Friday, March 27 AFS-USA Charter Flight Return Travel Announcement

Friday, March 27 AFS-USA Charter Flight Return Travel Announcement

The following message was sent to AFS Hosted Students from Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland, their host families, and all volunteers:

Dear AFS Host Families and Hosted Students and Volunteers,

As you know, when the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, AFS International, the governing body of 50+ AFS organizations worldwide, made the difficult but necessary decision to end programs early and return students to their families in their home countries. It was not a decision the organization took lightly, but it was a decision we believe to be in the very best interests of our students, especially in the face of such ongoing uncertainty.

The situation is evolving quickly, and we have added some countries to our original departure plan communicated earlier this week.

We are writing today to inform you that arrangements have been made for students from the following countries to return home this coming Friday, March 27: Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Travel is being arranged via a charter flight that will depart from Chicago O’Hare airport to bring students to their home countries.

Students who live too far to be driven to Chicago will fly to Chicago. For those students, AFS-USA is working to arrange domestic flights to Chicago in time for students to make their chartered flight on Friday. NOTE: Based on where the student lives (for example on the West Coast), the student may be required to depart on Thursday night, March 26. Host families and their students will receive an email and a phone call from AFS-USA staff with the travel details for the flight to Chicago, once AFS-USA has arranged the flight.

For those students who live within a several hours’ drive of Chicago, we are asking the host family to please drive the student to Chicago in time for Friday’s flight. We will share the specific flight details (airline, flight time, terminal, etc.) in a follow-up message tomorrow. If a host family is unable to drive their student to Chicago, we are asking that the host family reach out to their AFS volunteer liaison or another volunteer in the team to make arrangements, such as carpooling.

On the day of the student’s departure, we are asking that the host family or volunteer who drives the student to the airport to please remain near the airport until the student’s flight has departed, in case there are any last-minute complications. Students should keep their cell phones on and charged, in case they need to call their host family or AFS volunteer about any travel complications. In the unlikely event that a student arrives at the airport and finds the flight to Chicago is cancelled, they should go to the airline ticket counter and ask them to rebook the ticket.

We understand that this is a very stressful and challenging time for everyone. We are doing everything we can to return students to their families in a way that is thoughtful, deliberate, and cautious and we are working as quickly as possible. We have designated teams of staff working day and night to provide information to students and their host families as soon as we have the information confirmed. We will let you know as soon as we possibly can.

Thank you in advance for your continued patience and understanding during these unprecedented times.

If you have specific questions about your student’s return travel, please contact

Thank you,

Tara M. Hofmann
President & CEO