Richard York is pictured on the first leg of his journey from Sydney to Luxembourg
Photo: Richard York/Facebook
An Australian national has described his nail-biting race to get from Australia back to his family in Luxembourg before airports and airlines shut down.
Richard York dropped his work and family visit plans in Australia as airlines began reducing flight frequency. He hopped on a plane from Sydney on Wednesday and arrived in Luxembourg after stopovers in Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam.
“When the company said come back, I thought it would be easy. It took quite some time to get me a seat,” he told Delano on Thursday. “Going through Abu Dhabi, I was a bit nervous I would get stuck there. As we took off, KLM and stewards said we did well to make the flight. It was just the not knowing.”
The software company employee said that it was a difficult journey psychologically and not just because of the thought he could end up stranded. In Australia, where York had been visiting his oldest son and family, bars and restaurants were still open when he left on Wednesday.
Departures boards in Amsterdam's Schiphol airport showed several cancellations on Thursday morning. Fortunately, York's flight was not among them. Photo: Richard York/Facebook
He said: “Usually when you travel, you look forward to what’s waiting the other side. I felt I was leading myself to prison. It did feel funny to be going from an environment where you were pretty free to travel around and go to restaurants to then voluntary get on a plane and fly half-way around the world to get locked up!”
The journey went without a hitch. York said there were more families on the flight than is typical for this time of the year. He suspected that most passengers were people returning to work or home before flights completely ceased. “From Abu Dhabi it was a pretty full KLM flight. I was in business class, but I was surprised KLM put me next to someone, especially because there were two empty seats in front of us,” he said. York said the airline was reducing the number of contact points between crew and customers, “but it wasn’t really noticeable”.
York is pictured in this selfie taken after arriving in Luxembourg early on Thursday morning. Photo: Richard York/Facebook
When York arrived in Luxembourg early on Thursday instead of a hug from his family, his wife placed him in home quarantine away from the rest of the family. After a few hours there, he was philosophical about it. “I’ve 600 bottles of wine. It should probably be enough for a week,” he joked.
But, like many international residents, the expat was not complacent about the implications the lock-down would have for him.
He said: “The idea that it’s impossible to now get back to my parents and kid in Australia or for them to come here that’s an uncomfortable feeling. On the other hand, everyone in the world is going through it, probably many more seriously than I."