'I'm not sure I'll ever travel again': Woman stuck in South Africa down more than £2,500 for hotel and tests

A woman has been stranded in South Africa since a host of countries were added to the UK’s travel red list amid Covid variant concerns.

Stephanie Cramer, 55, had travelled to South Africa to visit her father who is severely ill with sepsis in hospital.

She was due to start a new job in London this week but has had to put plans on hold since all flights back to the UK were cancelled after the Prime Minister’s conference on Friday (November 26).

Boris Johnson announced that all flights from South Africa to the UK were due to be suspended after 4am on Sunday (November 28).

'I'm not sure I'll ever travel again': Woman stuck in South Africa down more than £2,500 for hotel and tests
© Getty Images Johannesburg, South Africa

Stephanie travelled to South Africa on November 20 to see her father because doctors said they were “not sure he would come out of hospital.”

At around midnight on Friday, the day she was due to fly home, Stephanie received a text from Virgin saying her return flight had been cancelled.

She had driven the five hour journey to Johannesburg Airport where she described the atmosphere as “frantic.”

Stephanie described what happened after her flight was cancelled: “Frantic, frantic, frantic, on Friday morning we phone the airline, we’re phoning travel agents.

“Everyone is telling us the same stories, trying to get on another flight, to connect to another flight. What happens if I get stuck in another country? I’m on my own.

“I realised that there are a million and one other people in the same position. They were crying, they were hysterical, they didn’t know where to go.”

Stephanie added that they were “all in complete and utter limbo.”

After days of calling travel agents, she has finally been offered a flight back by Virgin tomorrow evening, which has already been rescheduled once and she is yet to receive her eTicket.

Now, she faces extortionate costs to quarantine in a hotel when she arrives back in the UK.

After already spending £1200 on flights and Covid tests to get to South Africa to see her sick father, she now must find £2285 for the hotel on top of the price of Covid tests required to return.

She says the government offers a loan for the costs but she is reluctant to enter into debt. Her family have pooled together all of their savings to cover the price.

If it hadn’t been for their “unbelievable kindness”, Stephanie said she wasn’t sure what she would have done.

She was due to begin work this week as a PA and office manager for Dancing With Louise, a dance studio in London.

Now, she will miss out on three weeks worth of wages while she travels home and quarantines.

“I’m going back with nothing,” she said.

“I live on my salary, I live from day to day, don’t have savings. It’s just been the most horrific, frightening thing. I haven’t stopped crying. It’s just been awful.”

Luckily, her new employers have been “completely understanding” and have said she can begin work on December 15 after isolating for the mandated two weeks.

Now, she says the stress has left her “traumatised.”

Following the stress of being stranded Stephanie said: “I don’t want to travel ever again.”

Got a story you think we should write? Get in touch beth.gulliver@reachplc.com

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