Whilst most travel addicts like myself are experiencing cabin fever because it’s just a pain in the arse to try and go anywhere (even within your own country sometimes), you should check out the story of one of my friends who has had nothing short of a nightmare regarding international travel. This will quash any temptations to travel during the pandemic immediately!
He’s an Australian citizen, but these days he lives in the Philippines. He came out to Australia in February 2020 to do a short stint of work to earn a bit more cash but it’s ended up costing him way more than it’s worth! His ordeal to try and get back home to the Philippines has been ridiculous and comical – but not for him.
If you have the attention span of a goldfish, here is the short story:
In February 2020, he flew out from the Philippines to Australia to do a short term stint of work for a few months.
In June, he tried to fly back to the Philippines via Singapore, but because of a last-minute technical change to an entry requirement, was refused permission to enter (try communicating in a foreign language when both parties are wearing masks).
He was then sent back to Singapore, but because they weren’t letting anyone in, had to fly back to Australia – at his own expense ($AUD 1,200).
And since there is a mandatory 14 day period of hotel quarantine for international arrivals, he then had to sit out two weeks in a hotel room – at his own expense (another $AUD 3,000!).
But there is a happy ending, even though these events were a serious challenge to his mental health. Read on! You won’t want to go anywhere until these crazy COVID-19 capers are over!
Some good reasons why you should avoid travel during the pandemic like the plague!
Check out his story below which are excerpts from his updates. I guess this travel experience falls into the category of ‘great dinner party conversations’.
It’s a great story! Here goes!
22 August 2020: Considering travelling internationally? I suggest you learn from my recent example before attempting it yourself. For those that don’t know, I have been trying to return to my home in the Philippines since the 8th of June. In that time I’ve had 4 flights cancelled. Prior to my most recent attempt, I called the Philippines Embassy in Australia twice, to confirm all requirements, prior to booking another flight.
The first call was to confirm I met all requirements, and the second call was to confirm nothing had changed. Sunday the 16th of June I finally managed to depart Brisbane and fly to Cebu via Singapore, yippee! ?.
On arrival in Cebu I was informed of a change that occurred in recent days, which meant I would not be permitted to enter the Philippines (they now require verification by the Philippines embassy in Australia, that the Philippines issued documents I had with me, were legitimate. They said it was not possible to verify their own documentation in the Philippines ?).
I then had my passport taken off me and taken under police escort back to the plane I arrived on. I was not allowed to call anybody or see any written evidence of the changes they referred to.
I was treated like a criminal from that point on. On arrival back in Singapore, I was placed in a “holding” centre (basically a jail without bars – a story for another day) until the next available flight back to Australia (because I had no legal right to remain in Singapore).
I was then told the next available flight was three days away. The following morning I was informed that the flight was “full” but if I paid for the flight, they may be able to give me priority over others in the same situation, who weren’t paying.
They suggested I try booking myself. I did but the Singapore Airlines (SIA) website also said the flight was fully booked. The SIA staff then said they would “assist” me if they could. They came back and said for $1200 they could get me a flight (which costs usually less than half this). I paid because Option B was to remain in jail indefinitely.
Yesterday I was released from jail and boarded the “full” flight back to Australia. 48 passengers in a 212 seat plane. Lying ……! (See photo of “full” plane and note clusters and gaps).
On my return from overseas (although I’d never left a quarantine box in any airport) I was placed into COVID quarantine for two weeks by the Queensland government, at my expense.
What a nightmare! So my recommendation is if you need to travel, do your homework thoroughly and get everything in writing and check for updates DAILY as authorities/airlines/travel agents may not notify you of changes.
None of these three notified me of this change. Please also note after all the previous flight cancellation dramas, I used a travel agent on the last occasion. They were no help and just charged me a commission on top. I have basically spent a lot of money to fly around in a circle back into a COVID quarantine box. At least I have a new adventure tale to tell! ?