SFO travelers react to worldwide travel alert amid rising political tensions


The State Department issued a Travel Alert Thursday for Americans overseas.

The State Department advised people to exercise increased caution worldwide over the potential for terrorist attacks and violence against Americans.

American Mushka Zarchi just returned to New York from Israel this week.

Zarchi was visiting Israel when Hamas stormed the peaceful music festival.

“I woke up to like a really big thump, and then I heard the sirens,” Zarchi told KTVU. “I never experienced anything like that, so I didn’t know what to do.”

Days later she would book an earlier flight home to get out of the war zone. 

Her brother is Rabbi Shlomi Zarchi of Congregation Chevra Thilim in San Francisco.

“We have a lot of family who are actually going back to Israel right now to serve in the military to be medics,” she said.

While more travelers head overseas, it was business as usual at San Francisco International Airport Thursday, despite the Travel Alert over the risk of terror attacks or violence against Americans.

“It is like a little bit shocking,” Mahesh Vinayagam got the news on his Apple Watch.

SEE ALSO: Chicago-area mother, daughter held hostage by Hamas released

He was worried about the vagueness of the alert with the State Department not naming any particular country or area of concern.

“A little scary, as someone that travels like I was in Singapore two weeks ago.” 

There were no visible signs at SFO to alert passengers boarding international flights.

Most passengers KTVU spoke with Thursday hadn’t even heard about the advisory.

Ritwik Lodhiya of San Francisco was traveling to Portugal with his wife but thought they would be safe.

“Everybody has a heightened level of alert. I feel more secure,” Lodhiya said.

Others didn’t seem concerned.

READ MORE: Muslim mother claims she was verbally harassed, spat at by man in Burlingame

“I hope it doesn’t affect my travel plans,” Sebastian Hlferink of Germany said.

The State Department encourages Americans to join the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program or STEP.

The program provides security updates to Americans traveling abroad.

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