A BRITISH family were detained and then deported while on a £15,000 dream holiday after a mix-up over the Omicron travel ban.
Steve Goode, 31, and his partner Charlotte, 29, from Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, say their dream holiday was turned into a “nightmare” by “rude and disrespectful” authorities in Tahiti, French Polynesia.
Steve and his family were deported from French Polynesia after being told ‘you’re not welcome’ by officialsCredit: Steve Goode
The business owners were shocked when they landed on December 20 and were told they were to be deported immediately despite the UK and French government websites stating that Brits were allowed in French overseas territories.
The family were told “you are not welcome” by immigration officials after landing in an island paradise with their baby daughter Penelope – who suffers from health problems.
Steve says after passport control, his family were held in a small room for nearly six hours with no air conditioning and were “refused food”.
It came after French president Emmanuel Macron’s government banned Brits from travelling to France to stop the spread of the Omicron Covid variant.
But according to Steve, authorities in Paris did not mention French overseas territories and the airlines told them the trip was still on.
He told The Sun Online: “We complied with all the entry requirements and completed an ETIS visa document.
“The documents said the French had approved us to come to the country.
“When we landed we handed over our passports and immediately they stood up and said ‘you’re not to be here, you’re not allowed here.’
“They took us into an immigration room and told us repeatedly ‘British travellers are not allowed and not welcome in France or French territories.'”
“I said ‘I’m looking at your website right now and it actually says that we are.'”
The family flew 11 hours from London to Los Angeles on December 17 before flying another nine hours to Tahiti three days later.
Steve said the airlines and their hotel in the South Pacific island told them they had no idea that UK nationals had been banned from flying to the territory.
The Brits were also successfully granted visas by French authorities and complied with the necessary vaccine and Covid test requirements.
“They were so rude to us about us being British and what became very clear is that they had no regard for the fact that we had a six-month-old child,” he said.
They kept saying if we leave the room, we are breaking the law and we’ll go to jail
French authorities tried to deport the family immediately to the US without the appropriate Covid tests before flying, Steve claims.
The 31-year-old says his daughter baby Penelope, who has health issues, began suffering from sickness and diarrhoea after the exhausting wait in immigration.
He says the UK Foreign Office was able to arrange for a doctor to speak to the family over the phone who then told the French authorities the child was unable to fly under any circumstances.
The three Brits were then held in a quarantine hotel by police and were told they could not leave their room or risk being jailed.
Steve said: “They kept saying – if we leave the room, we are breaking the law and we’ll go to jail.
“We thought it would be nice to have some family time in a place we were only going to go once with Penelope.
The family were held at the airport for nearly six hoursCredit: Steve Goode
Steve says officials in Tahiti did not appear to care that his six-month-old daughter Penelope has health issuesCredit: Steve Goode
The French government website stated that Brits were allowed to travel to French territories
“But it’s turned into a complete and utter nightmare. They have been so rude, so unhelpful, so disrespectful.
“Making our child ill by putting us in a hot stuffy room for five and a half hours with no amenities.
“She’s got a cranial helmet because she’s got a disfigurement of her head and the helmet gets quite sweaty and gets uncomfortable for her.
“But if we take it off for long periods of time, it defeats the purpose of what it’s meant to be doing.
“So we have to be in a room which is well-ventilated and we have to be in an area which has fresh air.
“We kept explaining this to the officials and they kept saying ‘you’re not allowed to leave the room’.
After landing in Tahiti on December 20, the family are now flying back to the UK today via Los Angeles where they will stay for a few days to break up the long journey.
Steve says the holiday – which was supposed to last until January 12 – has cost the family £15,000.
He said: “I believe this is nothing to do with us. We are caught up in some kind of political ban.
“That’s what makes me more angry, because they just want us out and they don’t care and it seems to be nationality-based.”
The Foreign Office told The Sun: “We are assisting a British family in French Polynesia and are in contact with the Polynesian authorities.”
The UK government have warned that countries may impose border measures at short notice in line with their own Covid policies.