Covid-19: How to get home if you're stranded while travelling abroad?


  • Global
  • Tuesday, 31 Mar 2020

What do you do if you are stuck abroad due to travel restrictions? — AP

The Covid-19 pandemic has certainly taken a toll on global tourism. At this point in time, it’s probably not the best idea to be on the road and go forward with your holiday plans in the near future.

Before the coronavirus crisis escalated, Eileen Cheah had decided to forego her family holiday to Japan.

“What if you are in a foreign country and you get stuck there? Since I will be travelling with kids and the elderly, that is not a risk I am willing to take.

“At least if you are in your own country, you will be surrounded by people that you are familiar with, ” says the mother of three children.

Cheah’s concerns are valid. Globally, the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has increased, pushing governments to implement stricter measures, including closing their borders and imposing lockdowns, to curb the outbreak.

But what if you are one of those people who are in the middle of a holiday while tourism grinds to a halt?

As part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, countries have implemented travel bans and restrictions. The latest developments have also cornered airlines into significantly reducing their network operation and keeping their planes grounded.

During this global health crisis, multiple reports have surfaced of people from around the world being stuck while travelling. In India – where all domestic and international flights have been grounded – many travellers found themselves stranded.

It’s a scenario that has become common in recent weeks as an increasing number of travel bans come into place.

Here is what you can do if you are stuck while on holiday due to the travel restrictions.

Contact your airline

For those who made their bookings direct with the airline, go to the carrier’s website for the latest information. Some airlines do offer repatriation flights to help passengers return. Also, most airlines will have partners you can fly with, which means there is a possibility that the carrier can help you reroute.

Be sure that all your contact details are updated. AirAsia, in a statement, urged its guests to update their email and contact numbers. This is to ensure all the latest flight changes or cancellations can be communicated smoothly.

Contact your travel insurance provider

With the situation being very fluid, it is very hard to gauge what your insurance provider’s stance is on Covid-19. But if you have bough travel insurance, it is worth contacting the provider to explore your options.

In a statement, Chubb said it is “closely monitoring guidance issued from leading organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and local health authorities”.

Reach out to the embassy

If all else fails, perhaps it is best to contact your embassy or consulate. Repatriation flights have been arranged by some countries.

With the help of embassies and local governments, AirAsia has organised a few rescue flights to China and India, while Malaysia Airlines recently deployed two rescue flights to Bangladesh and Cambodia.

You might also be given assistance on accommodation and routings by the embassy.

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