British passengers planning to travel to the UAE for Christmas were forced to cancel their plans after London was put into lockdown by the government.
On Sunday, the UK introduced strict new measures amid a soaring Covid-19 infection rate caused by a mutated strain. More than 24,000 new cases are being reported daily in the UK.
British authorities advise against non-essential travel, but most flights are still operating as normal.
Humzah Shaikh, 31, spent £6,000 (Dh29,800) on Etihad plane tickets for he and his family, as well as a 10-night hotel stay in Dubai, but had to cancel the trip.
"We spent thousands of pounds booking flights and hotels for Dubai during the Christmas holidays and, without notice, the UK government has put London into tier four, which means that international travel is prohibited unless travelling for business [or medical reasons].
“We are in a dilemma because the airports are still operating as normal and many people are still travelling, but that is breaking the law," he said.
“We really need a break and this is the only suitable time for my family to travel due to a relentless work schedule and a pregnant wife who won't be able to travel in a couple of months. I have spent a lot of money already on tickets and hotels and I can’t afford to spend any more to make changes.”
He said he is worried about being fined £1,000 per person by the UK government if they are caught travelling.
The money Mr Shaikh spent on the hotel is refundable, but he is waiting for further clarification from the airline.
Abu Mukid, 28, a council worker in London, also cancelled his travel plans to Dubai for an eight-day trip.
Mr Mukid spent £1,200 (Dh5,960) on two Gulf Air flight tickets and hotel bookings.
“I was supposed to travel to Dubai on December 22, however, because London is now tier four, it means I can’t any more due to the high Covid-19 case increase,” he said.
UK-bound flights from the UAE are operating as scheduled. On Sunday, an Emirates spokeswoman said flights to and from the UK were fully booked.
Dubai residents were forced to cancel their plans for a Christmas holiday in their home countries.
An Irish teacher in the emirate ditched her trip home to Dublin to see her parents.
Lidya Fischer Dooley, 29, had been monitoring how the pandemic restrictions unfolded back home before making a decision on whether to return for the festive period.
“I just decided not to go home as I think it would be massively irresponsible of me,” she said.
‘When I saw the Taoiseach [Irish Prime Minister] was urging people not to travel home my decision was made for me.
“I couldn’t live with myself if I put vulnerable people in harm’s way.”
Ms Fischer Dooley said many of her friends, who would usually travel back to Dublin for Christmas, were living in other countries and were not planning to travel home because of the risks involved.
“My grandmother is now in a care home and I have to think about the risks I would be subjecting people to,” she said.
"There was also a bereavement from Covid-19 in my circle of friends this year, they were only 26.
“It really brought it home to me about taking personal responsibility and not putting others at risk.”