How much were US citizens charged for international COVID evacuation?
May 11, 2023 10:21 AM   Subscribe

It has come to my attention during the recent crisis in Sudan that being evacuated from a foreign country isn't free. Is there any publicly available information re: the costs of being evacuated by the US during the early days of the COVID pandemic? Were evacuees just charged for their flights, or did they also have to bear the cost of quarantine? This seems like something that would have attracted public interest, but I am dreadful at locating all things civics on the internet.
posted by nanny's striped stocking to Law & Government (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Contract says: "no greater than the amount of a full-fare economy flight, or comparable alternate transportation, to the designated destination(s) that would have been charged immediately prior to the events giving rise to the evacuation." So it would vary by location. Full-fare economy flights aren't the cheapest, but it's not like you'd be being charged $30K for a military flight from Mexico City to Houston.

Looking at this GAO report, less than 50,000 people used either state-chartered or state-owned flights. I bet a lot less, since the biggest category lumps both state and private charters together, though there probably was still some state assistance with coordinating people onto private charters. While those numbers are still much bigger than usual, not that many places saw such a sustained interruption or disruption of commercial air travel as to make it necessary.
posted by praemunire at 11:21 AM on May 11

I don't think there was ever much in the way of enforced quarantines here (in contrast to places like Canada and Australia where people could be made to stay in special hotels at their own expense), other than the times when people were taken to military bases before being released.

There were a lot of articles at the time about people trying to fly back to the US and having to pay extremely high ticket prices on commercial carriers, but I don't know if that was typical or just what made the news.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:38 AM on May 11

Best answer: I remember seeing some news story about a person in this situation, might have been this one

That story's about a man and his small child evacuated from Wuhan who went through a government-mandated quarantine at a hospital and were sent a lot of medical bills (didn't have US health insurance). But it's not clear to me from that if he ultimately had to pay the bills or not. Reading between the lines, it sounds like they were billed by the hospital and not by the military facility (only sent to the hospital when showing possible symptoms).
posted by Gravel at 9:21 PM on May 11

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