Heathrow Airport: Quarantined hotel reservation system a ‘mess’ as stranded couple say no more availability

A London couple trying to return to the UK from South Africa described the government’s Covid hotel quarantine system as a ‘mess’.

Owen Hancock, 35, and Emily Mennie, 30, who live in Tooting, face the unenviable 10-day task of a quarantine hotel due to South Africa’s addition to the Red List following discovering the Omicron Covid mutation.

The couple changed their flights to arrive at Heathrow Airport on Saturday, December 4, but when they tried to book a room at the quarantine hotel they were told it was full.

READ MORE:Hospital boss warns residents to stay safe as Omicron variant spreads

The couple, who recently married, must now book PCR tests again and change their flights to return to the UK on a day when quarantine rooms are available.

When the couple spoke to MyLondon on Wednesday, December 1, Owen had been suspended from British Airways for around three hours due to a long queue and the loss of the phone line.



The couple faced financial hardship due to the cost of quarantine

Owen and Emily were already frustrated with the government’s response to the Omicron variant after they were not given “the option to return without the cost of the hotel” and felt the government should pay as they did not have the choice to return as flights have been banned in the UK.

Emily said on Wednesday: “To add insult to injury to giant financial loss, now we can’t even book the hotel’s quarantine because there are no rooms available.

“Not only are we getting slapped at a huge cost, but we can’t go home now because the government hasn’t acted together – it’s a shambles.”

When the couple tried to book the hotel on Wednesday, the system confirmed that there was no room for the date the couple wanted to return to the UK.

The automated message read: “Unfortunately, due to customer demand, there is no availability for the selected date. Please rearrange your travel dates if possible, or retry your search later today.”

Owen and Emily, who both work in digital marketing, spoke about the financial burden that hotel stay costs would place on them, with using a credit card their only option.

Owen said: ‘As if it wasn’t stressful and unfair enough to have to find the exorbitant almost £ 4,000 for hotel quarantine, now we have to revamp PCR testing and theft because the UK government has imposed a policy that they can’t live up to.

“To top it off, we’ve spent over an hour on the phone with British Airways trying to re-book our flights – not knowing when the hotel’s quarantine rooms will be available – and the call alone has cost over £ 100. “

The couple have launched a petition on Change.Org to “reduce the insane cost of hotel quarantine in the UK”.

Last Thursday, Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps announced, “Public safety is our priority. We are taking this precautionary step to protect the progress we have made in beating the virus across the country and as always, we will continue to keep our measures under review. “

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