursday flight with her friends as they were concerned about how they would get back to home after their trip. In the end, the group of friends decided to get on the plane.

The corona virus is not a reason to avoid travel, Hänninen told Yle.

"I can also catch the corona virus in Finland, and I wash my hands carefully," she said.

American travelers at the airport also told Yle that they had decided to return home earlier than planned because of the travel ban.

Rohit Raju had been visiting Finland to spend time with the person he's dating. The couple would have spent four more days together in Finland together if the ban hadn't been set in place.

Tillman Lewis was flying from Helsinki to Miami and then home to Birmingham, Alabama. His original plan was to leave Finland on Friday via Amsterdam, but he changed his travel plans owing to the new travel restrictions.

"I want to ensure that I get home," Lewis told Yle.

Meanwhile, Finnair, the Finnish national airline, announced Thursday afternoon it is cancelling all flights to the US between 19 March and 12 April due to the US government’s travel restrictions.