A furious British bar owner now has to isolate for two weeks after his easyJet flight home from Croatia was overbooked yesterday, meaning he landed after the 4am quarantine rules kicked in today.
From 4am this morning, anyone arriving in the UK from Croatia must self-isolate for 14 days after a spike in coronavirus cases at the popular holiday destination.
The 11th-hour move sparked chaos for 20,000 British holidaymakers who faced a rush to escape.
George Sandback, 27, thought he dodged the bullet after his scheduled flight from Split would have got him back on Friday – a day before his girlfriend Sophie Kinnear was due to land.
But the bar owner from Botley, Oxford, now faces a ‘nightmare’ after the plane was overbooked, forcing him to join Miss Kinnear in travelling to London’s Heathrow Airport today.
He told MailOnline: ‘I was actually booked to fly home yesterday with easyJet but they overbooked the flight and I couldn’t get on.
‘They’ve refunded me the flight but now I won’t be able to get into any of my pubs for two weeks.
‘It’s going to cost me a packet because I’ll have to hire extra staff to do all the work.
‘And a part-time waitress isn’t going to be able to do the work of a boss.
‘It’s a nightmare, but what can I do.’
He was due to play for Oxford Downs in a cricket match against Wargrave in the Home Counties Premier League – meaning he had to fly back the day before his girlfriend.
He said: ‘I should be batting right now — but instead I’m going into quarantine.’
The quarantine is a double blow for the couple, who had to abandon an earlier holiday to France in February after the crisis began.
Pharmaceutical worker Miss Kinnear said: ‘We specifically picked Croatia because it was deemed a safe spot — but now it’s turned into a disaster.
‘I’m going to be stuck in my London flat for the next two weeks on quarantine.
‘It’s beyond annoying. The government sprung it on us so quick there wasn’t a chance to get out in time.
‘It’s just our rotten luck really. In February we touched down in France just as the country was going into lockdown and we ended up having to fly home from Geneva.’
easyJet said it will continue flying to Croatia but customers who don’t want to travel due to the quarantine measures will be offered a credit note for the cost of their booking, or the option to swap their flights without an admin fee.
Also arriving into were sisters Karen Emery, 57, who works in a school, and her sister Dionne, from Newcastle, who had a ‘near-on impossible’ journey back home.
They were due to fly back from Dubrovnik on Sunday, but had to cut their holiday short.
Speaking at Heathrow Airport, Ms Emery said: ‘We had to get an overnight ferry from Croatia to Italy before flying to Heathrow, which was near-on impossible, it’s not like coming back from France, there’s no way out in time.
‘They should have given us until Monday, so we could plan a way out, but there wasn’t enough time, so our holiday has been cut short.
‘They should have never let us go abroad, it’s a disgrace, we knew this could happen but there was no support, no advice from the Government, we were pretty much forgotten about, we were all on our own.’
Croatia was added to the quarantine list alongside Austria and Trinidad and Tobago.
An easyJet spokesperson said: ‘As a result of the Government’s last minute addition of Croatia to the list of countries requiring quarantine, many passengers have been trying to return to the UK before the quarantine takes effect and so flights have been operating full today (21 August).
‘Unfortunately some passengers were unable to travel on flight EZY8394 from Split to London Gatwick as the flight was overbooked.
‘In line with our policy we sought volunteers however none came forward and unfortunately those who were last to check in for the flight were unable to travel. Our staff assisted the passengers by booking alternative flights and hotel accommodation. We are contacting the passengers to offer compensation in line with EU261. We are sorry for the inconvenience caused.’