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Home Thanet News Article
A British holidaymaker was stranded in Tunisia for three weeks and forced to shell out £5,000 to get home - after being paralysed by a fear of flying.
Samantha Disney, 32, was whisked away for a week-long package holiday by her partner but the romantic getaway turned into a nightmare.
She was prescribed medication to get her on the flight out and - despite suffering a panic attack in mid-air - made it to the all-inclusive Scheherazade Hotel in Sousse.
But as the flight home approached she became gripped by fear and refused to leave the hotel to travel to the airport.
They were then forced to shell out £104-a-night to stay in Tunisia while they came up with an alternative way to get home.
After flying her mother out to calm her down, Samantha eventually agreed to get on a ferry to France and the family then took the Eurostar back to England.
Samantha and partner Chris Young eventually arrived back at their home in Ramsgate, over a month after they flew out to Tunisia.
Dog groomer Samantha said: "It ruined what should have been an incredible holiday, Chris proposed and we were really happy and were really celebrating.
"This was just a blight on the whole thing.
"It became a bit of a delirious situation really, we were trying to get home and no one was really helping us.
"We missed out on work for a month and we were draining our bank balances, it was absolutely awful."
Samantha has always been a nervous flyer but says she has never suffered a panic attack until the outbound flight from Gatwick on July 16.
"The hotel staff were trying to calm me down but they were getting really worried they would have to call me an ambulance because I wasn't breathing very well and I kept passing out..." Samantha Disney.
It quickly escalated mid-air and she began to hyperventilate and vomit throughout the two-and-a-half hour flight.
After making it to the hotel she got some tablets from a Tunisian doctor but suffered the same fate again in the hotel on July 23 as they prepared to leave.
She said: "On the day of flight I was alright, I spent the whole day pretty happy. I had the post-holiday blues, but I wasn't really panicking about flying back.
"But, about half an hour before the airport bus left I completely freaked out and was not happy at all.
"The hotel staff were trying to calm me down but they were getting really worried they would have to call me an ambulance because I wasn't breathing very well and I kept passing out.
"Eventually we made the decision I couldn't fly and when we told the reps they read us a disclaimer saying if we didn't get on the coach to the airport then we were no longer their responsibility and we wouldn't be their problem.
"We had no choice in the matter, Chris said I was hysterical and there was nothing they, or I could do to get me on the coach or the flight."
The couple returned to their hotel but were forced to pay £104 per night for their room, far more than they paid during their package break, which cost a total of £1,600.
They started searching for an alternative way home and eventually found a ferry crossing from France to Tunis.
A week later, when Samantha's nerves had calmed down, they travelled to Tunis port to set sail.
But because of Ramadan they were met with heavily-armed guards and were subjected to frequent visa and passport checks and searches.
Just moments before boarding the boat she once again suffered a panic attack, and, despite trying to sum up the courage to embark, refused the £160 trip.
The couple were forced to shell out once more for a bus and a taxi back to the hotel, where they spent another 12 nights before coming up with another plan.
Samantha's mother Deborah Savannah, 56, who also suffers from panic attacks, was flown over to calm her daughter down.
On August 15, a month after they had first stepped foot in Tunisia, she was coaxed onto the boat.
The ferry trip took them from Tunis to Marseille, where they boarded a £250 train to Paris before booking into a hotel and spending the night at £100.
They then got booked onto a Eurostar train to Ashford, Kent, where they were met by Samantha's dad and driven back to their home.
Samantha said: "I think in total we must have spent an extra £5,000 on a holiday that only cost us £1,600.
"The only saving grace were the hotel staff, they were absolutely fantastic."
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