A Morwell couple stranded in Bali for almost a week have returned home in time for a special day.
Travis Galbraith and Kesha Draper finally landed in Melbourne yesterday after spending the last week grounded in Bali due to the Mt Rinjani volcanic ash cloud.
They were home in time to celebrate Ms Draper’s daughter’s fifth birthday today, but the cancellation of their Jetstar flight home meant Ms Draper, who is 21 weeks pregnant, missed a scheduled ultrasound.
“She’s coping pretty well but it’s always hot so it’s very draining for her,” Mr Galbraith told The Express last week.
The couple left for their week-long dream Bali holiday with Hazelwood North friends Adam May and Olivia Douglas on 2 November, but soon after arriving they realised their trip was about to be unexpectedly extended.
“(We) hoped it wouldn’t affect us, but the more we thought about it with the backlog of (grounded) flights each day getting bigger and bigger we knew each day we were going to be here longer than the original week,” Mr Galbraith said.
They were booked to return with Jetstar last Monday but when the airport was closed and the backlog of stranded passengers on recovery flights grew, their holiday became a waiting game for a flight home.
“Each day they are cancelling all flights that are due to (leave) for Australia and rescheduling recovery flights for people with medical emergencies and people (who have) been here the longest,” Mr Galbraith said.
“People who are on their last bits of medication for chemo are stuck here, a lady’s mother died and she doesn’t know if she can get back for the funeral.”
He said they were both anxious to get home to their families.
Mr Galbraith has one child aged five and Ms Draper has two children aged seven and five.
Her youngest child is celebrating her fifth birthday today.
“Kesha has been able to speak briefly to them over Facebook but it’s easier not to, (because) it makes it harder,” he said.
“I couldn’t get a clear enough connection through Viber to speak to (my daughter) Emerson.”
Mr Galbraith said the passenger backlog meant waiting for an email or text from Jetstar to know if they had been put onto a recovery flight home.
“Which is difficult when you’ve only got Wifi or global roaming. If you get a flight and that one gets cancelled you go to the back of the waiting list,” he said.
Jetstar finally made contact with the couple on Friday.
Mr Galbraith said Jetstar’s backlog of passengers was “too big” so as a last resort to get home at the weekend, they booked their return flight with Garuda Airlines.
The couple did not take out insurance and are now an extra $2000 out of pocket for accommodation, food and new flight expenses.
Their friends were booked with Virgin and managed to get home last week.