Our dream holiday began when the loss of a friend served as a jarring reminder that there are no guarantees in life. Grateful that my family was fit and able, we booked the trip of a lifetime to the Maldives.
Little did we know at the time that we’d never reach our destination. A freak fog and sudden bout of illness saw to that. This is how our dream holiday quickly turned into a nightmare.
It wasn’t the 14-hour flight from Brisbane to Dubai with two young kids that unravelled us, but the connecting four-hour flight to the Maldives.
A thick fog had descended on the airport, trapping us on the tarmac for seven hours. We were advised to remain in the ‘ready for take-off’ position with the only entertainment for the kids being our countless renditions of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”. Tensions were high.
Several first-class passengers demanded to disembark the flight. There was pandemonium while our plane abandoned its position and returned to the gate. We were forced into a chaotic terminal where planeloads of disgruntled passengers formed queues that snaked the length of the lobby. All we could do was join the ever-growing line, taking five hours to reach the front.
To make matters worse, a slight twinge in my stomach became ferocious cramps during the on-board delay. I drifted in and out of feverish sleep, willing my way towards the Maldives.
Returning to the terminal, I found a corner to curl up in while the kids slept in borrowed strollers. At some point I fainted, and next thing I knew I was being escorted to the airport medical centre in a wheelchair. After an hour or two of waiting, the doctor briskly diagnosed me with gastro, deemed me unfit to fly and simply popped a few Aspirins in my hand. I hugged the terminal walls while creeping back to the Emirates desk, returning to two exhausted kids and a husband trying to hold it together.
Our flight was officially cancelled 18 hours after we first boarded. The next available flight was not for four days – our anticipated return date.
Left with no other choice, we finally surrendered our holiday and found ourselves stranded in Dubai as we awaited our return flight (which inevitably took four days anyway).
We were told our luggage would meet us in Dubai, and so we waited. However, after 22 hours, with no more nappies and two hungry kids, we took the advice from our travel insurance provider’s emergency assistance team and booked temporary accommodation.
We arrived at the hotel 38 hours after departing Brisbane, thankful for a shower, cosy bed, food and water. A doctor, less frazzled than the airport staff, provided in-room treatment, antibiotics for my gastro infection and an IV drip for dehydration.
The luggage did eventually arrive… two days after our return home.
Only at our most desperate during the entire travel nightmare did we fully appreciate having travel insurance. Thankfully, our family insurance policy provided cover for:
Only after making a claim did we realise the pros and cons of our insurance policy. Had we bought the right level of insurance cover, we would not have had to pay as much out of pocket. Here’s what our ordeal taught us to consider:
Although we hope to never endure such a nightmarish travel experience again, we know that if we ever need accommodation, healthcare or recovery of holiday costs, our travel insurance has us covered. The security our policy offers is the reason we will never travel without it.
Rene Young is an Award-winning travel blogger over on Together We Roam.
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