A COUPLE have recalled their holiday hell after becoming stranded in The Philippines during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak.

Samuel Bennett and his wife, both aged 70, fly out to the country every winter due to its beautiful landscape and lovely people.

But their relaxing holiday turned sour on March 16 after being alerted of the serious risk posed by Covid-19 and the need to return home as quickly as possible.

And the couple, while live on a narrowboat moored in Middlewich, are still having problems more than three months later while in the process of reclaiming flight payments in excess of £6,000.

Recalling how their stressful experience started, Samuel said: “We were sat in a place called Sugar Beach when we started hearing stories that the pandemic was developing, and that transport was starting to disappear.

“We left early, but not early enough. After travelling 100 miles in a van to get to the nearest city, we found that our airline tickets were useless because the airport was in lockdown.

“After being stuck in a hotel for eight days, the Department for Tourism arranged an emergency flight to Manila but from the next island, so we had to get there via cargo boat and after having a medical.

“When we were due to check in for our flight home, which was via Hong Kong, we were told that we couldn’t board as only Hong Kong citizens could fly there.

Northwich Guardian:


“We ended up being stranded in Manila and spent 10 days arranging 11 flights, all of which were cancelled.

“We eventually got flight home on Qatar Airways, arriving back on March 26 after 10 days of absolute madness, but the whole situation was heart-breaking and stressful.”

Once they returned home, the couple thought that their nightmare ordeal was over, but more was to come in the form of claiming money back for cancelled flights.

They have so far had some joy claiming back from other airlines through Barclays bank, but are having real difficulties with both British Airways and Halifax bank.

After three hours of phone calls made to the Halifax credit card department and British Airways in the bank’s Witton Street branch in Northwich, they now feel more confident about being reunited with their money.

“Trying to get through on the phone is just impossible, and we have been through £33 worth of phone credit,” Samuel added.

“After visiting the Northwich Halifax branch, we did manage to get through on the phone and be transferred to the right department.

“Staff were very helpful and say they will look into our claim.”