In previous episode, the beginning of panic, cancelled flights to Poland, and close to visa overstay. Read more here: http://www.arturaroundtheworld.com/pandemia-panic-vs-coming-back-to-poland-part-1/
We are on 19th of March. The situation in Mui Ne is under control, which means that most restaurants and shops are opened. Crucial to have restaurants especially, since our hostels don’t have kitchens.
The rumors are, that another flight will be leaving from Hanoi in few days. At the bloated price, but there will be one. Last one, as the embassy wrote.
It appeared on the night of 20th of March, scheduled to be on 28th of March.
Lets have a look at dilemma that me and 8 other poles were facing:
On one hand, overpay dearly for the flight, but be home next week. Which also means we have to get to Hanoi, and if anything goes wrong, we are stuck there. Not to mention, that the chance to get that infamous corona virus aka covid-19 will be much higher in such densely crowded spaces as buses, planes, etc.
On the other hand, not subsidize polish state airlines, and stay in Vietnam. For now Mui Ne looks like a safe spot, and everything works normal. On the downside, it can change within a heartbeat if they find any corona virus case nearby (already been a couple in neighborhood towns). Also, everyone estimated that the flights might be suspended for many months, so coming back this year might be a challenge.
From now all the choices seemed bad or worse. So selecting the lesser evil was what everyone was aiming at.
Given the above, plus the cost of extending the visa, I decided to pay for the flight.
Few days went by, and finally on 25th Poland, as the last country in European Union, finally, after taking as long as possible to obstruct the decision, joined the subsidized by European Union flights program.
Why it took so long? It’s a business decision. In the beginning of huge economic crisis, polish government effectively bailed the polish state owned airlines, by giving them the monopoly to bring tens of hundreds polish citizens from abroad, at the price that was 2,5 times higher than the usual price charged on the those routes. So joining the program earlier would cease the income source for LOT, polish airlines.
In the meantime I also found out, that polish embassy was effectively banning polish citizens on entering those subsidized flights.
The mechanism was following:
regardless of the nationality, citizens from all the countries could take a chance to fly to Europe. How it worked?
The embassies were compiling the names of people willing to come back, and then inform them once such flight was available.
I will give you real life example. My friend from Bulgaria received the information from his embassy, that the czech government is organizing flight to Prague, and if he wanted to be on the list. Once again, the flight was free for the passengers.
What did polish embassy do?
We wrote to them, knowing already from another person that there will be such flight, and if they can put us on the list. Embassy waited good 24 hours before giving a reply, which goes more or less this way:
“Dear Sir, we inform you that the list now is closed, so we cannot put you there. But there is a flight organized by polish airlines (the last one) on 28th (that cost nearly 2400 PLN) Good luck”.
So not only they didn’t inform us about the flight (like bulgarian embassy did to its citizen), but they also indicated once again to take the commercial flight.
We all were in touch with embassy much before, and most of us filled up the form in their digital system, so they obviously had all our data.
I already had my ticket, so had nothing else to do than fly to Hanoi.
Fast forward to 28th of March, at the airport there were passengers from the following nationalities: danish, german, norwegian and polish.
Now take a quiz, whose representatives are there?
Only after talking with the representatives from Denmark, they told me, that the gentleman incognito is from polish embassy. Hide, so no one can bother you. Now that’s a mere continuation of polish embassy reps actions.
In the next episode I will share the horrifying stories of fellow travellers, who got stuck in quarantine, and how polish embassy did nothing to help them.