Omicron launches travel plans in the air

It was supposed to be different this year.

However, with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the ghost of past Christmas has returned and has shaken up the travel plans of many who were hoping to come and go in what was once the joyous season.

The Dublin Airport Authority (DAA), which manages Dublin Airport, expected a relatively merry Christmas this year with the number of trips to and from Ireland up sharply from the previous year. last year – although down more than 40% from last Christmas before the pandemic hit.

Even with Omicron sweeping the world, the DAA expects about 850,000 travelers to enter and leave the airport by January 4, with some 45,000 people likely to use the airport each day. Sunday and next Thursday will likely be the busiest days of the season.

But passengers who hoped to return home or abroad to see friends and family after a hiatus, in many cases of more than two years, are forced to ask themselves tough questions and face a myriad of challenges. paperwork and paperwork. it was no longer supposed to be part of the picture.

Portugal said we all need an antigen test to enter at a cost of around € 180. Then Ireland joined the return at a cost of around € 180

Like many people, Frank Scally and his family haven’t been out of the country since the summer of 2019, so to please his four children, he booked a family trip to Germany to visit the Christmas markets. The reservation was made in October.

Then the German authorities changed their rules due to the growing number of Covid-19s there. “This meant that our two children under 12 would have to be quarantined for five days,” he says. “We were only going for three.”

Not so restrictive

The good news is that Ryanair allowed a flight change at no cost, so they changed the direction of their travel and booked a short break in Lisbon where the rules weren’t that restrictive. “Then Portugal said we all need an antigen test to enter at a cost of around € 180. Then Ireland joined the return at a cost of around € 180.

At least, he notes, the two countries exempted those under 12, so the cost of the antigen test fell to around € 220.

Should I stay or should I go now, that was what he had to decide. If he chose not to go, he would lose the flights. which costs 390 €; while if he went, he would spend around € 400 on accommodation and an additional € 220 on antigen testing. He would get a break, but spend that break fearing that a family member would fail the test and be stuck in Portugal for Christmas.

In the end, Scally made the choice to stay at home.

At least he had a choice to make.

Pat O’Connor was due to fly to the United States from Ireland two days ago, before returning home next Tuesday. Last Wednesday he did a PCR test and it came back positive.

“My plans are completely gone. I had flown to San Francisco to attend a one-time event that I booked over the summer and spent a large amount of money on. Now I have to see if I can claim anything on my travel insurance, ”he says.

Ireland is a great place, but the pandemic has disrupted many of our plans for family and friends to visit this great country

He is stoic about the derailment of his plans and is somewhat grateful – if not the completely wrong word – to learn he had Covid while still in Ireland. “If I got stuck there it would be a horrible Christmas,” he says.

Judy La Belle and her family moved to Ireland at the end of February 2020, a few days before the declaration of the pandemic.

“It took us 18 months before we could return home to Canada for a visit,” she says. “Ireland is a great place, but the pandemic has disrupted many of our plans for family and friends to visit this great country. In addition, the Covid prevented us from seeing family at home.

“So many obstacles”

“This year we were going to go back before Christmas, but we decided not to do it because there are so many obstacles, plus the high presence of diseases. My brother and his family were coming on St. Stephen’s Day for a week, but the restrictions and Omicron cut it all off. We are heartbroken again. But it is the right thing to do.

Arran Sadlier is based in Melbourne and was planning an “expected” visit to family and friends in Ireland this Christmas.

The plans fell apart once Omicron took over. “Border control restrictions here in Australia have been strict and one of the main tools used throughout Covid, only opening international flights to Australian citizens in November of this year. With so many people – citizens or visa holders of all kinds – being locked out of the country during Covid, there is too much concern that I won’t be able to return, or even have a deadline to work with. It’s a lot of different emotions to deal with.

Fiona Dowling faced a combination of immense stress and advanced science on the flight back to Ireland from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport last week.

She notes that everyone is familiar with the concept of a PCR test. “However, myself and a group of friends had a bad experience on December 5th when we tried to check in at Chicago O’Hare Airport as our PCR test was refused by Aer Lingus staff. because it was not an RT-PCR test We were not alone as about 30 people were also denied registration and so chaos ensued as we all had to go and get test for a rapid antigen I didn’t know there were two types of PCR tests.

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