What is being touted as a ‘simple mistake’ has resulted in disaster for Australian sisters heading to Bali for a holiday. Jessie and Angie Carr were due to fly from Sydney to Denpasar, Bali on Monday 9th May, but had to reschedule their plans after one of their PCR tests was 2-hours out of the required timeframe for validity.
According to the Covid-19 rules in many countries, travelers must present a negative PCR test that has been taken within 48-hours of departure. However, in the SMS message received by the sisters from airline JetStar, this was supposedly not clear. This led to the sisters understanding the rules to mean that the 48-hours of validity started when they got their results, rather than when they took the test.
Travelers from Australia to Indonesia must show a double vaccination certificate (or proof of exemption) and a negative PCR test taken less than 48-hours before departure. Rules are changing regularly and travelers are reminded that it is their personal responsibility to find and adhere to the rules. The most up-to-date information and official information can be on government websites under ‘entry requirements’.
The Carr sisters made a TikTok video about their ordeal that went viral, catching the attention of JetStar who have since made changes to their SMS communications to avoid such confusion happening again in the future.
In a quote given to The Daily Mail, a representative from JetStar said ‘’We’ve now changed our SMS to be as clear as we possibly can. Also, the SMS included a link to our website where the requirements are listed, however, we still need customers to check in government websites as sometimes information and requirements can be updated on short notice,’
Although shaken by the disturbance to their travel plans the Carr sisters kept themselves calm enough to make alternative plans. Although PCR testing is available at Sydney airport its turnaround time is 90-minutes. This meant that they still would have missed their flight to Bali. Instead, they rebooked their fight for the following day and checked in at a hotel close to Sydney Airport. In the video posted to Jessie Carr’s TikTok, the whole situation costs the sisters an additional $700 AUD.
Though they did not need to pay for a new flight, JetStar was considerate enough to allow them to reschedule the flights for free, they did have to pay for two new PCR tests, the hotel, and transportation to and from the airport. They also lost some money on the missed first night of their accommodation in Sanur, Bali.
They have made their frustration at JetStar’s communication clear. The video shared to Jessie Carr’s 38,000 followers on TikTok received 269,100 views. In the bounce back from the Covid-10 pandemic airlines like JetStar will be doing all they can to encourage people to travel and to ensure that their communication is as clear as can be.
The cost of PCR testing has been noted by many online commentators as the biggest barrier in preventing them from booking a family holiday. With PCR tests costing as much as a night of accommodation in a 3-star hotel, testing now takes up a huge amount of a holiday budget. The Carr sisters PCR tests at Sydney airport cost $79 AUD ($54.45) each.
According to the Welcome Back To Bali website, PCR tests on departure from Bali costs 275,000 IDR (USD 18.79). For a family of four, this can easily cost $417 AUD (USD 288) for pre-arrival and pre-departure PCR tests. Despite this, Bali is preparing for an influx of Australian tourists over the long winter holiday.
Travelers are reminded that testing requirements are dictated by government entry requirements, not by airlines. Airlines have a duty to adhere to the guidelines of the destination of each flight. They have a legal responsibility to deny people onto a flight who do not meet the entry requirements of the destination.
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