People have scooped up the last available tickets for planes, trains and ferries to the UK, with some airlines facing heavy criticism. significant price increases as the 4 a.m. deadline on Saturday loomed.
And while many of those who managed to find transportation around the country had to pay higher fares, others had to face huge queues in line in an attempt to make it back in time to avoid 14-day self-isolation rules.
Consumer expert Rory Boland whose? The magazine condemned the “cynical behavior” of some airlines and called for reform of the travel industry.
The editor of the consumer magazine said: “We have seen some airlines raise prices for people scrambling to get home from France, while refusing to reimburse or offer flexibility to those on the road. United Kingdom who can no longer take their holidays by claiming schedules. operate normally – despite government advice against all travel except essential travel.
“The cynical behavior of some carriers has a ripple effect on package operators, who struggle to reimburse passengers when they cannot get their money back from the airlines.
“The impact on confidence in the travel industry has been devastating.
“This reinforces why major reform of the travel industry is needed to put the traveling public first – including giving the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) the powers it needs to act quickly and effectively against airlines. airlines playing fast and loose with the rules. “
Some plane tickets were more than six times more expensive than those 24 hours later.
British Airways had tickets for sale for a Paris-London Heathrow flight on Friday night for £ 452 – compared to £ 66 for the same journey on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Eurotunnel Le Shuttle, the train service that carries vehicles through the Channel Tunnel, was full on Friday.
A spokesperson revealed that 12,000 people tried to book tickets within an hour of announcing the new rules at around 10 p.m. on Thursday, compared to only hundreds normally.
Those who were trying to book Eurostar tickets online logged in only to find that they were sometimes in virtual queues of over 3,000 people.
Among them was Stephanie Thiagharajah, who interrupted her trip to France to return home to Kent
“The Eurostar was full of families, scared of being quarantined, they were definitely annoyed,” she said.
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The cheapest Eurostar ticket available for a Paris-London train was £ 210. Those on Saturday were £ 165.
Stuart and Anna Buntine paid almost £ 1,000 on return tickets via Eurostar from Burgundy in central France.
Mr Buntine, 58, said: ‘I went to bed last night thinking everything was fine, I woke up at 7 am to find that we had to come back here pretty clean.
“We couldn’t get tickets, all the venues had collapsed… we had to buy back business class tickets today so it costs almost £ 1000.
Ms Buntine added: “We left here with our eyes (open) knowing it was a possibility, so we decided to take the risk. ”
Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said earlier that the government had taken “a hands-on approach” to the new restrictions.
The government said the measure was imposed due to the growing number of coronavirus case in France.
Travelers returning to or visiting the UK from the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos Islands and Aruba will also be subject to the same restrictions.
A traveler who gave her name Sonata K said she had abandoned plans to go to Paris on the Eurostar for four nights with her mother – after learning the new rules at St Pancras station in London on Friday morning.
The 39-year-old dentist said: “It’s not worth going out and isolating yourself.
“With my job, I can’t do the paperwork from home. We were too late to hear from us, we are just finding out here but it’s better than on the train. ”
And Dyan Crowther, managing director of London’s HS1 high-speed rail link to the Channel Tunnel, said it was ‘heartbreaking’ to see families forced to cancel vacation plans and spend hundreds of pounds. to go home.
“People want certainty, they want to know that they can leave without having to worry about what the world will be like when they return,” she said.
A spokeswoman for the travel industry organization ABTA said the government’s quarantine policy “will result in the loss of livelihoods unless it can intervene with tailor-made support for the travel industry. trip “.