Denise Cabalier-Waffron and Geoff Watt from Buckinghamshire wanted to be on a 7am flight – but not this one.
“We’d rather be going to Turkey, to our house,” said Geoff.
The couple had originally booked an early morning flight to Dalaman on the southern Turkish coast on 17 May, the day that non-essential travel from Great Britain ceased to be illegal.
But on 7 May, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, placed Turkey on the “red list” of countries from which hotel quarantine is obligatory for arrivals to the UK.
“We were out for dinner and Denise kept getting texts from people saying ‘isn’t it a shame Turkey’s on the red’,” said Geoff.
“So we went straight home and managed to book this.”
They woke at 2.30am and arrived at Stansted airport at 4am – “to find that the airport was shut”.
“People were queuing to get into the airport,” said Denise. “Five o’clock came and nobody came down to open the barrier. So one lady just marched through and that was it.
“I think we’d have still been there otherwise.”
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The couple are keen to see horizons expanded. Denise said: “As long as people are very careful and they stick to the rules, I think we could go ahead with a few more places opening up.”
Geoff concurred: “It’s all down to being sensible at the end of the day.
“I’d just rather be in Turkey than Portugal. I think the [coronavirus] problem is in the cities, Istanbul and Ankara.
“Where we are in the south, down in Fethiye, I don’t think it’s too much of a problem at all.”
And what are they hoping to find in Portugal?
“Sunshine. And good red wine.”