The Omicron version of Covid causes Omicron passengers to run for their lives

Russell Hotten
BBC News Business Reporter

Image source, Alex Clarke
Image caption

Alex Clarke was able to find a South African flight, but the UK quarantine hotel rooms are already full

Airlines and travellers are having trouble arranging their travel plans after the Covid restrictions caused chaos in the UK for many who were trying to fly home.

The lack of information regarding returning to “red-list” countries was criticized by passengers.

One man told BBC that he found South African return flights but could not find a hotel for quarantine in Britain.

Alex Clarke (near Reading) said that there was not enough hotel space so he could have to arrange his return.

According to him, “I should’ve landed back in Britain this morning.” Although my flight was cancelled I still managed to get another for Friday. This flight was cancelled.

I found flights to Amsterdam and Dubai, but these have been shut down. My return flight is now booked for Thursday. However, the site that book quarantine hotels states everything is already booked.

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South Africa was the first to report Omicron cases of this new Covid variant. The possibility that the Omicron could become more infective and be less susceptible to vaccines raises concerns. Covid rules will be strengthened again.

The UK has now added 10 countries from southern Africa to its travel red list. This includes South Africa, where Clarke remains. Only residents of the UK and Irish countries can enter the UK through these countries.

The government will pay the cost of self-isolation in a hotel approved by the government for up to 10 days.

Clarke was staying at friends’ place while his two children and wife stayed in the UK. He had just returned from a trip to Johannesburg, Cape Town, when he believed he had found an alternate flight. He estimates the extra airline, hotel and UK quarantine costs will be about £4,000.

He claimed that British Airways had not communicated with him regarding the possibility of his returning to the UK.

“In one email from BA, the helpline set up by BA went to a phone centre. The person on the telephone had no idea that the flights to the UK were suspended or cancelled.”

He was directed to BA’s website after he re-telephoned.

Mike Haswell (a Cardiff-based traveler) told BBC that Mike had struggled to get back from Malawi.

He reached Ethiopia after which the Addis Ababa airport staff refused to permit UK citizens to board his flight.

According to Mr Haswell, he was among 30 passengers from the UK who were stuck at the airport 18 hours. They still didn’t know when they would fly.

How can I get a refund?

Cancellation of a flight can result in a complete refund. You have the option to get it cash, or as a gift voucher.

The money should be refunded within 7 days by an airline, but some customers have been able to wait longer.

You should get your package vacation back in full within 14 days.

Learn more

Virgin Atlantic announced that it would fly its first direct flight between Johannesburg and London this Wednesday. Since Friday morning, the airline hasn’t flown out of South Africa.

Heathrow Terminal 4 will be used by all passengers to arrive at Heathrow. It is now being restored as an arrival facility. The new guidelines state that they will be transferred to managed hotel quarantine facilities.

Heathrow spokeswoman said that Terminal 4 will be reopened as an arrivals area for countries listed on the red list. It was scheduled to reopen Wednesday, 1 December. No direct flights will arrive from affected areas in the interim.

In addition to adding additional countries to the UK’s red list of prohibited nations, the government stated that anyone arriving in the UK after Tuesday 30 November will have to undergo a PCR testing within 48 hours. If they do not receive a positive result, they will need to be self-isolated until then.

Willie Walsh is the IATA’s head airline trade organization and was previously the boss at IAG (the group that has BA, Iberia, and Aer Lingus).,The BBC reported that recent developments revealed the need for a risk-based and sensible testing system.

He stated, “I was very disappointed to witness this knee-jerk response by governments to the most recent development.”

These measures are clearly inefficient in the present, but they cause great hardship to people trying to make contact with family and friends. They also do massive damage to the economy and tourism.

Walsh stated that similar restrictions were unsuccessful in preventing a second wave of coronavirus from the UK, after they had been implemented last May. This was because they did not provide any long-term benefit and weren’t the right answer.

He said, “I believe sensible testing regimens that have been proven effective could be implemented which would allow people to travel in a safe environment.”

Tim Alderslade is the Chief Executive of Airlines UK. He also stated that the government can do more.

He said that the situation was rapidly changing and that emergency border restrictions could be reversed as soon as new data becomes available. However, they should only be applied where it will make a significant difference.

“In the interim, we ask ministers for mandatory PCR test free of charge to impacted passengers. Many are currently in the troubling position of only 48 hours to organize additional testing overseas.

Grant Shapps is Transport Secretary TweetThese changes were targeted measures to protect and provide confidence, and would be reviewed every three weeks “to make sure they’re working well”.


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