Travel agency TUI receives more criticism after Norwegian family was isolated in Thailand 

A Norwegian family’s Christmas holiday in Thailand has turned into a covid-19 nightmare after their 9-year-old son tested positive upon arrival in the country and the family was placed in isolation at a local hospital. Although it is fairly known that Thailand has strict measures in place in regards to positive cases, the family says that they had not been informed by the travel company TUI that they risked 10 days in isolation at a hospital if they became infected with covid-19.

When the family of four from Vinterbro in Norway booked their tickets through the travel agency TUI to Phuket, Thailand they were prepared to spend 24 hours in quarantine upon arrival in a so-called SHA Plus hotel which is an approved quarantine hotel. They booked their entire stay in Thailand at the same hotel and conditions were that adults were fully vaccinated against covid-19, that everyone could present a negative CPR test taken no later than 72 hours before departure, and that everyone would take a new CPR test upon arrival in Thailand. 

“We thought that if we became infected with covid-19, we would be able to isolate ourselves in the hotel room. There was no mention of any hospital stay. We got the impression from TUI that it was safe to come. Had we known that we would have to go to the hospital if we became infected, we would not have left,” Silje Hoel Nikolic says to Østlandets Blad

The family’s 9-year-old son tested positive upon arrival and the family was told that he had to be placed in isolation in the hospital for 10 days. Something that came as a shock to them, Silje Hoel Nikolic says. Because of his young age, Silje was allowed to isolate with him at a private hospital but because she is not sick she is finding the isolation hard.

“The room is nice but it is closed and we are not allowed to go out. I’m not sick and I feel like I’m going crazy. I wear a face mask all the time and sleep with it at night. I disinfect and wash, and I feel paranoid. It is an extreme experience. There have been many difficult times. We are allowed outside at a special time during the day but because there are other covid-19 patients I don’t dare to go out there,” she says.

Her husband and their 11-year-old son have been isolated at the hotel but on Christmas eve, six days after arrival in Thailand, the son also tested positive, and now he and his father are also in isolation at the same hospital but in different rooms from Silje and their youngest son. 

“Our oldest son had childhood asthma, so we are a little worried about how he copes with it. So we thought it was safest if he went to the hospital as well. My youngest son and I are soon able to return to our hotel but my husband and 11 year old have to stay for a full ten days. The whole holiday is ruined, but the worst thing is that we are isolated from each other,” she says.

During the whole ordeal, she says that they have not received any help from TUI but says that the travel agency has later added a paragraph to their website that states that if you test positive at the destination, you must be isolated for ten days in a hospital or until it is confirmed that you are no longer infected with Covid-19.

After being presented with the story and criticism from Silje Hoel Nikolic, Nora Aspengren, who is Communications Manager in Norway for TUI, says in an email to ØB:

“It is sad to hear that this family had such a holiday experience and that we have not provided the service they can expect from us. That’s not how it should be, and I’m so sorry about that. I have now informed my colleagues in Phuket and I expect something to be done about it.”

Regarding information about local rules and guidelines, she states the following:

“We share information on our information pages on an ongoing basis, and travelers must familiarize themselves with what applies at all times. Just like here at home, things can change quickly. We relate to the information provided by the Thai authorities and update both websites and via information letters to customers. I was in Phuket 2 weeks ago and experienced that things work well. But it is important to stay up to date, especially in these times.”

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Gregers Møller

48 Comments on “Travel agency TUI receives more criticism after Norwegian family was isolated in Thailand ”

  1. DUUUHHH!!! What did you expect when you do discretionary travel in a pandemic?

    Blame everyone and everything except yourselves. Talk about self entitled!!

  2. Frist I’ve just spend My Christmas and New Year In Thailand. It was amazing. You have to do a PCR test 72 hours before you fly. Then test soon as you land with 24h quarantine. Another test on day 6 which is a PCR test (paid for by Thai goverment) at a hospital. Then 24h before flight antigen test. And of course 2 day test when you get back with 10days quarantine. Don’t forget as you walk around the different venues, bars clubs, shops basically anywhere they take your temperature or alarms go off.

    YOU should know all this before you book. If you get infected then tough it is how the dice roll. DANISH family wake up. Enjoy the hospital stay. Simple welcome to the new world rules.


  3. Any tourist travelling to Thailand during this pandemic should be reading the fine print, then ask themselves is it really worth the risk? Ones that also drag kids along also are very careless indeed.

    Generally tourists are nothing more than a walking ATM to Thais anyway.

    If tourists have a insurance policy that is going to pay for an expensive hospital room then you know what’s going to happen in the land of scams.

  4. Of course the parents should have informed themselves better . However , Thailand remains one of the most corrupt countries in Asia and it wouldn’t come as a surprise this is indeed a scam .
    Therefore, it’s important to ask for a re-test and/or to bring your own test kit .

  5. The travel agent’s should no by now whether a country is in lockdown or you have to isolate when you get there or they shouldn’t book holidays for people without telling the people first so they no whether to book a holiday or not because they won’t get a refund.

  6. Well if we’re going to do the blame game it’s only logical that we blame,…………….Donald Trump!

  7. I don’t believe that it is a scam. I think it’s disrespectful towards Thai people.
    Thai people are not stupid, if people had suspicions they could make an antigenic test afterwards to see if the person got covid or not… I mean, callout for conspiracy all the time is too much.
    When you travel during covid you kinda gamble with your money, stop acting surprised or outraged. Just an other Karen making the headlines…

  8. Blame yourself for not doing your basic homework, not the travel agency.

    And please, people from Europe and USA saying Thailand is a scam, look at how your country managed the pandemic compared to Thailand.

    As for hospitals, yes that’s right they try to ovecharge the mandatory COVID insurance you must have to enter the country. But they don’t send negative people to hospitals.

  9. There are 2 type of Norwegians i experience in my 12 year stay in Norway .
    First category are this total Naive and Allknowing thinking Norwegians , which this famely defenetly fits in . They are so surprised that there are consequences of their doing and wonder later that all is against them and they feel sorry for themselves . Screw them , they deserve it . In this particular case they should have done all to be prepared for such a case , and not wonder. There is no NAV catching them out there in Thailand , they must help them self , and be concionse where they ended up . There are rules in this world , not only in Norway but there are other countries you need to also follow there rules , thus counts also for dump Norwegians .

    Than there is the second category of Norwegian , the normal ones who are thinking and behaving like you and me . Unfortunately its only a smal number of this ones in Norway .

    Look how Norway handels the pandemic , its a joke , no plan at all and at the smallest light at the end of tunnel everyone gets drunk again and hug and kiss and do as never there was a pandemic , shame on you all in Norway , you dont deserve to be felt sorry for , you deserve to suffer to learn .

  10. Sounds like a scam to me, and I agree with some commentators that they should have done research before travelling but there still a lot of questions.
    Surely the kid was tested before flight and suddenly he gets positive on arrival.
    Now, can you really trust the tests? Can you request a separate test from different clinic? And how can you be sure hospitals are not making money from false cases? I would get a proper antibody count test upon return to home and probably sue all Thai government as they must have been involved in this. So all story could be either true or just another corruption

  11. Its very unfortunate that this has happened to the family. but its not right to blame anyone.. not the family, not TUI or any other. we are in midst if a pendamic and rules change so frequently. we should be ready to face these things if we want to travel.

    Its naive to think that a covid positive patient would be asked to qurantine in a hotel room. specially in a country that follows strict covid control procedures.

    we all love holidays and travel. but cant we just wait a little more and observe social distancing and crowding till everything gets under control.

    there are millions of people who have no access or are unvaccinated.

    my advice, gather all the info, be prapared for the worst. have 2nd or 3rd backup plan if you want to travel. 90% of world countries arnt gonna risk their population and economy for the convinience of a tourist like me or you.

  12. I think Thailand need to change it’s rule. You can’t keep the foreigners with no symptoms of Covid and no treatment needed in the hospital to charge them high bills. Sounds very scam and greedy to me. The worst part is insurance refused to pay for their hospital bills because there were no treatments.

  13. A global pandemic (or Endemic). New variants
    are a probability daily. Traveling to a third world country several thousand miles from home. One child has pre-condition’s…Parents need their heads tested.

    There are many excellent sites that provide up to date information about entering Thailand and necessary precautions to take. The Norwegian embassy could have provided all the relevant data for them.

    No sympathy here. Parents blunder.

  14. Nick, learn English and then comment.
    I can tell you haven’t been to Thailand and most likely nowhere.
    Have a holiday and don’t spread negativism. Stinks

  15. Thailand is being promoted as a country that is fully open to tourism at this moment. The rules about isolation and quarantine when testing positive, however, are not always out in the open or talked about, especially when people are not dick and asymptomatic. In addition, hospitalization of people without any symptoms is simply madness. Hospital beds should be reserved for the seriously ill. By the way, local type people can isolate either at home or in a community place when they are positive without symptoms. It seems clear to me that arriving tourists who test positive for covid are treated as cash cows without any consideration for their situation. This is of course unacceptable.

  16. TUI also did not advise them to brush their teeth or put on panties.
    If you travel to a far away country (especially with small kids) during a pandemic, it is YOUR OWN responsibility to inform yourself about rules and what-ifs.
    But Norway is such a nanny state that some coddled citizens expect everything will be taken care of for them.

  17. When you travel to any place you must well inform yourself of the requirements, especially during a pandemic. Not doing so is even more irresponsible when you have young children.
    The family is wrong and should not blame the Travel Agent.
    Thailand has an efficient system that keeps Covid in check. Most locals are sent to field hospitals. Tourists and Foreigners, and Thais that can afford it, get to stay at the much more comfortable Hospitals. Thank you Thailand for being well organised in this.

  18. When yiu travel to any place you must inform yourself of the requirements, especially during a panic. Not doing so is even more irresponsible when you have young children.
    The family is wrong and should not blame the Travel Agent.
    Thailand has an efficient system that keep Covid in check. Most locals are sent to field hospitals. Tourists and foreigners and Thais that can afford it get to stay at the much more comfortable Hospitals. Thank you Thailand for being well organised in this.

  19. The family should take personal responsibility here. This is not Tui’s fault in any way. I am not sure why the article seems to focus on the family being somehow disadvantaged as a result of Tui’s actions

  20. Well I don’t feel any sympathy for those people.

    Ok travel is free. You can travel wherever you wish to go but you should have had second or third plan because there are a lot of uncertainties with current pandemic situation.
    You should have known better about thai laws and regulation related with international travel and quarantine measures as well.

    Also communication with the hospital was a problem too. This is the reason now international travel is too risky….

  21. The travel agency has nothing to do with isolation rules. That is your own duty to read. You just go to the relevant government website and do your reading. It’s there black and white. Why the travel agencies fault that travel family failed to read the countries isolation rules? It’s like you blame the agency because you did not read you need let’s say a travel permit to enter a certain country. The travel agency sells travel – flights, hotels, tours etc – and that’s it. This is entirely the parents fault and in the current situation this is a well known potential risk.

  22. Fancy bringing two kids across the world during a pandemic.Obsession with Thailand by he fkg Nordics overrule everything.Go to Spain you idiots

  23. Fancy bringing two kids across the world during a pandemic.Obsession with Thailand by he fkg Nordics overrule everything.Go to Spain you idiotsm

  24. I can’t understand how any sane person would want to come visit this land of absurdity during pandemic time such as this. They change rules and regulations almost daily. Only one man who thinks himself a know-it-all is making all the desicions concerning everybody and everything. Stay away until the country has some kind of sane system.

  25. I’m just an ignorant American but even I knew when I travelled to Thailand recently that if I tested positive in Country it was “game over” for my vacation. Still, just an awful experience for the family.

  26. Thailand is scamming people. I heard a story about a hotel owner who had a deal with the hospital and got a bonus for sending one guy to the hospital. The guy ended up with a 20,000 dollar bill for just 10 days hospital, lol.

  27. Family is full of baloney. Rules are very clear. They might want to try Google sometime. It’s all there.

  28. The rules is setup by authority is very good and perfact for safety of all the citizens or any arrivals from out side. But the problem is only local (private)hospitals and there will be nothing treatment in just u found test positive(covid-19) if nothing high fever, coughing, of etc…person is only in observation at hospital. Without medication there will be 0% claim with any overseas or local insurance companies…

  29. Yes this is very sad story. It is not new with them this is happens with many foerigners. Last year it happens with one of my friend in march month. He arrives with her wife very 1st time.they r in hotel. Her wife test positive on 3dr day of PCR test. Then she took at the hospital. She has no symptom at all, no fever, no coughing,no muscle pain,no headace,nothing eles…hospital forcefully let her be in the hospital. Husband have negetive report. After 14days the hospital give them bill is more the 150000thb + for just qurantine in hospital as there will be not have any treatments given. She was just under observation of 14days with 3 test in 14days. After they fight with hospital they discount the bill and totally they agree in 30000thb amount. And insurance company also said if hospital never give any treatment then how can their client can claim? Without payment hospital also not discharge or allow to go at home. This is some thing strange…it mean people r arrive from out side they r harresh by hospitals for sure.

  30. There’s plenty of information been put out by the Thailand government on the travel requirements. The details are not hard to find. Pretty poor form trying to blame the travel agency. It’s their insurance company who should provide any assistance.

    Just some moaners who rolled the dice and lost. If you travel during a pandemic for a holiday then you should be prepared for sudden changes. Not sympathetic to these people at all. They are the ones who couldn’t live without an international holiday.

  31. Not simplicity. Rules are clear. If tested positive end up in Hospital for 10 days. I feel sorry for the child. But parents are to blame.

  32. It is not right to put someone in the hospital when they are not seriously sick. Rooms should be available for sick people. What is wrong with quarantining in the hotel? I feel sorry for this family. They have the right to travel. Thailand has been encouraging tourists to come. We need tourists here.

  33. It’s all over every travel discourse.
    Positive can mean hospital for 10 days in Thailand; that’s what the mandatory insurance is for….

  34. You don’t have to dig too deep to understand that if you test positive in Thailand you’re off to hospital for an extended isolation period. When travelling in Covid times make sure you do your homework,ask questions and prepare for different scenarios with contingency plans…
    I’ve just returned to Australia from Thailand and do not have Covid(3 PCR tests ‘negative’ completed) and am still required to be in isolation for 7 days…When I left I knew this was a possibility…

  35. My husband just had that experience, we booked the hotel where he would quarantine for 24 hours and if he for any chance tested positive he would just be in the hotel room quarantining, but that wasn’t the case, they took him to the hospital in Bangkok for 10 days, it didn’t end there, he then wasn’t being discharged from the hospital until they had as they called it “guarantee of payment” of insurance. I spent 24 hours before his discharge date going back and forth with insurance and patient coordinator, I was told by insurance hospital was charging as if he had a severe Covid case when he was perfectly fine. The insurance itself wrote the hospital an email saying here is your “guarantee of payment” let my patient be discharged, I think they heard how desperate I was when I called about 30 times in 24 hours, literally cried because hospital had the worst communication with us. Definitely don’t wish this upon anyone.

  36. Sad story,but it probably will get worse. Because, the cost of these mandatory hospital stay are huge. And are probably not covered by their travel insurance. As they are,just have positive test results ,and are not in hospital because they are there because they need treatment for being sick. I travelled to Thailand from 1 until 29 Dec and knew about this situation, got a thai health insurance for this period for 2 persons for €125 from AA insurance. Because they will cover these huge costs. Thai insurance are obligated under thai rules to pay these costs. As foreign standard, travel insurance Don t. Hope they, are now getting help from TUI.

  37. She is responsible for the health of her kid and going in holiday, during pandemic period , is so crazy !!! Why she put in jeopardize the life of her son? We are living in a virus pandemic period and people must avoid traveling for holiday.
    Also she is naive for not having taken informations on the place she was going to visit.
    Stay home and stay safe and learn from your mistakes !

  38. My wife and I flew from England to Bangkok on 24/11/2021, and we did what was required and our onward travel to family home was fine.
    But I wholeheartedly agree with this family, because there was no mention of hospital if positive, it said “on arrival we must go to an approved AQ hotel take a PCR test then stay at the hotel until we have a negative PCR test result.

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