British holidaymakers have been forced to pay hundreds of pounds for alternative routes back from Croatia, after finding affordable flights home before Saturday’s quarantine deadline almost impossible to come by.
Liam and Jodie, a couple from Keighley, West Yorkshire, paid about £800 to travel home from northern Croatia via Munich, in order to beat the quarantine deadline, after finding it impossible to book a direct flight in time.
“There wasn’t an alternative. There are no flights from Pula to the UK on Fridays, only a flight from Zagreb to London runs, but obviously that was fully booked,” Liam told the PA news agency.
“The only (other) flights available were with stops in Spain through Ryanair, but then we would have to quarantine anyway,” he added.
Liam, a mechanical assembly engineer, said he had started a new job recently so “didn’t want to miss another two weeks work”.
He added that they had tried to make the most of their trip despite “the distraction of not knowing what’s going to happen”, and were treating their visit to Munich as a “city break we got as an extra”.
Other alternatives for those seeking to leave the country before the deadline include train journeys across the continent.
One potential option, taking about 20 hours, is to board a train in Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, and travel through Villach and Salzburg in Austria, Munich in Germany, and on to Paris to catch the Eurostar to London.
However, some have opted to bite the bullet and pay hundreds to get the few remaining direct flights back to the UK, or accepted the prospect of two weeks without leaving the house.
Beccy Williams, a self-employed driving instructor, has decided not to return early from her holiday in Croatia, despite the new rules meaning she will miss out on two weeks of work.
Ms Williams, from Oakham, Rutland, and her 10-year-old son, are due to fly home from Slatine, where they are on a group holiday with friends, on August 28.
She told PA: “We were expecting it to be honest – we followed the numbers before we left on Tuesday. Two of our party dropped out as they weren’t prepared to take the risk of quarantine and two weeks off work.
“I started back to work on July 4 – my parents looked after my 10-year-old whilst I worked as much as I could for the last six weeks.
— FCO travel advice (@FCOtravel) August 20, 2020
“I feel bad that my pupils won’t get their driving lessons until after September 14, but my son is having so much fun with his friends here that it’s worth it.”
Londoner Graham Lloyd-Bennett and his wife Karla said they had been tracking the local coronavirus data closely while in Croatia to visit her family, making speedy plans to exit once it appeared likely it would be added to the exemption list.
“I came back on (August) 10 because I suspected Croatia may go into the red list, and I couldn’t afford to quarantine due to work, so changed my flight earlier.”
He added that they had also rearranged his wife’s flight on Monday in order to meet the anticipated deadline of 4am on Saturday, having seen the same imposed last week on travellers from France and a number of other countries.
“When we decided to fly out to Croatia we were aware there could be changes,” he told PA.
“I can’t see why people complain as it is a personal decision to travel in these times. Of course it is annoying and stressful but it has to be done.”