Culture & Society News Poland

Stranded at Prague Airport for 4 days, Polish citizen finally finds way home

Still of Tom Hanks in The Terminal, directed by Steven Spielberg

Prague, Czech Republic – After being stranded for four straight days in Prague’s Vaclav Havel Airport due to restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, a Polish citizen was finally able to go back home this week.

Pawel Jurski, a Polish man who was attempting to return from the Netherlands to Poland via the Czech Republic, was forced to stay in Prague airport for several days after authorities refused to let him enter Czech soil.

According to the Czech News Agency, M. Jurski had jumped on the opportunity to board a plane from the Netherlands to the Czech Republic after KLM resumed flights between Prague and Amsterdam earlier this month.

While the Czech Republic has slowly been reopening its airport and flight connections, Poland’s borders remain largely closed, and all international civilian flights banned.

Pawel Jurski was hoping to enter Czech territory and continue his journey to Poland by land. However, Czech authorities refused entry to the Polish citizen, forcing him to stay stranded in the Prague airport’s transit zone for four days, while relying on vending machines to get food and drink.

Tom Hanks in The Terminal (2004), directed by Steven Spielberg. Credit:

The man said that the Polish embassy had informed Czech authorities of his transit plans through the Czech Republic ahead of his arrival, as required by the current anti-coronavirus travel restrictions.

Despite partially reopening its borders, shut down since a state of emergency was declared more than two months ago, the Czech Republic has maintained strict entry conditions for non-Czech citizens. Only foreigners with a valid residence permit, EU citizens living and working in the Czech Republic or foreign nationals with a Czech family member are allowed to enter – along with a few other exceptions allowing short-term stays for business purposes or travelers in transit.

Thankfully for M. Jurski, his ordeal came to an end on Thursday, when he was picked up at the airport by the Polish consul in Prague, who helped him find his way back home.

The details as to how exactly the whole situation was solved remain unclear.

M. Jurski’s adventure evidently reminds us of Steven Spielberg’s 2004 classic The Terminal, where a citizen from an unspecified Eastern European country finds himself stranded in a New York Airport.

Fun fact, The Terminal was actually one of the many movies Steven Spielberg worked on with long-time collaborator Janusz Kaminski, a Polish cinematographer and director of photography on numerous other Spielberg films (Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, Bridge of Spies, Munich…).

Sadly, Tom Hanks’ fictional story has become a rather common and not-so-fictional ordeal for many people in recent weeks, as travelers across the world scramble to make their way back home amidst the chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.