‘My partner and I were stranded in an island together with thousands of other tourists.’
I’m a Filipino but a permanent resident in Ireland. I travelled to the Philippines with nine friends. It was their first time to visit Southeast Asia.
The trip was great until Manila went into lockdown. Eight of them managed to fly back but my partner and I were stranded on an island together with thousands of other tourists as shown in the photo. It took five days for us to travel to Manila in order for us to take the international flight back to Dublin. We had to camp out of the airport in order to get slot. The entire holiday has been a nightmare.
Gillian Bryan, Yancheng, China: ‘Our flights to Ireland were cancelled and we’re still stranded in China’
Coronavirus: Tension as Flights cancelled and more than a thousand stranded in China
Our return flights to Ireland were cancelled and after a month we’re still stranded in China waiting for our refund. Emirates have a clear coronavirus refund policy, but we unfortunately bought through a Chinese travel site and must apply through them. At this point we’ve almost lost track of their excuses for not refunding us.
They have refused to reschedule our flights. We’ve spoken to four different representatives and they’ve blamed us, their app, Emirates and even their own co-workers. They claimed ignorance to the existence of policy on the Emirates website. After we sent screenshots of the policy, they told us Emirates lied on their website and they have “different policy” that they couldn’t elaborate on or share with us. They have refused me English service after promising it. They are offering us less than half of our refund for no good reason. To such a big company as theirs this is pocket change, but we’re out of work and stuck in China for the time being. The inconsitency between policy and action is frustrating and also really disheartening.
On Wednesday, a state of catastrophe was called nationally in Chile by president Sebastian Pinera. I have been working and living in Chile for six months in the beautiful resort town of Pucon. IN the morning, I made contact with the Irish Embassy in Santiago. Very helpful and informative advice, which stated a lockdown is now in place. It is now essential to leave the country as soon as possible as movement will be severely restricted and a healthcare system which is already dated and under pressure has an impending doomsday. Booking flights is a nightmare, as prices have risen 1,000 per cent to get back to Europe. Some airlines are spontaneously cancelling flights, and flights are disappearing in front of your eyes as you search online.
Surrounded by panicking tourists, a calm collected mind is required. I found a flight from Santiago to Houston Texas, and then from Houston to Newark. The last leg will be Newark to Dublin. Traveling through US Borders and Customs can be painful at the best of times. I found a vehicle that could bring me the nine hour journey to Santiago in a packed Volkswagen, and arrived to the concrete jungle at 3am last night. My new Canadian friend who is driving the rental had to flee Argentina, as all hostels and tourist accommodation were kicking travellers onto the street with nowhere to go.
Argentina is five days ahead of Chile as the situation worsens there due to the large amount of cases of the virus, and things go from bad to extreme. Argentina has now halted all flights in and out, with all of the land borders and national parks closed. I am now in the smoggy Chilean metropolis which is eerily quiet, still edgy from the recent and ongoing protests against the government. Everything in the city is covered in thick graffiti which states in Spanish “death to police” and “death to the government”. I fly on Saturday, as long as Chile does not suspend all flights going out of the country, rumours are spreading, Ireland is still far away.
Rosie Kennedy, Exeter, UK: ‘Our house of six had to clear out quickly with no goodbyes’
I attend the University of Exeter, but my family live in Dublin. I have been keeping a close eye on the news, but was hoping to complete the term in Exeter as planned. All the schools in Ireland were shut down and it was starting to become obvious that the UK were going to have follow suit sooner or later. On Monday 16th we got an email from the university saying they were closing and all students should make plans to travel home. Then ensued a mass exodus of students. I had to book a flight from Bristol airport with Ryanair because Flybe in Exeter airport had gone under the week before.
Our house of six had to clear out quickly with no goodbyes to any of the people I had spent the last three years at university with. As I am a final year student, it has been confirmed that my degree will be finished online. Our graduation in July has been postponed indefinitely. Bristol airport was eerily empty with a handful of tense travellers. Upon arriving in Dublin after passport control I was greeted by HSE workers who gave me a pamphlet of information about Covid-19 and encouragement to self isolate for the next 14 days.