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Poland: Reactions to Evacuation of Polish Tourists From Cairo

Tourists in Cairo stuck in transfer for the night. Photo by Sylwia Presley

Current events in Cairo have forced a lot of Polish citizens to leave the city. However, due to the curfew, some of the flights from and to Poland have been cancelled. The Polish government, together with LOT Polish Airlines, dedicated a separate flight to provide Polish citizens stranded in Egypt with a safe travel option. The event caused various reactions on Polish forums.

Armin1 posts a question [PL]:

I wonder who is going to pay for the flight to Poland for those posh tourists?

JasnaOster questions [PL] the very idea of travelling to Cairo nowadays:

Why do those stupid people try to get to Egypt in times of revolution? It is a total irresponsibility. And later they will cry that no one wants to get them out of there.

Sawanna disagrees [PL] with the fact that the government should cover the costs of the emergency flight:

All Poles spending their time in Egypt travelled there of their own will. So they saw what they are getting into. I do not see any reason why the tax payers would have to pay for the irresponsible acts caused by the Polish “we will manage somehow” attitude.

Olek questions [PL] the entire idea of additional support for citizens:

I agree with sawanna completely, they wanted to go, let them manage on their own.

Some users discuss the fact that Polish tourists are still traveling to Cairo, despite warnings issued by the government and travel agencies. XZA, for instance, still plans [PL] to travel:

I am going to Egypt today and I do not give a damn what that bunch of idiots is doing:)

Gość responds, stating [PL]:

so make sure you take packed lunch, so you have what to eat once you are stuck at the airport waiting for a plane, shitting in your pants in fear.

Others wonder whether the Polish government should ban traveling to Egypt all together. WZ responds [PL]:

Because communism is over, they cannot ban anything.

Prezes points out [PL]:

Ministry of International Affairs could ban travel agencies from putting Poles at risk: here read ‘flying to Egypt’.

Tourists stuck at the Cairo Airport last weekend. Photo by Sylwia Presley

Gabec comments [PL] on the official statement of LOT Polish Airlines (posted on the company's forum), referring to the fact that there is designated assistance at the airport provided for Polish citizens:

[…] I hope something has improved, as from the update from my friend, who was brought back to Poland after quite a lot of asking on his behalf – no one really supported passengers, even more so – no one really heard of this airline's representatives at the airport.

Interesting – on the official Facebook profile of LOT Airlines, the marketing team states that the passengers do not deserve any help.

Egon.olsen, a moderator, responds [PL]:

As far as I understand, just after your post, steps were taken to improve the situation on Facebook, but one must remember that the phones work poorly or not at all on the ground and there is no Internet…

However, Gabec once again points out the reality of the situation [PL]:

[…] Does LOT try to reach the passengers in Cairo on the phone (it seems like the only option)? Just to warn you: on Saturday and Sunday Polish and Egyptian mobiles worked in Cairo. The landlines are all fine. At the time when the Internet is off, info on the Facebook profile or Lot.com is useless to those people.

Another moderator, Airliner, states on Jan. 31 [PL]:

Currently there is no reason to evacuate our citizens. Furthermore, charter flights to Cairo continue flying as if nothing happened ;) If one has paid 1,299 for a day, revolution or not, the holidays have to be used.

To which Sprajt2 responds [PL]:

I think that the tourists do not spend their time happily any more and, despite it all, it would be really good to evacuate them all, it's better to prevent the unknown than wait for the events to unfold, you never know what will happen.

After spending three days last week at the Cairo Airport myself, I have prepared a few practical tips for those who happen to be stuck there for a longer period of time:

1. Cairo Airport on Sunday http://ow.ly/i/7Klw #jan25 #Cairo #Egypt

2. Now, few tips for those stuck at the airport or heading that way: first one- don't! For at least few more days avoid it #jan25 #Cairo

3. Overall: less staff but all (incl. Local passengers) are very supportive! Ask for help, stay calm and humble- they are tired, tense #jan25

4. Stay with others, you have hrs to wait, will be nervous and tired,so is everyone. going to the toilet is easy if others watch your bag#jan25

5. Internet is down so you do not need printouts of tickets for checking, just ticket no. Customs allow water in due to long waiting #jan25

6. Do not tweet political statements, flight details etc, my tweet on wifi resulted in shutdown, they are reading it.Protect yourself! #jan25

7. Novotel keeps your room if you explain you might miss yet another flight, ask them if it's possible to come back and use it #jan25

8. Airport hotels (stayed at novotel for 200euro) have warm food and are safe, transfer every 30min and free shuttle bus #jan25 #Cairo

9. If you have rescheduled flight do not stay at the airport (no hot food, one open coffeshop, one working cashmashine), go to a hotel #jan25

10. If staying at the airport, have cash, banks are shutting down, only working cash machine is in Arabic, ask locals for help #jan25

11. To change your flight you can get visa (15usd) and exit transit to go to EgyptAir office. Staff is exhausted but kind and helpful. #jan25

12. You will get food few times a day in transit but shops sell only pepsi and sweets- Egyiptians are in the streets or at home #jan25 #Cairo

13. Do not trust airport tourist agent- sends you to his contact, unsure. Will tell you novotel is fully booked, but check yourself! #jan25

14. If you are stuck in transfer you will need to leave your passport and ticket with Egyptair, otherwise no new ticket. #jan25 #Cairo

15. Ask for staff canteen, outside of the building, 30min, sells sandwiches, but do not pay in dollars is poss, was told it's a rip off #jan25

16. At the airport ensure you have plenty of water or pepsi, as shop runs out of it time to time (always had soft drinks though) #jan25

17. Be prepared for mess. Cleaners have other priorities nowadays so it's understandable. #jan25 #Cairo

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