British tourists fly home from South Africa on BA
The British Airways BA42 Boeing 777 which is the first flight home from Cape Town to the UK full of Brits since flights were banned in Omicron scare

British tourists reacted with fury on Thursday as they boarded the first British Airways (BA) flight home from Cape Town since Boris Johnson cancelled all flights back to the UK from South Africa last Friday.

They were further angered by the disruption and chaos brought to their holidays when BA sent out a text late yesterday, moving the time of the flight forward an hour till 9.45am

The BA42 flight was fully booked way in advance with holidaymakers desperate to get home, despite having to pay thousands of pounds each to quarantine when they touch down in London.

“I think Boris was totally wrong to ban all flights back… we should have been allowed an immediate return” – Kerry

Personal trainer Simon Heaton, 45, and wife Kerry, 45, from Chiselhurst, Kent, said their eight-day holiday to Cape Town had become a nightmare and had been totally ruined.


British tourists fly home from South Africa on BA
Kerry and Simon Heaton returning from Cape Town to UK. To use any of the text or photos, please contact Jamie Pyatt News Ltd.

Simon said: “We arrived last Friday at 8am on the BA43 and only found out when we touched down at Cape Town and turned our phones on that South Africa had been red listed.”

“We were at 36,000 feet when the decision was made, and we found out that we had to be home again by 4am on Sunday morning to the UK if we were to avoid quarantine.

“Kerry and I had left our son Alex, 13, and daughter Georgie, 3, with their grandparents to get a well-deserved break, and we had put our Labrador in boarding kennels as well.

“But we both knew we could not risk quarantine and leave our kids with their grandparents for an extra 10 days as that would not be fair on them (and so we) had to get home,” he said.

Kerry said: ”We tried all the airport desks at Cape Town International to try and get home and were told there was absolutely nothing, so we just had to resign ourselves to it.

“I think Boris was totally wrong to ban all flights back… as if we had just got off a plane and had not even got into Cape Town, we should have been allowed an immediate return.

“After we got to our hotel and had to start hitting the phones… it became clear that we would have to quarantine at a cost of £3,700 even though we are both double jabbed.

“It would seem that our holiday insurance will not cover us too. We have to pay for it ourself.

“We are fortunate in that we can afford the financial side but what we can’t afford is putting the children’s grandparents through an 18-day ordeal or kennelling our dog for so long.

“Alex and Georgie are finding it very stressful as they have not been away from their mum and dad for so long, and its puts all our Christmas preparations on a very big hold.

“We tried to get up Table Mountain every day but it was too cloudy and we went whale watching and didn’t see a single whale – that has kind of summed up our holiday.”

“We tried to get up Table Mountain every day but it was too cloudy and we went whale watching and didn’t see a single whale – that has kind of summed up our holiday.”

Simon added: “Our whole holiday was sadly shadowed by anxiety having to make constant phone calls to not only get a flight home but one that fitted in with hotel quarantine.

“I agree with President Ramaphosa that South Africa has been wrongly punished for bringing the variant to the attention of the world as it was clearly already out there.

“It would have helped if the UK Government allowed newly arrived British tourists to come back home without quarantine on landing but banned South Africans from flying.

“We love South Africa and will be back, but this has been handled so badly,” he said.

“I feel disgusted that South Africa was red listed” – Mandy

Photographer Mandy Tredoux, 57, from Leeds, Yorkshire, said: “I work out of Cape Town but daughter at home has an autistic child and a toddler, and desperately needs help.

British tourists fly home from South Africa on BA
British photographer Mandy Tredoux flying from Cape Town to UK. To use any of the text or photos, please contact Jamie Pyatt News Ltd.

“I planned the trip a month ago to help get my daughter Casey, 37, who is a single mum, get Michaela, 13, who is autistic and her toddler Casey through Xmas and the New Year.

“They were all expecting me and I could not let Michaela down as she was so excited so I have no choice but to soak up the £2,285 and sit in a hotel in quarantine for 10 days.

“This Omicron does not even seem to have started here and I think what Boris has done not only banning flights is shocking and I feel disgusted that South Africa was red listed.”

Retired British Airways worker Graham Egan, 61, from Brighton, Sussex, who was visiting friends in Cape Town said: “I would never have flown if I thought I would be stranded.

“I was due to fly home on November 30 but that flight was cancelled and then I realised not only would I have to quarantine but you have to try and organise the hotels yourself.

“I am double jabbed and have had the booster so I would have hoped I would have not had to quarantine but now I am going to have to try and find £2,285 I had not budgeted for.

“I think because Boris got so much stick the last time round when he did not close the UK borders and allowed the people from India (when Delta was announced) to come in for three weeks, he has knee jerked.

“I think he has put on a bit of a show of assertiveness for the electorate at our expense.”

“It is a disgrace to strand UK nationals already abroad from flying home, and also as they had not deliberately flown out to a red listed country to then charge them to come back home” – John

Wholesale food company boss John Hudson, 53, from Leeds, and wife Tracy who is his secretary had taken a fortnight away from their work and seven grown-up children.

British tourists fly home from South Africa on BA
John and Tracy Hudson flying home from Cape Town to London UK. To use any of the text or photos, please contact Jamie Pyatt News Ltd.

John said: “When I first heard Boris had made South Africa a red list country I knew I had to get home, so sat up until 3am on the phones trying to get us home before quarantine.

“I tried to get to Dubai and quarantine there, as I would rather pay for 10 days there than 10 days in London but whatever route I tried to get home by the answer was never yes.

“It is a disgrace to strand UK nationals already abroad from flying home, and also as they had not deliberately flown out to a red listed country to then charge them to come back home.

“I think this will all be over in two weeks and there will be a lot of very red faces.

“On our return Tracy and I had arranged to meet our 5 daughters and 2 sons in London at a hotel for a party but that is out the window as we will both be marooned in quarantine.

“My business partner very kindly let me take two weeks away with my wife, and took all the pressure on himself but I can’t let him do another 10 days alone while we quarantine.

“I am having my business computer and files sent to the hotel so I can set our bedroom up as an office for 10 days while we have to fork out £3,800 quarantine for the privilege.

“All the Brits we talked to were angry and thought it had all been badly handled,” he said.

Both John and Tracy had been double jabbed and boosted and put their faith in the vaccine when they booked a South African holiday, assuming they were safe from quarantining.

“I am bloody furious over this whole charade” – Lauren Slack

Unemployed teacher Lauren Slack, 41, from Manchester, had taken an extended break to stay on holiday with friends in South Africa when suddenly she got an offer of a job.

British tourists fly home from South Africa on BA
Teacher Lauren Slack got job while on holiday and had to fly back into quarantine in London missing her start date. To use any of the text or photos, please contact Jamie Pyatt News Ltd.

The languages tutor said: “I took the offer on the spot last week and desperately tried to get a flight as soon as possible and was offered four flights that were then later cancelled.

“British Airways was the fifth flight I booked and I was due to fly two days ago on Tuesday to start work on Monday morning after a long spell without a job, but that was cancelled.

“BA rebooked me for today and I was told I would have to quarantine for 10 days in London.

“I have spent £800 on four flights that were cancelled which have not yet been refunded, then £800 on this one and tried to explain that I only had £2,700 left in my bank.

“I said that after taking out £2,285 of that in quarantine I was nearly skint and had to get to Manchester and was so scared about my new employer cancelling my job offer.

“But they were marvellous and told me not to worry and start work as soon as I could.

“I am bloody furious over this whole charade and have nearly had a nervous breakdown, and have literally foamed at the mouth what with paying for flights and cancellations.

“I cannot tell you how angry and infuriated I have been for the last seven days,” she said.

Covid-19 infection rates in South Africa have multiplied quickly in the last week but so far the death rates have remained low with death remaining steady at below 30 a day.

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has confirmed that South Africa is entering a fourth wave although 72% of all new cases are all in Gauteng.

Vaccination rates are extremely low in the province and with hospitalisations increasing, medical officials revealed nearly 90% of those admitted had not been vaccinated.

The NICD said the best way to curb the spread was to get fully vaccinated, social distance and wear masks in public places, as the Government ramps up Covid jabs.

Currently just over a third of the almost 60 million population is believed to be fully vaccinated.

The organisation said that the proportion of Covid tests undertaken showed a rise in positive tests from 10.7% on Tuesday to 16.5% in just 24 hours to Wednesday.

There has also been a significant increase in hospital admissions in the past 24 hours with a total of 135 patients being taken in, but fortunately most cases appear mild.

The badly hit South African tourism and hospitality industry is on its knees having expected a bumper Xmas as South Africa moves into summer but instead experiencing around 56,000 hotel cancellations.

The desperate boost to the economy was devastated by the near worldwide ban of flights from South Africa as the alarm was raised about a so-called “worst ever” strain. According to the Chief Executive of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) David Frost, almost R1-billion was lost in 48 hours in cancellations up to March, following Boris Johnson moving SA onto the dreaded Red List.

British tourists fly home from South Africa on BA

President Ramaphosa has slammed countries such as the UK, USA, Japan, European Union, Canada, Brazil, India and Thailand for closing their borders.

He said it was wrong to “punish not reward” South Africa for discovering and reporting Omicron, and said cutting off the country was a non-scientific based “knee jerk reaction”.

The loss of 300,000 tourists between December and March is putting the 1.5 million jobs who rely on them at severe risk and it will be the final nail in the coffin for many businesses.

SATSA’s CEO Frost said: ”Tourism from outside Africa brings in £11m a day and we are now feeling this. One in seven South Africans depends on tourism to be able to eat tonight.”

According to the World Health Organisation Omicron has been recorded in 23 countries. Most of the cases have been linked to someone who recently travelled from southern Africa.

Covid figures in South Africa quadrupled since Friday, Nov 19th, when there were 789 new cases and 7 deaths to Friday, Nov 26th, with 2,828 hew cases and 12 deaths.

By Tuesday, Nov 30th, the new Covid cases doubled to 4,373 with 25 deaths; and on Wednesday, Dec 1, it doubled again to 8,561 new cases with a reported 28 deaths.

But South African scientists say that despite the quickly rising new rates, at present they are reassured the death rate is not surging which suggests the infections are mild.

South Africa has recorded a total 2,976,613 cases of Covid-19 with 89,871 deaths and a 96.2% recovery rate.

To use any of the text or photos, please contact Jamie Pyatt News Ltd.