A young family stranded in the United States with a 17-month-old girl and twins on the way have secured tickets back to Australia.
Australian man Jason Bevilacqua, wife Celina Perez and daughter Olive were living a homecoming nightmare after being booted off their flight home.
But consular officials have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, securing them a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney on Sept 6.
Airline Delta inexplicably cancelled their initial tickets earlier in the week.
The callous decision thrust the young family into a race against time, with Perez not medically allowed to fly after September 15.
AAP revealed the family’s plight on Sept 3 as Australian officials worked behind the scenes to secure a safe passage home.
An elated Bevilacqua said Delta contacted him with the new tickets and an assurance they would board the flight.
“It means everything,” he told AAP on Sept 4.
“Our plans are back on track now. We were staring down the barrel of having to completely reconfigure everything in our lives.”
The family would have been forced to find accommodation and work in LA during the remainder of the pregnancy.
While he was initially handballed between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Home Affairs, the Australian consulate in LA sprung into action after the AAP report.
Bevilacqua praised consular staff.
“I can’t thank them enough for all they did,” he said.
“After my initial troubles with DFAT and Home Affairs, the consulate stepped up and kept in contact with the whole journey. They were immense.”
After completing the mandatory two-weeks hotel quarantine in Sydney, the family will settle in Bevilacqua’s hometown of Melbourne.
“That’s the next challenge – having to do two weeks with a 17-month-old who can’t get enough of getting outside,” he said.
“But in comparison to what we just went through, I think that’ll be doable.”
The young father described the initial cancellation as the worst day of his life.
Flights were booked months ago, with visas and coronavirus travel exemptions also locked in.
Failure to get home in time would have also meant the twins were not born as Australian citizens on home soil.
Now, they’ve dodged being homeless in the US and plan to be in Melbourne ahead of the twins’ arrival date in January.
By Matt Coughlan in Canberra