John Spollen, the soft spoken president of the Irish Travel Agents Association, describes what has happened since the outbreak of coronavirus as a "Wild West of aviation" as airlines have abandoned their customers and ignored their rights.
Emirates is giving refunds but only from 12 months out. Customers have a year to make their mind up, and after that if they still want a refund, it will give you the refund.
Not much use if you need the refund to fly home now.
One anxious exile who paid €900 for a flight to Dublin at the Virgin Australia airline desk in Sydney airport, but did not make it to the gate on time, has been told she has to wait 12 months to get her money back.
Options for the stranded are worryingly few. One is to go to the airport and sit on an airline desk, ready to buy a no-show seat as if it was the 1980s.
It is hardly helped by the fact airlines routinely overbook long-haul flights by 10 or more seats, and have long waiting lists of those who have already paid for flights, some of whom may already been on standby from earlier cancelled flights.
Staying put, and awaiting repatriation, is an increasingly attractive alternative.
Ready access to social media and the right demographic profile mean the Irish stranded in Australia are exerting maximum political pressure in a way that Irish stranded elsewhere could not.
When Poland closed its border a week earlier, many more Irish residents were stranded there than in Australia. Their plight went unremarked.
It has been quite a week. Emirates' final flight from Dublin to Dubai, EK 162, departed on Monday, its last for the foreseeable future.
One of those left behind was a Brisbane-bound passenger who was surprised when Emirates would not let him check in. He had not seen anything on the news.
Somehow, in all the fuss of the past week, he was unaware that Irish citizens are banned from entering Australia, that Dubai is closed for transit passengers, and that UAE airlines had been forbidden by their government from carrying any but their own citizens on the final flights.
"The one thing that surprised me is the number of people who sleepwalked into this crisis," one airline executive says. "They left it until it was too late to get home, and are now finding themselves displaced."
But if passengers have been sleepwalking, airlines were tardy in setting the alarm. Two of the chief links to Australia were shut in an untidy manner. Emirates and Etihad, who between them fly 21 flights a week at this time of the year, both announced at the weekend they were due to close their services on Wednesday.
But both airlines brought the route closure forward to Monday. Passengers scrambled to react to texts and emails, and some missed the deadline.
When an airline cancels services, it would be normal practice to rebook passengers on alternative airlines. This is what Turkish Airlines did, painstakingly and to a high degree of success, when it suddenly cancelled services through Istanbul on Friday.
With Australian services, however, there was no longer any chance to rebook.
The exodus from Australia started abruptly on Thursday of last week. It had become a stampede by the time Emirates and Etihad closed for business on Monday.
Qatar continues to fly as a one-stop option, but has drastically reduced services. It grounded its Australian-bound A380s, using smaller aircraft instead, and cut the Dublin-Doha flights from seven to four a week.
That leaves barely enough room for pre-booked passengers, never mind the pile-on of the suddenly stranded or those offloaded by competitors.
Two-stop routes like Malaysia and China Southern faced similar issues as Brits and Germans joined the rush.
Those big airport hubs we know so well in Asia are shutting down. Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore are now closed to transit passengers. However, three do remain open, Bangkok, Doha and Kuala Lumpur, although that may change at any time.
Sheremetyevo, through which healthy numbers of stranded were able to return using Aeroflot's scarcely-noticed Dublin service, will be closed to transit passengers by the time you read this.
India has banned all international flights. Chinese carriers can bring passengers through cities like Guanzhou, but not Beijing. All this helps explain the headline stories of people buying €8,000 business class tickets to get home. There was nothing else left.
Matters are complicated by the nature of Ireland's tourism to Australia. The figures are surprisingly high. Ireland is the 20th most important market for Australia with 67,000 visitors a year. About 10pc of these are long stayers on a one-year backpacker visa. About 1,700 stay for a second year, and a small number remain for a third under a scheme open to only four countries, including Ireland.
Customers whose flights are cancelled are entitled to a refund under the law. Airlines have offered vouchers instead, to avoid a cash crunch caused by the refund of several weeks of cancelled flight bookings.