John, left, and Kathleen McCann have spent $15,000 to purchase multiple return flights home to Canada from Morocco amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re hoping to get refunds from the airlines that have cancelled before they board a flight Thursday to Paris, then Toronto, then Victoria. (Courtesy of Kathleen McCann)

B.C. couple anxiously awaits flight home after spending $15K to get home from Morocco

The pair hope to fly to Victoria via Paris and Toronto after leaving Casablanca Thursday

A Greater Victoria area couple is desperate to get home after their vacation was cut short amidst COVID-19 fears – desperate enough to spend $15,000 to buy several return tickets.

Kathleen and John McCann planned on staying in Marrakesh, Morocco until March 31, but the spread of COVID-19 has disrupted their plans.

Morocco closed all public places, including movie theatres, sports arenas, and mosques, effective Monday, March 16, while shops selling necessary goods and restaurants that deliver remain open. The country had 37 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with one death and one recovery as of Monday.

“We’re in a lucky situation where we can afford this,” Kathleen said. “We’ve shelled out lots of money to make this happen. Hopefully everything goes according to plan so we can make it home.”

READ MORE: Victoria woman shares quarantine experience after cruise ship coronavirus outbreak

While the McCanns at least have a plan and the resources to make it happen, other British Columbians aren’t so lucky.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced this week that Global Affairs will offer up to a $5,000 loan to Canadians stuck abroad. He urged them to come home before more borders are closed and to email sos@gc.ca for aid.

However, he acknowledged that with about 3 million Canadians abroad at any time, that may not be possible.

“It is just realistic to know that some of them will not be coming home in the coming weeks,” he said.

Kathleen was excited to visit Morocco for the first time after her husband last visited nearly 50 years ago. They were set to visit the Sahara Desert in the coming days. On Sunday, they went to the Casablanca International Airport, only to discover what John described as ‘total madness’.

“[There was] screaming, crying, shouting,” he said. “Zero help from airport personnel.”

The couple is still in the process of trying to get some airline ticket refunds.

ALSO READ: Langford mom of five sick children struggles to get COVID-19 tests

They are staying in a small hotel on the outskirts of Marrakesh while they await their Air France flight from Casablanca to Paris. From France, they will head to Toronto and then back to Victoria.

On Thursday, the Victoria couple will pack their bags and hope that their flight won’t be cancelled, as Morocco had banned most international flights as of March 13. Otherwise, they might end up stuck at the small hotel in Marrakesh, which the couple says “could be much worse.”

– with files from Kat Slepian

aaron.guillen@goldstreamgazette.com


@iaaronguillen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Air TravelCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

John, left, and Kathleen McCann have spent $15,000 to purchase multiple return flights home to Canada from Morocco amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re hoping to get refunds from the airlines that have cancelled before they board a flight Thursday to Paris, then Toronto, then Victoria. (Courtesy of Kathleen McCann)

Just Posted

Better COVID-19 testing results needed in the north

Former senior Northern Health official also wants work camps shut down

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Northern Health preparing ‘for a changing situation’ in response to COVID-19

The health authority is taking a number of measures to free up hospital capacity where possible

COVID-19: Coast Mountain College cancels, postpones programs on Haida Gwaii

General interest and workforce training courses cancelled, field school postponed

UPDATE: Mother of missing Indigenous woman pleads for her safe return

23-year-old Shaylanna Lewis, who also uses the surname Brown, was last seen on March 21

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

Most Read