Imagine your father died during the pandemic and you could not be by his side before he passed nor hold a funeral for him. Then imagine that your mother suffered a severe stroke, leaving her in critical condition. But you couldn’t visit…flights were far too expensive due to stringent entrance limits and the quarantine upon arrival was cost-prohibitive. One Chicago resident did not have to imagine…that was her reality. But a well-timed plea on Australian television plus a kind gesture from United Airlines has brought new hope to a woman and her two daughters.
Australian Family Returns With Help Of United Airlines To Visit Her Dying Mother
Rebecca Vickers is an Australian national living in Chicago. Dealing with the death or sickness of your parents is one thing, but being unable to be with them is a punishment far more cruel. Yet her parents lived in Australia and during the pandemic Australia has decided to isolate itself from the world by sealing its borders to all but a trickle of citizens returning home.
After losing her father early in the pandemic, she could not visit. Recently, her mother suffered a stroke and Vickers again found herself on the outside. Have you tried looking for flights to Australia recently? They are either sold out or so prohibitively expensive you have to be rich to fly there. And then once you get there you must pay A$3000 for the 14-day quarantine (plus A$500 per child).
Then Australia decided to (temporarily…supposedly) cut the number of citizens allowed to re-enter the country each week to 6,300.
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She took the airwaves and made an impassioned plea for an exception on compassion grounds:
United Airlines heard her plea and helped her get her back to Australia. Hopefully she will be released early from quarantine and see her mother before she passes. Another man living in Canada was not so fortunate:
This all breaks my heart and in my view, constitutes a human rights abuse. When the history book is written on COVID-19, there will be a chapter about all the folks who needlessly died alone in the cruelest of fashions.
If someone is vaccinated and tests negative before and after a flight, a 14-day quarantine is absurd. What’s the point of saving your nation if you sacrifice your soul in the process? Humans need one another. Children should not be separated from their dying parents. Public health concerns should not be devoid of the nuance and context called life.
This is a very sad story. Kudos to Ms. Vickers for making such an impassioned plea and to United Airlines (and others) stepping up to get her and her daughters to Sydney. It should not require mortgaging your house to fly to Sydney. Nevertheless, her story in this pandemic is hardly unique. And it is a story that should not have to be told.
I’ve helped a handful of Award Expert clients get back to Australia during the pandemic. It’s an incredibly difficult process and increasingly strikes me as an egregious policy more aimed at covering ineptitude and preserving power than dealing with a virus. To all you Australians trapped outside your country and waiting anxiously to get home, my thoughts and prayers are with you. Welcome home Rebecca.
image: Rebecca Vickers/ Facebook