Frustration at South African Airport as Foreigners Try to Fly Home

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
November 30, 2021 Updated: November 30, 2021

Travelers trying to leave South Africa expressed frustration Monday after other countries imposed flight bans because of the emergence of the omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Amid crowded scenes at Johannesburg airport, one holidaymaker from the United Kingdom described the overall situation as a “nightmare.”

The detection of the omicron variant prompted many countries to ban flights to and from southern Africa, throwing many travelers’ arrangements into disarray.

Some passengers from the UK and the United States were queuing up to do PCR tests for COVID-19 before boarding flights to countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, from where they hoped to travel back to their home countries.

There was a hive of activity at the testing and vaccinations centers at the airport, where travelers pay up to 1,500 rand ($92) for a PCR test whose results may be available in at least two hours.

Cindy McKinney, visiting South Africa from New York to help with the training of police dogs, was among those trying to find alternative ways to get home.

Her initial flight was scheduled to pass through Amsterdam, where flights from South Africa have been banned.

UK citizen Edward Baring, 48, said he was returning home but would go through Kenya to avoid a hotel quarantine in the UK.