Texas woman, daughter stuck in Ireland due to COVID, canceled flights

It was a dream trip to Ireland. A holiday adventure to the Emerald Isle for Austin mom Randi Harris and her daughter Brianna Branscomb.

“Oh, it was magical. I mean, Ireland is beautiful, we got to see the Cliffs of Moher, and we drove the Ring of Kerry, which is just, you know, stop after stop of breathtaking views, and we got to go and kiss the Blarney stone,” said Harris.

The two say they took COVID safety precautions as they toured the countryside. 

But everything changed on the 27th. That’s when a member of the group they were traveling with tested positive. Everyone got sick and spent the past several days in quarantine.

“I mean, I would say it’s been very frustrating and very confusing, especially because their rules regarding quarantine changed while we were here and sick. We’re also having to navigate to different countries’ rules. So the United States and Ireland, it’s been hard to get help with finding information, so trying to secure things ourselves has been frustrating,” said Brianna.

The travel companion who got sick first recently passed two COVID tests and returned home. Harris and her daughter left Texas feeling they would be able to avoid contracting the virus.

“I mean, it’s really like absurdity that kind of feels like, I mean, Brianna and I both have. I mean, I’ve been in the high school for the entirety of the pandemic. Brianna has worked in restaurants. We are vaccinated. We’re boosted like we really did not think this would happen to us,” said Harris.

There’s been some extra mother-daughter bonding, but cabin fever has set in. “We’ve watched a lot of Irish daytime soap operas. We’ve. Oh, binge-watching Netflix on our phone. A lot of TikTok, I’ve I think I’m a full-blown TikTok addict now,” said Brianna.

Randi is the IT specialist at Leander High School. She and Bri were expecting to be home by now, but they’re not the only ones in a travel trap. That’s because the New Year started with another round of flight delays and cancelations.

The bad weather on the east coast was a big part of the problem. It’s estimated more than 3-thousand flights were affected in the first two days of the workweek. 

While the weather is now clearing, COVID quarantines are still impacting the number of flight crews available. For Randi and Bri, a possible flight cancellation is an additional dilemma. They’re required to have a negative COVID test 24 hours before their flight. 

A cancelation would require a new test and that would keep them grounded in Ireland for at least another day.

“It’s just there is a financial burden being stuck here because we don’t have family here. We have nowhere to stay. We’re having to pay to stay in a hotel. We’re having to get food delivered to us because it’s not safe for us to go to grocery stores. So I wish we had waited longer like a little bit longer in the pandemic, but we also booked this trip when we thought the pandemic was going to be blown over. So who knows,” said Branscomb.

Harris was asked if she regrets taking the trip. “I mean, I should say, yes, everything in me tells me, yes, you regret this, but I really don’t,” said Harris.

Harris’ advice for travelers; be sure to get insurance and have a financial plan in case you get stuck somewhere.

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