Ebola fear not impacting travel

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) –  “Don’t panic!” are the words of advice to travelers from AAA Public Affairs Specialist Steve Pacer, who handles communications for western and central New York.

“We trust the CDC,” said Pacer. “They say there’s a very low risk for an outbreak in the U.S. So we listen to their concerns and try to assure (our clients) that their trip will probably be ok.”

At the AAA headquarters in Amherst, Maria and Tibor Csapo were planning to book a flight to their native Hungary. They both feel differently about the chances of being exposed to the Ebola virus while traveling.

“I’m not afraid. Not even a concern,” says Tibor, “Because it’s far away from us. Started in Africa. We’re going in a different direction.”

Maria is very concerned about even a remote chance of picking up the virus while traveling internationally.  “(It) troubles me that there’s no help, no cure,” she said.

While AAA continues to urge its clients to take out travel insurance, News 4 has learned that a fear of contracting the Ebola virus is not considered by the insurance companies as a valid reason to cancel a trip.  The main reasons continue to be a personal illness, injury, or death in the family.

It appears that travelers are sticking to their vacation plans. A Triple A agent said she only handled one fear-related case.  A mother postponed her flight to Texas to visit her son.

At the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, Lil Martin, who had just flown in from Dallas, said it is unfortunate that some people are driven by fear.  “I’m sure if there was already one cancellation today, it’s probably going to grow,” she said.

She is not worried about being exposed to Ebola, but she says the crisis has hit a little too close to home because the first known cases were in her city.  “I think we need to be careful, for sure, do our research, and take care of each other,” she said.

Travelers appear to be more vigilant.  Tatiana Montenegro had her sanitizer bottle within hand’s reach. She travels on planes and cruise ships all over the world, representing a major jewelry manufacturer.

“You never know who you are flying next to” she said, “But I also feel like we need to move on with our lives, so I take the normal precautions.”

Mollie Jones, preparing to board a plane to Portland, said “It’ll be in the back of my mind, but obviously I’m not too concerned. I’m still traveling.  I would have cancelled my plans if I was super freaked-out.”

“The last thing we want to see is somebody cancel their trip on an unfounded fear,” Pacer said. “People spend weeks, months, years planning for a vacation.  We want them to have a good time, and at this point, it looks like most people will.”

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