"It was strict but it wasn’t clear at all."
A family of three allegedly had to wait nine hours with “no food or water” before the mandatory hotel quarantine.
Savio D’Souza, of Battersea, London, arrived at Heathrow Airport from India on June 27, 2021, with his wife and two-year-old daughter.
Despite living in London, the family were allocated a hotel 115 miles away in Birmingham to begin their 10-day government-mandated quarantine.
The hotel stay has cost Savio £2,400 and he has described the system as “utter chaos“.
He said: “The entire process (booking, registration and processing) is convoluted, undermanned and inefficient.
“It was strict but it wasn’t clear at all.
“The government has washed its hands of it [and] outsourced the problem to these [companies who are] terrible for customer service.”
The family travelled to India for a wedding on April 16, 2021, when it was on the ‘green list’.
India was put on the ‘red list’ on April 23, 2021.
Savio expressed his concern over the hotel booking system which the Department of Health and Social Care has reportedly “outsourced” to Corporate Travel Management (CTM).
According to the website, CTM is a “global provider of innovative and cost-effective travel solutions spanning corporate, events, leisure, loyalty and wholesale travel”.
Savio said: “They had no idea what they were doing. Their booking process is so complicated.”
He claimed he called CTM more than 15 times and was “on hold for an average of 50 minutes” to confirm his hotel booking.
He added that “30 per cent” of his calls were hung up on.
Savio received confirmation of his quarantine hotel three-and-a-half hours before he was expected to board his flight back to the UK.
He said: “They dump people there. Half of the staff there are not wearing masks or not wearing it properly… I don’t know what they were thinking.
“Social distancing [in the queues] is not great.”
The family said they were left without “food or water” during their 4.5 hour wait for the coach.
Savio claimed all shops and food outlets were closed in Terminal 3 and the “vending machines didn’t work”.
This meant Savio’s daughter did not have access to proper food.
He told MyLondon: “I don’t know how she got through it.”
The family are currently in hotel quarantine.
A spokesperson from CTM said: “CTM was appointed by the UK Government to facilitate bookings between citizens returning to the UK and participating hotels as part of the UK Hotel Quarantine Programme.
“While we cannot comment on individual cases, we are adapting our resources to manage very high volumes of calls from travellers returning to the UK.
“Each traveller has unique, and often complex, travel requirements.
“We are working to meet these individual requirements for every traveller, and acknowledge that returning to the UK during the pandemic is a stressful experience.
“CTM is committed to supporting British citizens to safely return home to the UK.
“Hotel allocation is based on availability, with the closest participating quarantine hotels nearby government-approved ports of entry prioritised for returning UK citizens.
“Where nearby participating hotel availability is limited, travellers are allocated the nearest available hotel, with transport regularly available to the hotel and back to the airport upon finishing quarantine.”
A Heathrow spokesperson said: “Red list routes will likely be a feature of UK travel for the foreseeable future as countries vaccinate their populations at different rates.
“We’ve adapted Heathrow by opening a dedicated arrivals facility for red list passengers arriving on direct flights.
“This system has been designed by the Government and has several layers of protection to keep passengers and colleagues safe – including mandatory negative Covid tests for all international arrivals, mandatory use of face coverings, social distancing and enhanced cleaning regimes and ventilation in immigration halls.”