Couple miss out on £4,500 cruise when they are refused entry to China

Couple missed out on £4,500 dream golden wedding anniversary cruise when officials refused them entry to China and spent 18 hours at Beijing airport before flying straight home

  • Kate, 67, and Ray Hayes, 72, spent £4,500 on the holiday of a lifetime in Asia 
  • They were set for cruise through Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore 
  • After 2 flights they were stopped at Beijing and refused entry by border officials
  • Treated ‘like criminals’ in airport for 18 hours before being forced to fly home
  • Have you been refused entry to China? Contact [email protected]

A couple who spent £4,500 on their ‘dream’ golden wedding anniversary cruise claim they were treated ‘like criminals’ after being refused entry to China then forced to fly straight back home.   

Kate, 67, and Ray Hayes, 72, from Skelmersdale in West Lancashire, planned the trip of a lifetime taking in Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Singapore. 

But when they landed in Beijing on October 3 after two back-to-back flights, they claim they were refused entry by border officials.

Mother-of-three Mrs Hayes said she and her husband were held in the airport for 18 hours before being forced to return home and miss their trip.

Kate Hayes, 67, and her husband Ray Hayes, 72, from Skelmersdale, planned the trip of a lifetime with a golden wedding anniversary cruise – but they didn’t even get to leave Beijing Airport

Have you been refused entry to China under the visa waiver on arrival scheme? 

Contact [email protected] or ring 020 361 53279

The couple, who booked their holiday through Iglu Cruises, planned a three-day holiday in China before the ship set sail, going to the Great Wall and the Forbidden City and paid extra for excursions including exploring the tunnels of Vietnam. 

Mrs Hayes said when she and her husband arrived at Beijing Airport border officials took their photos and looked at their passports then asked them to step aside. 

Foreign Office issues updated advice on holidaymakers visiting China 

The Foreign Office last week updated its advice to travellers visiting China, warning that the British Embassy in Beijing had ‘received reports of a recent increase in cases where entry to China under the visa waiver on arrival scheme has been refused’.

It said such refusals ‘may be linked to previous travel history’. 

It also warned that entry to China under a visa waiver is not guaranteed and Chinese border officials have the right to refuse entry without warning or explanation. 

The Foreign Office said: ‘You should contact the Chinese Embassy or the China Visa Application Service Centre before your proposed trip for further information. 

‘If you’re unsure about your eligibility for a visa waiver, you’re advised to apply for a visa before travelling.’

Source: Foreign Office 

She added: ‘They escorted us to the left and there were a lot of people sitting down and they told us we hadn’t been given entry.

‘There were fellow passengers who were saying we weren’t getting into Beijing. We sat for a few hours with no advice or anything.

‘We called an immigration officer over. His response was that they didn’t have a reason [for refusing us entry to the country] – they don’t have to give us one.

‘We were sat in an airport for 18 hours. There were quite a few people from Liverpool and we said we will all stay in the airport.

‘You’re allowed to stay in the airport for 24 hours but we were told that after that we were going to be arrested.

‘Panic set in then – everyone started trying to get flights. We tried to go to the next stop where the ship was going to be in Japan.’

However, shelling out for more flights to Japan to meet the ship at the next stop would have cost the couple hundreds of pounds – plus the cost of further transfers and accommodation. 

They fear they will have lost all the money spent on their trip, which was due to start in Beijing and end in Singapore on October 19 before flying back to Manchester. 

Mrs Hayes added: ‘[Airport staff] were so arrogant. They were smirking – we were treated like criminals.

‘One guy said his son was getting married in Beijing this week and they weren’t letting him in.

‘The security had us up against the wall saying “don’t move”, passing our passports around and laughing at us. It was an awful experience.

‘When you’re in a strange country it’s really scary. They just didn’t like us.’ 

The pair were forced to transfer their flight home from Singapore to an immediate flight back to the UK from Beijing with Etihad Airlines.

Mr Hayes hit out at Iglu, who he claims have told the couple they will receive no refund for their ordeal.

The couple were held in Beijing Airport (pictured) for 18 hours before being forced to return home and miss their trip. The Foreign Office has now warned that Chinese border officials have the right to refuse entry without warning or explanation

He said: ‘We’ve had no support from them. We will get no money back as far as they’re concerned because it’s a government decision.’

The couple claim they were offered a £250 goodwill gesture by Iglu and were encouraged to attempt to re-enter customs to see if they would be allowed into the country.

However, by the time they spoke to Iglu, any attempt to re-enter customs would have made them miss their return flight that was transferred over.  

A spokesperson said: ‘Iglu Cruise is aware some customers experienced travel issues over the weekend whilst travelling in China. Exact details are still emerging but Iglu Cruise is working with partners and the authorities to ascertain a clear understanding of the circumstances. 

‘Iglu Cruise continues to liaise with the affected parties. Iglu Cruise is making arrangements for a goodwill gesture of £250pp to be provided to their customers affected by the incident.’ 

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