Traveller forced to spend £1,750 on quarantine after ‘incorrect advice’

A traveller returning from Thailand has been forced to spend £1,750 on hotel quarantine after being given the wrong advice from his airline.

By Iain Lynn
Tuesday, 23rd February 2021, 12:43 pm

Simon Kenway, from Blackpool, flew into Heathrow on Sunday evening after spending two weeks, plus a quarantine period, in Thailand.

Thailand is not on the “red list” of banned countries, so all returning passengers should quarantine at home.

However, when Mr Kenway arrived in the UK he was pulled from the “green list” queue and told he had to pay for quarantine in a hotel, because he had taken a connecting flight in Dubai — contrary to what he said Emirates had told him.

Simon Kenway at Heathrow airport

Passengers who do not arrange a quarantine package prior to arrival in England face a penalty of up to £4,000, on top of the quarantine costs, meaning the airline’s advice could have left Mr Kenway with a bill of thousands of pounds.

Mr Kenway was first due to fly to Manchester but told he could not because the airport was not designated for quarantine.

When rebooking his flight using the Emirates customer service online chat, Mr Kenway asked the representative to confirm he could quarantine at home.

He said: “After (I) arrive (in) Glasgow I go straight home for quarantine, yes?” – to which Emirates replied: “Yes”.

Simon Kenway's quarantine hotel room at Heathrow airport

In a second chat, rebooking his flight, he asked again: “(I) arrive in London and go straight home for quarantine, same (as) before, correct?” – to which the online representative replied: “Yes, same rules.”

He was not told on either occasion that transiting through Dubai would require him to pay for hotel quarantine.

The 34-year-old told the PA news agency: “If they clearly stated I would be refused entry after transiting through Dubai, I would have paid another airline to take me home on a different route.

“It would have been a lot cheaper, less stressful and I would now be at home in quarantine.”

The view from Simon Kenway's quarantine hotel room at Heathrow airport

Passengers who pass through banned countries must quarantine unless they stay on a plane and no additional passengers are taken on.

When Mr Kenway left the UK, Thailand was on the air corridor list, with travel permitted, although he did have to pay for a 16-day quarantine in a Thai hotel upon arrival.

Details on the official Government website were “not clear” about connecting flights, he said, which is why he checked directly with the airline.

On the first day of his quarantine, he was called by a Government official.

Travellers gestures as they look out of a window during mandatory hotel quarantine in a Radisson Blu hotel at Heathrow Airport

He said: “She said the Government website states ‘pass through a red zone’.

“I told her this is not clear and it needs to say ‘transit’. She said she will report this and they will change the wording.”

Mr Kenway has been told he must complete the full quarantine period.

An Emirates spokesperson said: “We’re working closely with all relevant authorities to help get passengers home while ensuring they meet the entry requirements of their destination.

“In the case of Mr Kenway, we are currently conducting an internal investigation into his case.”

Mr Kenway said he went into shock after arriving at his hotel room and has been told he cannot even leave the room for fresh air or to smoke. He has been forced to take 11 days off from his job working for a company that fixes hot tubs across the UK.

He added: “I feel like I should have at least spoken to a nurse or doctor before being put in the room, to be given a mental health assessment.”

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