A young British family are trapped in South Africa after the nation was added to the UK's travel red list over fears of the new Omicron strain of coronavirus.
Returning home from South Africa as planned on Saturday night, was suddenly snatched from the Dickinsons with the suspension of flights to the UK.
Jessica and Michael Dickinson were stumped by Thursday's travel announcement, and with no way back, 33-year-old mum Jessica has described it as a “worst nightmare come true”.
The couple flew out a week ago in what was meant to be a week-long visit to introduce their daughter Amelia-Rose, 16-months-old, to relatives in South Africa, the Mirror reports.
Jessica said: “When the borders opened we thought it was a great opportunity to come and see our family, we’d had a couple deaths in the family, so we thought it was important to make the trip out.
“We moved to the UK and have been here for 10 years, we recently had our daughter and have had no family support raising her. Nobody’s met her, this was an opportunity for them to at least meet her, because people are getting old and you never know when it will be somebody’s last time.”
The family from Surrey were due to return from on Saturday night.
The first they knew about the announcement was when Amelia woke Jessica up crying, and she checked her phone to see messages from a friend about it.
However, as they were due to return on Friday they thought they would be okay to fly home as usual.
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Then they got an email from British Airways saying their flight was cancelled.
“It’s literally just a snowball effect of everything, getting home, my daughter being sick, jobs,” Jessica said.
“My daughter’s also not been very well, she’s had a bad chest infection and I’ve been keen to get her back to the UK to have her looked at so this has really thrown us off.
“In the morning (Friday), we went down for breakfast and we overheard some other Brits talking about how they were all trying to rush off.
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“There were people rushing to get PCR tests and take flights that had like three stay overs. But we can’t do that, we have our daughter.”
Jessica described how they had sat on the phone for hours trying to get through to various airlines to no avail, and even how the British consulate was “useless”.
“Both me and my husband are due to start back at work on Monday, but I don’t have my work laptop and we have to figure out childcare this side, whilst still paying for our nursery that side.
“It’s been relentless.
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“We nearly finalised another flight with Emirates on Tuesday evening, and were ready to pay until it was cancelled.
“We understand we’ll have to do the hotel quarantine but we’re worried about doing it with our daughter and I’m ADHD. I’m worried about what it’s going to be like on the other side. I get that’s what it needs to be like to get back home."
On the journey back they face a bill of thousands because of the government’s actions as they have to book new flights and then pay for hotel quarantine too.
British Airways have set up a dedicated phone line for Brits in South Africa and now Jessica, Michael and Amelia have a flight booked in for the 4th to get them home.
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