Heathrow Hell: Aberdeen student stuck in airport for almost a week
Aberdeen student gets stuck at London Heathrow Airport five days due to ‘miscommunication’ regarding Coronavirus test requirements
By: Mireia Jiménez
A University of Aberdeen student was forced to stay at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) for five days, due to a last-minute change of COVID-19 test requirements in his home country last month.
The third-year student, who has asked to remain anonymous, was meant to travel to Romania on 13 February but was caught out by a change in testing requirements when the Romanian Government started mandating PCR tests instead of the previously accepted Antigen tests.
The Romanian Government’s official Coronavirus website (https://stirioficiale.ro/) indicates this change was announced in a press release on the evening of 11 February. However, the student told The Gaudie that he was not made aware of the change until arriving at LHR, with barely any time for him and other passengers to reconsider their travel plans.
The student said he was in contact with the Romanian Embassy as well as his airline but was left to work out his own way home.
“I called the embassy and they told me there is nothing to do since technically the change was documented like a week before”, he said.
When he landed in Heathrow on the morning of February 13, he and other passengers were told at the check-in for his flight to Romania that they needed a PCR test to travel.
“Some people had PCR tests, and some didn’t,” he said, but “not even the people with PCRs knew about the change.”
According to the European Union’s ‘Re-open EU’ website, “entry [into Romania] from EU Member States and Schengen Associated countries is allowed without restrictions”, however, “travellers from high-risk countries need to present a negative PCR test result for SARS-Cov-2”, which includes the UK.
Antigen tests are normally cheaper than the more accurate or ‘gold standard’ PCRs, which are provided by high-street pharmacies such as Boots, but often cost upwards of £100 and can take up to 48h to get results back.
As a result, the student had to book a new flight, PCR test and airport hotel to be able to stay in London until the next available flight.
He confirmed that his second flight was £100, and the airport hotel was £250 in total for five nights, plus a PCR test.
Asked why he had to stay at LHR for so long, he said: “Flights were full, that was the first flight I found a spot on.”
“It wouldn’t be so bad if the plane ticket and the test weren’t so expensive”, he said.
The student has been back in Romania since February 18 and is now out of quarantine. He claimed this change affected “roughly half of the people travelling to Romania from everywhere in the world”.