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'I've spent over €4,000 trying to come home and I've nothing to show for it'

Fionn Barron (21) is from Terenure, Dublin. He writes from Melbourne in Australia where he is trying to make his way home to Ireland

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Fionn Barron (21) from Terenure

Fionn Barron (21) from Terenure

Fionn Barron (21) from Terenure

So, I’m in Australia for the last 6 months enjoying the roaming life of a backpacker when a couple of weeks ago my family start to encourage me to come home.

They thought my new way of life was going to be changed by this new hidden global enemy. This seemed a bit far-fetched but after much debating, soul searching and texting I made the devastating decision to leave my new family and come home. Little did I know that devastation was about to take on a new meaning.

I was due to fly back through Brisbane, to, Melbourne, to Abu Dhabi and then back to Dublin. I knew that the United Arab Emirates was shutting its borders at 11.59pm on the 25th of March and believed that I would be okay as our flight was due to leave 02.00am on the same day from Abu Dhabi.

I was allowed onboard the flight in Brisbane to Melbourne but when as I stepped of the plane the stark reality of the UAE decision confronted me. My bags were heading to Dublin, but I wasn’t, and as the empty carousel continually looped round my panic rocketed up.

I stayed in the airport for hours trying to find another way home but to no avail. I was lucky enough to have a friend from my previous stay in Melbourne who was booked on the same Dublin flight as me, so she put me up on her sofa for the night.

We spent the evening trying to find a flight to anywhere in Europe as it looked like it was headed for a lockdown in Australia. Eventually we found one, going from Melbourne - Shanghai - Paris - Dublin for $4,000 (€2,192) Australian dollars each.

We went to get this flight in the morning and when we tried to check in, we were told by the Chinese Airline that we weren't allowed on the flight as it was only allowing Chinese citizens. The lack of sleep for three days and the rollercoaster of emotions was pushing my reserves to their limit and I was beginning to lose hope in ever getting home. They told us that they had no record of our booking.

As it turns out if we had gone to Shanghai, we discovered that we would have been tested in the airport for Covid-19 and then waited for there until the result was known, which could be up to three days.

We have now booked another flight to travel tomorrow 26th March from Perth to Dublin though Doha for $3,000 (€1,644). As of the 25th the flights are to go ahead but as I now know things can change in a heartbeat. The devastation of having to leave Australia is now replaced by the devastation of not leaving Australia.

We have not been refunded or credited for either of the flights yet and have spent in total over $8000 (€4,382) with nothing to show for it. Hopefully we will get home as soon as possible.

We are living history. The challenges posed by Covid 19 are similar the world over but everybody’s experience of this emergency will be different. In this special series, ‘Lockdown Letters' gives our readers at home and across the globe an opportunity to share their stories about how the Coronavirus and the measures to tackle its spread are impacting their lives in these unprecedented times.

Please email your submission (400 words max.) to stories@independent.ie along with a photograph. We will publish as many letters as possible on Independent.ie and a selection in print every week.

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