Mark Donnelly, 43, his husband Robert Layfield, 35, and their twin sons Mitchell and Caleb, 12, should have been in London with relatives for the festive season.
They’d been planning to see Mark’s 89-year-old grandma Joyce after Robert lost his elderly grandmother to Covid earlier this year and then his grandfather soon after.
But instead they spent the last two days begging Singapore Airport staff in vain for a Covid test to let them carry on their journey.
Now they have lost around $26,000 in flights and accommodation – and have no hope of getting a refund.
A Christmas Day reunion ended in tatters after an Robert Layfield (left) and Mark Donnelly (right) were stranded in Singapore Airport by Covid red tape for two days with their twin sons Mitchell and Caleb before being forced to fly home
The family should have been celebrating Christmas in London (pictured) with relatives
‘It’s not about the money though,’ Mark told Daily Mail Australia. ‘We just really wanted to see our family. I’ve not seen my grandmother in three years.’
The family flew out of Melbourne Airport on Wednesday afternoon on Jetstar to Singapore, with a British Airways flight booked to take them on to the UK.
They had checked with the British High Commission that they only needed a recent PCR or rapid antigen test to get into the country.
But when they arrived in Singapore, airport staff refused to let them carry on with their journey because their negative rapid antigen tests, which they’d videoed themselves taking, were not carried out and certified by a health professional.
They’d been planning to see Mark’s 89-year-old grandma Joyce after Robert lost his elderly grandmother to Covid earlier this year and then his grandfather soon after (pictured, Robert with Mark and Mark’s mother, Hazel)
Staff at Singapore airport (pictured) refused to let them carry on with their journey because their negative rapid antigen tests were not carried out and certified by a health professional
Pleas for the tests to be repeated at the airport’s in-house testing clinic were repeatedly denied, despite the help of British and Australian High Commission staff.
The four were forced to sleep in the transit lounge seats while they waited out the nightmare, with the stress inflaming Mitchell’s autism and Mr Layfield’s multiple sclerosis.
Hardly anything was allowed to open in the transit lounge because of Covid and the Christmas holidays.
And from Wednesday lunchtime until Saturday morning, they only had the clothes they were wearing and the few possessions they’d packed in their carry-on holdalls.
When they begged for access to their checked in baggage for vital medication, they were given just five minutes under security escort to access their suitcases.
The four were forced to sleep in the transit lounge seats while they waited out the nightmare, with the stress inflaming Mitchell’s autism and Mr Layfield’s multiple sclerosis
British High Commission had told the family they only needed a recent PCR or rapid antigen test to get into the country (pictured, a screenshot from the UK government health website)
Singapore finally said they were ‘inadmissable travellers’ on Friday and kicked them out of the country back to Australia.
They were forced to give up and had to fly home that evening, arriving back at dawn on Christmas Day to an empty house and no festive cheer.
‘Luckily we had forgotten to throw out a litre of milk and loaf of bread before we left,’ said Mr Donnelly, a primary school teacher from Keysborough, Melbourne.
‘So we had cheese on toast and beans with a cup of tea for our Christmas dinner.’
He said they were exhausted by the ordeal and were now just hoping Jetstar and British Airways took pity on them to at least give them flights later in the year.
The family were forced to give up and had to fly home on Friday, arriving back at dawn on Christmas Day (pictured, Robert Layfield on the flight home)
The family are now just hoping Jetstar and British Airways took pity on them to at least give them flights later in the year, but have given up hope of a refund
‘It’s been terrible, to be honest,’ said Mr Donnelly. ‘Now we’re back home – with our own bed to sleep in again at least – we’re in better spirits.
‘But it’s been awful. We didn’t even know if we’d have to go into hotel quarantine as our last PCR tests had expired by the time we got back to Melbourne.
‘Luckily though we got waved through arrivals and then we went straight to a testing clinic in Dandenong to get tested before we spent Christmas in isolation at home.
‘It’s been devastating.’
Robert Layfield (pictured left) and Mark Donnelly (right) were exhausted by the ordeal – and could only have cheese on toast and beans for their Christmas dinner after they arrived home
Aviation sources said checks should have been made that family were complying with the Covid requirements of all countries they were transferring through before being allowed to board.
But Jetstar insisted: ‘The customers provided evidence of a negative rapid antigen test.
‘However transit in Singapore requires that test to be administered by a trained professional. Video of self swabs are not permitted.’
A spokesman added: ‘We appreciate this is an extremely difficult situation and our team is doing everything we can to assist them.’
Covid Australia Family stuck in Singapore Airport for DAYS by test rule on Christmas trip to London