These were the chaotic scenes at Islamabad Airport as passengers rushed to the UK before the 4am Red List deadline.
Travelers desperate to get home before 4 a.m. yesterday when hotel quarantine became mandatory for newcomers from Pakistan shared footage of the crowded terminal.
Airport staff have been forced to rush people into decent queues and produce evidence of a negative Covid test, with one potential traveler calling this “the worst experience ever”.
A British family was refused a seat on their plane despite arriving at check-in three hours early.
Aylesbury’s Imran Khan was at Lahore Airport on a British Airways flight with nine children, including three babies and a disabled woman in a wheelchair.
They were told it was closed even though they said they arrived at 11pm for their flight, which left at 1:45pm on Thursday.
Those who made it back before 4 a.m. yesterday avoided spending £ 1,750 on eleven nights of hotel quarantine.
More than 20 flights have been chartered to return to the UK from Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore in the past 24 hours, according to reports.
According to a recent report by BBC North West Tonight, around 32,000 travelers flew from the UK to Pakistan in January alone.
With thousands remaining in Pakistan, Bolton South East Labor MP Yasmin Qureshi urged Boris Johnson to operate more charter flights for stranded citizens.
A letter to the Prime Minister signed by 46 MPs and co-authored by Qureshi said the country currently has a lower infection rate than the UK and asked for clarification on the government’s reason for adding it to the list.
Their intervention came after reports that thousands of British Pakistanis are stuck in the country, many of whom have flown legally under government travel guidelines.
The letter read: “The vast majority would have traveled to visit family, including elderly relatives they have not seen in over a year.
“They would have already paid for return flights but are now able to pay for new flights to be able to return before the ban goes into effect.”
British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Pakistan International Airlines and the Polish airline Enter Air have arranged additional direct flights in the past few days.
According to the website FlightRadar24, five flights were supposed to land directly from the Pakistani capital Islamabad in England yesterday.
Some of the last minute spots were over £ 1,400.