Xmas In Quarantine: Tahiti Quarantine Rules Surprise British Family

Following a 20-hour journey to start what they thought would be a vacation in paradise, a British family was denied entry into Tahiti due to a French travel ban. 31-year-old Steve Goode and his 29-year-old partner Charlotte were on the way to start their £15,000 ($20,150) dream vacation, unaware that they would not be allowed to enter Tahiti because of a travel ban in France for people arriving in the country from the United Kingdom.

Air Tahiti nui Boeing 787-9
Air Tahiti Nui has four Boring 787-9 Dreamliners. Photo: Air Tahiti Nui

In mid-December, the number of people infected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the UK was steeply on the rise. In a move designed to prevent spreading accross the channel, the French government introduced a travel ban on people arriving from the UK. When the ban was announced on December 18, 2021, it said that people from the UK would only be allowed into France if they had “compelling reasons,” adding that tourism and business are not included in the “compelling reasons.”

The couple spent two nights in Los Angeles

Together with their six-month-old daughter, the Goodes left London on December 17, 2021, a day before the ban. They first flew west to Los Angeles, where they spent a couple of nights resting before the nine-hour flight to Faa’a International Airport (PPT) in French Polynesia. In total, the flight time was around 20 hours, not including the stopover in California.

Xmas In Quarantine: Tahiti Quarantine Rules Surprise British Family
The couple had a stopover in LA. Image GCmaps

While the Goodes were aware of the French travel ban, they did not realize that it also applied to French overseas territories like Tahiti and the Indian Ocean island of Reunion. The Goodes say that the airline did not tell them that they would not be allowed to enter Tahiti despite the flight taking off two days after the travel ban had started. Mr Goode says that when they obtained visas to visit Tahiti, the French authorities should have notified them about the changes to the entry rules.

Tahiti is the same as France

Like most colonial powers, France had one of the world’s largest empires, and just like other European powers, its influence never wholly disappeared. Today France has 12 overseas territories, including the South Pacific islands of French Polynesia.

Unlike other territories overseen by the United Kingdom and the United States, all people living in French overseas territories have the same rights as people living in France. All rules made in Paris apply equally in overseas territories as they do in France. Because France governs its overseas territories, Tahiti is a member of the European Union, and the Euro is the country’s currency.

They were detained at the airport for six hours

When speaking with the Daily Mail about the incident, Mr Goode said:

“It was a complete and utter surprise when we landed. We made all reasonable steps. We got an ETIS [visa] from the French, we got a negative PCR COVID-19 test, we got all of the necessary documents, we were approved to travel, the airline boarded us.”

When speaking about being detained for six hours after passing through passport control, Mr Goode said:

“They were just horrendous. Awful. Especially as we’ve got a child as well, we thought there would be some form of concession. We asked for food, they said no. A couple of other British nationals were with us, and they asked as well – “no.” Then we asked for water, and we got given this tiny cup with dirt at the bottom of it. It was tragic.”

The Goodes were planning to stay in Tahiti until January 12, 2022, after having to postpone their tropical vacation twice due to the pandemic.

“They asked us to sign a 10-page document all in French that they refused to translate into English. It was all very dictatorial,” says Mr Goode.

“What we were most surprised at were the conditions where we were held. We weren’t allowed to leave the room, and police guards were walking up and down the street.”

“Police were banging on the door at 1 am to check we were there. You really had to keep your cool – there were some quite near-the-mark moments when I felt really angry about it,” he told the Mail.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

The family flew back to the USA for Christmas

Mr Goode said that initially, the officials had decided to let them stay at their hotel, providing they did not leave the hotel for ten days but then changed their minds. He claims that the Tahitian’s decision was based on the current relationship between the UK and France.

“We spoke to a couple of nice immigration officers – and they said, being honest with you, it’s because Britain and France’s relationship is not good.”

Xmas In Quarantine: Tahiti Quarantine Rules Surprise British Family
Tahiti is supposed to be a tropical paradise. Photo: Air Tahiti Nui

After spending three nights detained in the hotel where they planned to spend their vacation, the Goodes flew back to the United States for Christmas while deciding whether to fly somewhere else or return to London.

Given that they flew Air Tahiti Nui from LAX to PPT, you would think that the airline would have been aware of the new rules. Please tell us what you think about the ordeal in the comments.