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Coronavirus: Northern Ireland woman stranded on luxury trip pays £4,500 for flight home

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Travel issues: Jill Beatty

Travel issues: Jill Beatty

Travel issues: Jill Beatty

A Northern Ireland woman has had to shell out thousands of pounds to get home from Australia after her flight was cancelled at the last minute.

Jill Beatty (43), from Glengormley, booked a six-week business class trip with Emirates through Trailfinders, costing £11,000.

As coronavirus lockdown measures were announced just two-and-a-half weeks into the trip, she's had to fork out an extra £3,500 for economy tickets to return home.

A further £1,000 has also been spent on new flights and accommodation.

On Friday, she had managed to get a flight to Tokyo and hopes she will make it back to Northern Ireland by Saturday night.

Ms Beatty said she and another woman had booked flights home via Johannesburg in South Africa but they were cancelled on Thursday.

After paying for the additional flight to Tokyo, she said another man had the same flight cancelled and rebooked via Tokyo for no extra charge.

"Trailfinders don't want to know even though they assured me I would have their help if anything happened the day before I went on March 5," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

She added: "Airlines are very quick to take the money but a nightmare when they cancel flights.

"Thankful for the new emergency credit card I got."

In a statement on the Trailfinders website, customers were assured that no other travel company is as financially secure and it has a separate "war chest of cash".

The company said it would help clients who wished to return home earlier in countries with a travel ban or quarantine, but it is subject to availability and "may see more cost incurred".

Further information for travellers is available on the Trailfinders website.

The Foreign Office has advised that flight options from Australia to the UK are becoming "increasingly restricted" over coronavirus measures.

As more airline operators have announced they will suspend flights, British citizens are advised to return home immediately while commercial flights are still available.

British nationals in Australia have also been advised to register their details with the British High Commission registration site.

The Irish Foreign Office said that while all options are being explored, it may not be "feasible or possible" to bring everyone home in the short term.

The statement added: "We know that this is a stressful situation for citizens and our embassy network is working around the clock to provide people with all the information and assistance that we can, bearing in mind the situation is unfolding across multiple countries and is not one under our control."

Belfast Telegraph