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

West Kelowna sets up precautionary sand, sandbag stations

Sand and sandbags are now in usual lakefront locations

‘We’re working to help every Canadian’: Minister of Middle Class Prosperity

Minister Mona Fortier explains she is working with all levels of government amid COVID-19

BREAKING: Inmate at Okanagan Correctional Centre tests positive for COVID-19

This is B.C.’s first community outbreak at a corrections facility

Kelowna has high compliance when it comes to physical distancing in public

The city received an average of 15 calls a day complaining people don’t distance

Kelowna restaurants support community during COVID-19 pandemic

Many Kelowna restaurants have created initiatives to both drive business and give back to community

Trudeau rejects mandatory stay-at-home order for now; COVID deaths up

The virus has now infected more than 10,000 Canadians and cost 130 their lives

UPDATE: Coronavirus concerns prompt event cancellations across the Okanagan

This is a running list of events cancelled across the Okanagan

Cowichan couple won’t self-isolate after returning from overseas

New law requires 14 days of self-isolation when returning to Canada

Family uses social media to help truckers find places to eat during pandemic

Restaurants Serving Drivers in Western Canada seeks to provide a list of places open for drivers

Advocates sound alarm over COVID-19 limiting access to contraceptives, abortion

The COVID-19 outbreak has hit sexual-health services from almost every angle

COVID-19 expected to affect Summerland finances

Council will discuss effects of pandemic during April 14 meeting

Positivity rocks: Golden resident brings positivity to community

Brandi Romano hand crafts the rocks with her kids as a distraction from COVID-19

Most Read