UK-UAE travel ban: Confused flyers scramble for last-minute arrangements


Dubai - With the UK banning all direct flights from the UAE, a number of travellers were left confused as their plans were thrown out of gear.

By Saman Haziq

Published: Fri 29 Jan 2021, 9:28 PM

Last updated: Sat 30 Jan 2021, 6:31 AM

Nineteen-year-old UK citizen Mia Jodrell came to the UAE in December to spend Christmas with her parents, who are living in Dubai. She was set to travel home on February 11 with a group of friends. Now, she’s not sure when they will be able to fly out.

With the UK banning all direct flights from the UAE, a number of citizens and travellers — like Mia — were left confused as their plans were thrown out of gear.

“My tickets were initially booked for January 1, 2021, but due to a lockdown in the UK, it got pushed back to February, but now I don’t know how much more it’s going to be pushed back to. Although my return date was a couple of weeks away, I was busy shopping with my friends and packing for my new session at university. This news of a complete ban on flights from the UAE was a bit upsetting, as I was looking forward to going back to my university campus in the UK, where all arrangements have been made.”

A student of psychology at Bristol University in the UK, Mia had come to Dubai on December 22 on a 40-day visa, which is set to expire in the next few days. However, with the UAE’s announcement on the free visit visa extension, she and her family were relieved.

Another college student from the UK, whose plans were scuttled by the flight ban, was Jessica D. She had come down to Dubai to be with her family for a month but had to change her tickets three times — and yet was still unable to return to university.

“I was supposed to be going back with my group of friends on February 12, but this has forced us all to change our plans. It is disappointing...Now, the wait seems never-ending as there is nothing in sight as to when the lockdown and flight ban will (be lifted).”

Both students were also worried about having to sit for their classes from the UAE. “The toughest part about taking my classes online here is the time difference. So, as per Dubai time my lectures now finish at 10pm starting from around noon. All my friends are back in the UK and in the university, so Il be missing out on social experiences with them,” Jessica said.

Mia added: “The classes are online but there is cost involved as we have paid for the university accommodation in the UK and there are some on-campus lectures for certain courses which I will miss. It is the whole feeling of uncertainty that gets to you in such situations.

Couple in limbo after quitting their job to move to the UK

Indian couple Blessy Mathew and Manoj Michael were excited to start of a new life in the UK after spending over four years in the UAE, but then the travel ban threw a wrench in the works.

Set to relocate on January 31, the couple had already resigned from their jobs and vacated their apartment.

“We had everything set...when just two days before we were to fly, the travel ban was announced,” Mathew said. “Our UAE visa is also cancelled. We have a pet dog for which we had arranged pet relocation services. But now we have to re-plan as to how to take things forward. We cannot enter the UK from any other place since we are not citizens.”

For now, they are planning to move to a hotel and get a visit visa to stay in the UAE. However, they have another problem.

“For my husband’s new job in the UK, he has been granted Tier 2 work visa, which allows us to enter the UK till a certain date — in our case February 24, else our UK visa will also be cancelled. We are just hoping for the best and are requesting my husband’s employer (the company in UK) to allow him to work from home until flights resume,” said a worried Blessy.

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