Man, 21, from Wotton trapped in Covid test limbo at airport

A YOUNG man from Wotton under Edge found himself trapped in an airport, in an impossible Covid 19 catch 22 situation.

Ben Mooney, 21, was trying to fly home to the UK when he became stuck in limbo in Madrid airport, on Monday, January 25.

Ben’s dad, John, has likened the episode to Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster The Terminal, in which Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks) is an Eastern European forced to take up residence at a New York airport as his homeland has undergone a coup and ceases to exist.

In the former KLB student’s case, he was travelling home after spending a year in Australia.

From Australia, he had flown to Miami, where he broke his flight for a few days, and from there had secured a flight to the UK, with a connection in Madrid.

In line with the latest rules he took a Covid test in Miami, three days ahead of travel, which came through as negative four hours before his flight.

His plane landed at the Spanish airport on Monday, January 25, where there was a wait of four of hours before his onward flight to the UK.

But on trying to board the flight he was refused entry because his Covid test was now four days old.

Ben’s dad John takes up the story: “He tried without any luck to explain this was just a continuing journey, but was left stranded.

“Now what to do? I advised him to go and get a test and I would get him on the next flight home.

“It sounds simple, but actually, no it wasn’t.”

Due to contradictory coronavirus rules, Ben was unable to leave the transit zone of the airport and enter Spain, or board a flight, without a current negative Covid test.

But he couldn’t get a new test without leaving the transit zone of the airport.

“So my son was stranded in the airport, couldn’t get on a flight because his test was no longer valid and he couldn’t leave the airport to get a test,” said John.

“He was waiting for five hours for airport management to come and see him to resolve the issue and we called the British Embassy and waited three hours for someone just to answer.

“The flight company weren’t able to help over the phone and Ben couldn’t get through customs to go to the airline desk and talk to someone there.

“So we had a 2021 Victor Navorski!”

Ben’s bag fared better than its owner, and made it to Gatwick, but this left him with no belongings.

In the end Ben managed to communicate the impossibility of his situation to the airport officials, who allowed him to enter Madrid, nine hours after he had first been refused entry onto his UK flight.

Once in Madrid, Ben tested positive for the virus and has been isolating in a hotel there ever since.

He plans to fly home as soon as he has a negative test result.

Gazette Series Gloucestershire