Lowenstein Sandler partner Brooke Gillar and her family, who were stranded in Guatemala for a week after the country closed its borders to stem spread of the coronavirus, finally made it back to their home in New Jersey on Tuesday.
“We are so relieved to be home,” Gillar said, after a day and a half of travel that included a flight from Guatemala to Miami on Monday, and a second flight to Newark, New Jersey, on Tuesday.
Gillar, a mergers and acquisitions partner in New Jersey, traveled to Guatemala for a family destination wedding March 11 along with her husband, their three children, her parents and his parents. They were booked on a return flight March 18 but became stranded in Guatemala after the country closed its borders March 17, stopping flights.
The lawyer was able to book seats on an Eastern Airlines “relief” flight that was scheduled to take off from Guatemala City at 11 a.m. Monday. They arrived at the airport at 7 a.m. and spent hours in line outside with about 240 other anxious U.S. citizens. The flight took off about five hours after its scheduled departure, she said.
That flight landed at Miami International Airport too late for the family to catch the last flight out to Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday night, so they stayed at the airport hotel and took an early morning flight to Newark.
In Guatemala, they were subjected to health checks before they could board the flight, but not in Miami, Gillar said. She said passengers were anxious until the flight lifted off the runway in Guatemala.
“We’ve never been so happy. People were clapping when the plane took off,” she said.
U.S. citizens in several countries are in similar situations due to border closings. Gillar said two Eastern Airlines relief flights took off Monday, along with two charter flights coordinated by the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala.
Gillar said she will be back on the job Wednesday, working remotely.