Aussie man spends two days in Singapore cell after Jetstar debacle

·4-min read

An Australian man spent two days locked up in a cell in Singapore after he claims Jetstar neglected to tell him the correct Covid protocols he would need to follow.

The traveller, Richard, was flying from Darwin to Thailand, via Singapore earlier this year.

Two weeks before he was set to take off, he tested positive for Covid-19. He says he spoke with Jetstar over the phone and was told he needed a letter of recovery from his GP.

He made the trip, but when he touched down in Thailand, he was told by officials he needed a negative PCR test and was put back on the plane to Singapore.

A Jetstar plane takes off near the location of Melbourne Airport's new runway, in Melbourne, Monday, January 31, 2022.
An Australian man was detained in Singapore after he claims Jetstar gave him incorrect travel advice. Source: AAP

"I was booked in to get the [Covid] test done and I cancelled it because they [Jetstar] told me I didn't need to do it," Richard told Sydney radio station 2GB.

Once in Singapore, he was put in immigration detention and remained there for 40 hours.

During that time, he spoke with Jetstar through Facebook.

Messages shared with 2GB show Richard was told by Jetstar he would hear back from them within 15 business days, despite him saying he desperately needed help and was locked in a cell.

"I wish I could assist you further Richard however the outcome remains the same," the message from Jetstar said.

"If there's anything we haven't covered please let me know, otherwise, I'll need to end this chat."

"It was unbelievable, really," Richard told 2GB, adding he was frustrated and scared.

Aussie stranded in freezing room

He admits he wasn't entirely cooperative when he arrived at Singapore's Changi Airport after being denied entry to Thailand.

"It had been a long day, I left Darwin at 5am and by that stage it was 2am the following day," he explained.

Richard was told as it was so late and there was no Jetstar staff at the airport, he was going to be put into a detention cell until the staff returned in the morning.

Richard said the room was "filthy" with beds and a wash basin. There was no hot water and it was "extremely cold".

Jetstar said there wasn't any more they could do while Richard was stuck in detention. Source: 2GB
Jetstar said there wasn't any more they could do while Richard was stuck in detention. Source: 2GB

"They wouldn't give me any luggage, so all I had was shorts and a T-shirt — I was freezing the whole time," he said.

"I had a guard at my door with a gun," he added, describing the situation as "brutal".

After two days he was allowed to leave and eventually made it to Thailand, where he remained for three months.

While he was there, he tried contacting Jetstar and claims no one acknowledged the situation.

Eventually, he spoke to an ombudsman and then he was contacted by Jetstar.

"I explained the situation to them and while they were sympathetic, they didn't really understand the fact that I was actually locked up, effectively in jail," he said.

"That's the bit that they can't get their head around."

Aussie now banned from Singapore

Jetstar has offered to reimburse Richard for his out-of-pocket expenses, but he says that isn't the issue.

Because Richard was detained in Singapore, he says he is now banned from returning to the country.

Usually, he would travel through Singapore a couple of times a year, so this ban could impact future travel plans.

In a statement to Yahoo News Australia, a Jetstar spokesperson said the airline understands it was an "incredibly stressful situation" for Richard.

The spokesperson added that the ordeal happened during a "period of unprecedented Government restrictions on global travel" that changed frequently.

Jetstar advises passengers to check the entry requirements of the country they are travelling to.

"A member of our team visited Mr. Grant during his time in Singapore to provide support and options to enable him to continue his journey as quickly as possible," the spokesperson added.

"Unfortunately, the most immediate option to travel was not taken up by Mr. Grant, extending his time in Singapore.

We sympathise with Mr Grant and sincerely regret any misunderstanding that may have occurred prior to travel. We will reach out to him once again to discuss what additional support we can provide."

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