A woman and her daughter were left distraught after being told they could not go on their £1,500 holiday to Cyprus because they had taken their Covid-19 tests too early.
Joanne Lemaire from Ware was due to fly with Jet2 on 18 September, but was confused by the entry requirements, which she claims were unclear from the airline’s correspondence.
“I was sent an email to say I needed to do a Covid test and then to fill out a Flight Pass 72 hours before it went, but it didn't stipulate what 72 hours before you went,” she told Herts Live.
“I'm having conversations with friends saying, ‘do I take the day I'm actually going on holiday as part of the 72 hours or not?’”
Lemaire says she was also not aware that she should have been looking to get tested privately, rather than through the NHS.
At first she could only find tests available in Kent or Wales, but then slots opened up at a test centre in Stevenage on Monday 14 September.
Lemaire and her daughter both got tested and started to look forward to their long-awaited holiday, only to discover that their application for a flight pass had been rejected the day before they were due to fly.
The reason given was that the test needed to be done within 72 hours of travel – the pair had been tested too early, and therefore their tests didn’t fall within the specified time frame.
“I finally got through to Jet2 after 45 minutes to an hour of being on hold and the response I got from them was absolutely disgusting - it was a case of ‘and, what do you expect us to do?’” said Lemaire.
Jet2’s terms and conditions do not allow for changes or cancellations within 48 hours of a flight's scheduled departure time, while the flight pass application for Cyprus can only be submitted within 24 hours of travel.
This policy leaves passengers vulnerable, with no window in which to defer their booking if something goes wrong.
“[Jet2] didn't know what process to do, I said ‘surely somebody else has had this happen to them, has anybody come back with an inconclusive test?’” said Lemaire.
“She said somebody came back with no test - so their test hadn't come back in time - and they lost their holiday too.”
As yet the pair have been unable to claim any money back, either from the airline or their travel insurance provider.
Describing the experience as an “absolute nightmare” that left her “gobsmacked”, Lemaire concluded: “I was fuming, my daughter has got special needs - she was in tears because she’s lost her holiday, through no fault of our own.”
A Jet2 spokesperson said: “We cannot provide advice on test options, however, we always advise customers to ensure that they check country entry requirements before travel, and we did so on this occasion.
“We are sorry to hear about this situation, and we always advise customers to always purchase appropriate travel insurance.”
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is very clear that NHS Covid-19 tests should not be used in order to gain entry to Cyprus.
“You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country,” reads the advice.
“You should arrange to take a private test. The UK government guide to testing for Covid-19 contains useful links and further information. Internet search of the words ‘Covid testing near me’ will bring up many private and local testing facilities (fees can vary).”