“What are the chances of getting us to Bangkok within the next few days?” This request was posed to personal travel manager Serrin Tabart on February 15, 2020, when COVID-19 had just started to cause shutdowns across the globe. Serrin’s client, Helen, needed to undergo treatment at a cancer clinic in Thailand and was looking to start as soon as possible. Serrin sprang into action, helping with accommodation and securing flights for Helen and her husband Graeme for just three days’ time.
However, as she worked, Serrin had to ask, “Are you absolutely sure, or can we delay this?” It was clear that COVID-19 posed an uncertain future, and Helen’s condition meant that she was immuno-compromised. Serrin talked with Helen about her health and safety while travelling, ensuring that she and Graeme would stay safe and well during her month-long stay, and his four-day stay. Thankfully, Helen and Graeme arrived safely in Thailand, where he helped her settle in and supported her as she started her treatment.
As Serrin worked through a change of plans to allow Graeme to stay by his wife’s side for a longer period, their daughter Nicole was able to get time off and join them in Thailand. Serrin was constantly monitoring the COVID-19 situation as it unfolded, watching with caution and on high alert for border shutdowns and flight changes. It was at this point where the challenges really began.
Serrin was tasked with helping Nicole travel from Kununurra, Western Australia to Darwin Airport (an almost nine-hour drive), before jumping on a flight via Singapore to Bangkok. The first hiccup, the flight to and from Bangkok were rescheduled to different travel dates. This left Serrin with a short period of time to organise a few new flights and amended accommodation to match, all while minimising costs and ensuring her client’s safe arrival as soon as possible. With Nicole’s help, she did it. Nicole arrived two days before Graeme was scheduled to leave Thailand, allowing them some valuable family time before he returned home.
Nicole also decided to extend her trip to return home on March 21. Everything was looking quite positive for her return until 10pm the night before when Serrin received a text message from her alerting her to the flight cancellation. Nicole wasn’t expecting an immediate response, but Serrin set to work straight away, securing an alternative flight for the same day. Serrin knew bookings had to be secured immediately as seats were limited with airlines cancelling flights and people scrambling for seats. Nicole arrived home without a hitch, landing the same day as originally scheduled.
Last, but definitely not least, there was Helen. She still had another ten days in Thailand and Serrin was getting anxious. The longer Helen stayed, the less Serrin could guarantee her safe return home. Initially, Helen was hesitant, but eventually agreed she should come home sooner and cut her treatment short. Flight options were provided and a decision made, right after getting off the phone with Serrin, Helen checked out of her hotel, finished her treatment and finalized everything with the clinic, got to the airport and boarded the only flight available to bring her home. Not only did she arrive safely in Australia, but arrived just days before Australian, and Thailand borders closed.
It was quite a dramatic trip, however, Helen has no regrets. The treatment she received went to plan and was integral to helping her improve health, physically and mentally. She is currently “doing well and looking fabulous” according to Serrin.
“Serrin is a godsend. Earlier this year I had to go overseas for medical reasons and she organised EVERYTHING quickly and without hassle. Then COVID-19 hit hard and everything was up in the air (or not) with cancelled return flights, etc, Serrin was up ALL night answering questions and rearranging flights and transfers. Being in a different time zone, this was much appreciated as I didn’t have that small window associated with a “shop front” 9-5 business. I will forever deal with Serrin because she’s THE BEST.”
Here, here Helen!
Serrin Tabart is a personal travel manager based in Kensington, QLD.