Double the usual number of flights to the UK are due to leave Portugal as holidaymakers scramble to leave on the last day before the country moves to the amber travel list.
Thirty-nine flights were due to depart from Faro Airport in the Algarve for the UK on Monday, nearly twice as many as are scheduled on a normal day.
Travellers must arrive in the UK before 4am on Tuesday or they will be required to self-isolate at home for 10 days due to a government decision to remove Portugal from its COVID green travel list.
Tourists hoping to beat the deadline are being hit by a combination of many flights being sold out, and the handful of available seats being sold at inflated prices.
Alan and Lisa Pechey, from Cambridge, were on holiday in Lisbon and had been due to return home on Tuesday. But Portugal’s sudden move to the amber list meant they decided to pay £400 each for a ticket home today.
“It was really expensive and I think the government was totally unfair to throw that at us on Thursday because it really spoiled our holiday, totally,” Mrs Pechey said.
“We had flown out on Monday for a relaxing break, but from Thursday onwards we were under extreme stress.
“I was pretty furious because they should have told us to watch out if we were going to Portugal so everyone would have known.”
Gary Turner said long lines at the airport meant his journey home took 12 hours.
He told Sky News: “A 12 hour journey!
“We arrived at Faro (airport) at 2pm for a 4.55pm flight to Gatwick and finally got to bag drop at 5pm.
“We then boarded but of course so many passengers where in the terminal still so we were sat on the plane until 7.45pm
“Finally got home at midnight! Never again!”
Jack Malan, 67, from Sevenoaks, Kent, who was returning from Portugal with his wife, said his flight back was 95% full, which wasn’t the case when we flew out there.
“At the airport there was quite the queue with various checks and I must say it’s abysmal that the government imposed this regulation so abruptly without warning, it’s very unfair.”
Ana Pacheco said she paid £300 extra for a flight.
Ryanair is charging £285 for a flight from Faro to Bournemouth on Monday, but just £17 on Wednesday.
EasyJet flights from Faro to Gatwick are £227 on Monday and £53 on Tuesday.
Speaking at Gatwick Airport on Monday, Ms Pacheco, 28, from Islington, north London, who was on holiday near Porto, said she was a “little annoyed and upset”.
“I think there should have been extra time added on for us to get home, at least a week would have been better,” she said.
Tourists in the Algarve have also reported difficulties obtaining the pre-departure tests required by the government for people arriving in the UK.
Many travel firms also expressed anger when the announcement on Portugal was made last Thursday, as it came just 17 days after the ban on international leisure travel was lifted.
Portuguese authorities also questioned why the UK switched the popular holiday destination from its travel green list to amber, saying they could not “understand the logic”.
The Department for Transport, however, maintained the situation in the country “required swift action to protect the gains made with the vaccine rollout”.
It said the positivity rate for coronavirus tests in Portugal had nearly doubled since the travel lists were first created four weeks earlier.
Separate Test and Trace figures show that of 200 arrivals from Portugal who were tested between 6 May and 19 May, three were positive for COVID-19.