Aussie teen stuck 17,000km from family
A pair of Australian parents are stranded 17,000km away from their 16-year-old son after he caught a flight back to Brisbane and they were left in Wales.
The Lovelock family of four have been living in the UK for several years, in a small town in Wales, but have been wanting to return to Brisbane, Queensland, for a while now.
The two parents, Kelli and Carl Lovelock, left their jobs, ended their lease and packed everything into shipping containers in anticipation of returning to Australia.
Their teenage son, Oliver, boarded a flight and arrived in Australia a week ago. But his family is now stuck - essentially homeless.
"Wherever we can find a bed, we go," concerned father Carl Lovelock told news.com.au, speaking from a hotel room in Wales.
It comes as Australia changed the travel cap on September 25 from 4000 to 6000 travellers a week - but it's not nearly enough, according to some.
We're getting "increasingly nervous about the flight situation," Mr Lovelock said.
The family have already been bumped off three flights; first, a Qantas flight in June (which they had booked a year in advance) and then an Emirates flight they were supposed to have boarded last month.
He said they were given just six days notice and by then it was too late.
"By the time we were notified by Emirates we had already resigned from our jobs, given notice on our rental property and were literally half way through packing all our personal possessions into a sea container," Mr Lovelock said.
He booked with a third airline company, Cathay Pacific, but three times a charm didn't apply here.
"Those tickets were cancelled by Cathay less than 10 days later," he said.
SEPARATED ON OPPOSITE SIDES OF THE WORLD
With their two kids, 18-year-old Amy and 16-year-old Oliver, Mr and Mrs Lovelock were concerned about their schooling.
Mr and Mrs Lovelock were particularly concerned about Oliver, who hasn't been in a classroom since March because of the UK's COVID-19 situation. They wanted him to come to Australia as soon as possible so he could continue his education.
"My wife was able to secure a ticket for our son (to Australia) travelling alone. We were desperate," Mr Lovelock said.
Oliver hopped on a plane by himself and arrived in Brisbane a week ago.
He is now waiting in a quarantine hotel, with no idea when his parents and sister will return home.
Although Oliver has grandparents in Brisbane, his immediate family are still distressed.
"As a family we're not a cohesive unit and we can't wait to be under the same roof again," Mr Lovelock said.
"Lots of tears, lots of stress."
The family have just booked tickets with a fourth airline company, Etihad, and are due to land in Australia at the end of the month. But they're not holding out hope.
There's "a very good chance we won't get there (to Australia)," Kelli Lovelock said.
"To say it's a lottery is an understatement."
She explained the Russian roulette process of booking a plane seat.
"All the airlines are currently selling tickets to Australia (to land in Brisbane) - as if there are no caps.
"They're booking full flights - taking everybody's money."
She's also frustrated by the refund policy, with airlines taking months at a time to return the family's money.
"It took us 10-12 weeks for the QANTAS refund," she said. "They (airlines) take money out of your account within three minutes and it takes three months to get the refund."
And with both her and her husband out of a job, they can't afford to wait for the refund, with tickets costing 800 pounds (AU$1400) each.
"All our stuff (is) sitting on a ship in the middle of heaven knows where. It's due in Brisbane at the end of October," Mr Lovelock put in.
"If that flight is cancelled, our shipping container is going to sit on the wharf. We won't be there to pick it up,"
Kelli, Carl and Amy Lovelock are essentially homeless while they wait for their flight.
Amy is staying at her uncle's place while Mr and Mrs Lovelock are hopping between hotels and friends' houses.
"So in the meantime, we are homeless, sofa surfing, unemployed and feeling totally invisible to anyone in any position of power and influence in Australia," Mr Lovelock said.
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Originally published as Aussie teen stuck 17,000km from family