- While on a Christmas vacation in Jamaica, Beth Ring and her husband tested positive for COVID-19.
- After spending two days in a state-run quarantine hotel, the couple chartered a $35,000 flight home.
- Ring told Insider that she wishes she had a better quarantine plan or purchased travel insurance.
On Christmas morning, Beth Ring was relaxing at a villa in Jamaica.
Beth, 53, her husband Dan, 54, their five children and their son’s girlfriend were finishing up an eight-day vacation at the Mais Oui Villa, a luxury accommodation they say costs around $2,250 a night.
Beth told Insider they took a number of precautions: Most got their booster shots, ate out, chartered private boats to avoid strangers, masked up in public, and prioritized activities outside. the outside.
However, at the end of the trip, Beth said she noticed a dry throat and a cough. The day before she left for Chicago, Illinois, Beth said she and her family took home COVID-19 antigen tests.
A negative test was required to board their flight home, but Beth and her husband tested positive.
The couple ended up spending two and a half days in a government-run quarantine hotel before finally opting out of mandatory quarantine and paying $35,000 for a private air ambulance – a luxury service that is becoming more and more popular among those who can afford it – to go home.
Dan and Beth Ring say they had limited options for where to quarantine after testing positive
At the time of their trip, the Jamaican Ministry of Health required travelers who tested positive to quarantine for 10 days (the current policy has since been shortened to five days for US travelers, as long as you are asymptomatic). Under the initial policy, positive travelers would then have two options: either find accommodation at their own expense or go to a government-run free quarantine hotel.
Beth and Dan said they had limited options. But Oui is rented out to one group at a time, and new guests were due to arrive, so quarantine was not possible. Darrell Looney, an owner of the villa, told Insider that they had reciprocal agreements in place to accept COVID-19 positive guests with other villas and properties, however, at the time of Beth and Dan’s trip, these sites were reserved due to an influx of vacationers. According to the Jamaica Observer, in December Jamaica saw an increase in tourist numbers with numbers comparable to pre-COVID-19.
Due to the influx of tourists, they also struggled to find another hotel with an open room. “Our hosts were making calls, trying to find us another villa where we could stay, but everything was booked,” Beth said.
They were able to book a room at the El Greco Resort, a government-run quarantine-free hotel. Beth said she knew El Greco wouldn’t be the Mais Oui with his private chef, butler or luxurious surroundings. But she said spotty Wi-Fi, a lack of hot water and concerns about the hotel’s COVID-19 protocols cemented Beth and Dan’s decision to charter the private flight home. (Representatives from the Jamaican Ministry of Health did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment on the accommodations.)
The couple began filing paperwork for Air Ambulance Worldwide on December 26, shortly after checking in and wired $35,000 to Air Ambulance Worldwide.
Private jets and air ambulances have seen a pandemic boom as those who can afford them take advantage of the freedom of private air travel
For a fee, a private air ambulance service could fly Beth and Dan back to the United States, and in case they got sicker, they would be returned home for medical attention.
They are not the only ones looking for this type of trip. Since March 2020, there has been a surge in demand for the private airline industry, whether for medical flights or pure leisure. Largely fueled by concerns over the pandemic, private jet travel eliminates the need to enter crowded airports or airplanes, making it a go-to option for those who can afford it, according to ABC News.
As Wired put it, the pandemic has created a “middle-class private jet boom” and indeed, Bloomberg reported that departures this year from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, a private jet terminal popular, had increased by 61% over the previous year and that Private jet travel was 19% higher in Europe and Asia in October 2021 than it was for the same period two years earlier.
And like the flight of the Rings, these planes are not cheap. CNBC reported that a private flight for a family of four from New York City to Washington, D.C., could easily cost between $10,000 and $50,000, while individual flights can range from $1,200 to $36,000 depending on company, route and amenities.
Beth said she contacted a few emergency air evacuation companies to get price estimates. Air Ambulance Worldwide quoted them between $30,000 and $35,000 for one flight, while another company quoted them double that amount.
Representatives for Air Ambulance Worldwide did not respond to Insider’s request for comment. However, Ross Thompson, CEO of Covac Global, a membership-based medical evacuation and repatriation company, told Insider that his company conducted more than 60 air evacuations between Christmas and Jan. 6. Typically, Covac conducts two or three evacuations a month, he said. .
The Rings said their private flight experience wasn’t the height of luxury, it seems
While some private planes exude opulence, medical charters are quite different.
Beth and Dan said Air Ambulance Worldwide was able to find them a plane that could take off on December 29 if they had a letter of approval from Jamaica’s medical director, the only way to end the quarantine more early. They submitted the request and waited, she told Insider, and after 20 minutes the letter arrived stating that they were not complying with the ordered quarantine but were fit to fly, as the Air medical evacuation was an authorized practice.
They boarded the plane, and that evening it landed in Chicago.
While a private plane usually conjures up images of luxury, Beth said the flight wasn’t a typical charter flight since it was an air ambulance. Two medical professionals were on board with the couple, Beth and Dan wore masks the entire time and there was no bathroom.
Beth said they were lucky to have the means to charter a flight and if they had been able to quarantine at But Yes, they might have considered staying, but going home as soon as possible. was their goal.
Beth said she would only travel again with a better quarantine plan – and travel insurance
Beth said she thinks booking a private villa would be the safest way to vacation, as it feels more secluded than a resort with Mais Oui’s 11,000 square feet of living space, fully staffed vaccinated, hands-free check-in and meals served outside.
“We cannot guarantee that our guests will not get COVID-19, however, we go above and beyond most villas to provide an environment with protocols to reduce the chances in our villa as much as possible,” said Looney told Insider.
But for future vacations, Beth said she was more likely to consider a resort — many of which have quarantine floors for guests who test positive — to avoid another state-run quarantine.
She also told Insider that she wanted to do more research on COVID-19 travel insurance. Covac Global, for example, costs between $750 and $1,000 depending on location and length of trip, and covers the cost of a private flight if needed. Beth said she had reviewed Covac, but the company was not accepting clients at the time of her trip.
“We were lucky to get out of trouble,” Beth said, adding that she wondered what would have happened if a room at El Greco hadn’t opened up and she wasn’t able to. afford a charter flight. .
“There were so many ways it could have been worse,” she said. “We felt good, our children were able to go home and we weren’t sick.”