Brits spend nearly £1,000 to get home from Greek islands before quarantine

Flights to the UK from seven Greek islands have trebled, with less than 24 hours for British holidaymakers to get home before new quarantine rules kick in.

Yesterday Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said anyone coming back from Lesvos (Lesbos), Tinos, Serifos, Mykonos, Crete, Santorini and Zakynthos (Zante) from 4am Wednesday would have to self-isolate for 14 days.

However those returning from mainland Greece will not have to quarantine for two weeks, with the exception of Scotland, who have placed restrictions on the whole country.

Tourists on the islands were left with a difficult decision of taking paying up to £1,000 to get home or to carry on with their holidays as planned and quarantine upon their return, potentially missing out on work.

Jay Crucial, 39, expects to miss a funeral next week as flying back from Crete with his partner now would cost far too much.

He told ‘It’s my uncle who’s passed away from cancer and I really want to go and support my dad, and it’s infuriating that I can’t.

‘The fact that it was such short notice and we only have two days to sort something out is a lot of pressure.’

After checking prices last night, Jay, who performs at venues under the name DJ Crucial, said he could have to pay between £300 and £1,000 per person to get to Heathrow.

He added: ‘I’m looking for every single route out of there that’s not going to cost me a small fortune and make me have to remortgage the house.’

Jay, from Rochester, Kent, who works in IT support during the day, considered a ‘loophole’ by changing at the island of Rhodes, but that would also prove too costly.

He said he’s ‘really frustrated’ with travel firm TUI for not offering any support for people in his position.

Jay said he’s unlikely to book from them again and said holiday companies should be more ‘customer-centric’ in this current climate if they want to keep afloat.

He said people on the island are ‘doing everything they can’ to contain the spread of the virus on the island, with well enforced face mask rules in restaurants, bars and tavernas and all indoor paces.

Romcom author Fiona Perrin and her husband were among those who scrambled to leave Crete a day early after hearing the Transport Secretary’s announcement.

She was staying in the island’s mountain region with her husband Alan O’Reilly to celebrate her birthday and their 10th wedding anniversary.

The couple, in their early 50s, only found out the news after returning from a day on the beach. Alan said: ‘We had an exhilarating 45 minutes trying to rebook our flights.

‘We’d been on the beach all day and came back and decided to look at the news and saw Shapps had put Crete on the quarantine list by 4am on Wednesday.

‘EasyJet, who we actually flew with, were fully booked, so we ended up going with Jet2.

‘It started off at 40 Euros per person and then, in the blink of an eye, it went up to 200 Euros each.

‘It was literally within five minutes. Fortunately we are in the position to be able to afford it but it was just frightening the way it leapt up as we booked the tickets.’

The holidaymakers were due to come back from their week’s holiday tomorrow, a few hours after the quarantine deadline, originally flying into Gatwick.

They took the decision to return a day early because self-isolating would mean Fiona missing out on work, also including a non-executive role.

It would also mean further delaying the renovation of their home on the Lizard Peninsular, Cornwall, as builders would not be able to be on site.

Alan said: ‘It was a no-brainer, we had to do it. Not just for the hit on my wife’s work, but also for the building work, which had already been delayed by several months.

‘We are redeveloping our property where my wife works after we lived up country and moved back to Cornwall, where my wife is originally from, three years ago. We had already been delayed several months and it would have meant another two weeks before work could restart.’

Crete has recorded 80 new cases in the past week, contributing to Greece’s highest rise since the height of its crisis in August, the couple.

However the couple felt safe in the remote region around a 35 minute drive west of Chania International Airport. Fiona and Alan are now due to fly to Stansted with Jet 2 today, departing from Chania at 12.15am, and plan to get tested for Covid-19 in London.

As of Monday, EasyJet had no flights between Chania and all London airports before the deadline.

Since the start of the pandemic Greece has had 11,663 confirmed cases and 289 deaths, but while the country has fared relatively well numbers have risen sharply in recent weeks.

Kate Flavin, 37, hadn’t taken any holiday since January as she worked tirelessly throughout the height of the UK’s outbreak.

The doctor, from Hertfordshire, had already cancelled five trips away before finally managing to get some time off for an 11 day holiday, again in Crete.

She was due to fly back tomorrow, but didn’t want to let her colleagues down by having to stay at home for two weeks, so she ended up spending around £800 to get home early.

The intensive care medicine and anaesthesia consultant, who works at Lister Hospital, Stevenage, Hertfordshire, spend £477 on a flight to Manchester as it was the only one she could get a seat on.

But as her parents were looking after her cat in Devon, she has had to spend another £340 on a hotel, taxi fares and hiring a car to meet them in Bristol.

She told said: ‘Such a shame they don’t give more notice – I mean I took the risk so I can’t be too angry about it but it’s a bit thoughtless to put people in this position

‘If I wasn’t a doctor with a lot of shifts and on calls coming up I wouldn’t have bothered trying to get back before the deadline I don’t think.

‘But was so worried about letting my colleagues down. They shouldn’t have to scrabble about to cover me cos I took the risk and went on holiday.

‘I was just so in need of a break – haven’t had any annual leave since January and everything from during the pandemic, and since, was beginning to get on top of me so I needed to leave the UK for some respite

‘I’m sure the [Government’s] advisers are trying to do the right thing. But coronavirus isn’t going anywhere – we’re stuck with it – and I think we should be trying to work out meaningful ways to get back to normality. The knee jerk quarantine reactions aren’t helpful, in my view.’

Charlotte Harris, from Manchester, said there was nothing TUI could do to get them back early, leaving them no choice but to self-isolate when they return from Crete.

She said her husband has cancelled his Conservative Party membership ‘in discuss’ over the Government’s travel quarantine rules.

In the Commons yesterday, Transport Secretary said he would stop short of following Scotland’s lead by placing restrictions on the whole of Greece.

He announced an overhaul of England’s quarantine system allowing the country to ‘add and remove specific islands’ from the red-list while ‘still providing maximum protection to the British public’.

CEO of the PC Agency travel consultancy Paul Charles said: ‘It’s to be warmly welcomed that the Government is amending its quarantine policy – opening up some islands to British tourists again without them having to quarantine.

‘Regional corridors are vital to keep travel and tourism alive and well, and I hope it removes the confusion of different UK governments pursuing different approaches to individual countries.’ has contacted TUI for comment.

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