Steven, a 32-year-old caregiver from the UK who has lived in Australia for several years, was passing through France during the first interrupted summer in Europe in three years before travel came to an abrupt halt.
Its 9pm Sunday evening flight was repeatedly delayed until midnight, and airport staff then informed weary passengers that it had been cancelled.
Desperate to get back to London on time for work on Monday morning, Steven and his pal found two strangers willing to share a $1,340 Uber on the other side english channel.
“We were told no one would be going to Gatwick by Wednesday, we checked the rates from Heathrow, it would be $1,000 the next day,” he told the Daily Mail Australia.
“The thought of a $1,000 plane ticket, hotel expenses, and another day of eating, drinking, etc. quickly made us decide that, if at all possible, we would come home that night.”
A healthcare worker paid more than $1,340 for an Uber from Paris to London after his flight was delayed three hours on Sunday night and then cancelled
Steven (pictured), 32, was forced into dire circumstances to return to his shift on Monday morning
Steven said after a three-hour delay, the only thing the airline offered them was an $8 voucher for Pret a Manger, a popular British grocery chain.
As his shift approached, he and his friend asked if they could rent a car and drive through the Calais Tunnel before two American girls overheard their conversation.
They were studying a six-week exchange course in economics at the prestigious Yale University in London and had to return to the capital for their first day on Monday morning. They agreed that they would travel together.
Car hire companies told the group they would not be allowed to drop off the car in England and passengers would not be able to board the tunnel until 9am – meaning they only had one choice.
“In desperation, I was flipping through my phone apps and came across Uber,” Steven said.
“I thought ‘What the heck’ and typed it in. I was offered around €700 ($1,040).”
Steven said it was complete chaos at Charles de Gaulle after the flight to London was canceled – with people scrambling to get home before Monday
The prices for the following day were far too expensive if you include an overnight stay in Paris
The healthcare worker, his buddy, and their two new American friends left Charles de Gaulle Airport and set out to find a driver who could fulfill their request.
“The first couple of riders slammed it on the head and canceled. One driver was initially interested and luckily for us one of the girls spoke some French and started negotiating. He accepted the distance of the drive but when we asked him if he had his passport on hand as he needed it in England there was a lot of confusion,” said Steven.
“At the end he said he will check it and after five to ten minutes he told us it was not possible. At that point we thought that would be a common issue but the next man also accepted the fare and when we explained the passport situation there was again a lot of confusion but he said he would discuss it at the airport when he sees us .
“When he showed up we asked if he could go home and get his passport, but it turned out he was carrying it in a little fanny pack as ID anyway and was happy to take us with him.”
Steven said their French driver never seemed to care about the length of the journey and was smiling and playing music for us the whole time.
The journey itself took about six and a half hours, in the middle of the night.
They negotiated a payment of about €600 (about $900) plus the fare for the round trip through the Channel Tunnel, which was €238 (about $350).
They negotiated a payment of about €600 (about $900) plus the fare for a round trip through the Channel Tunnel, which was €238 (about $350).
The drive took about six and a half hours, with Steven saying the driver was smiling and happy to have music playing the entire time
“The grand total was about $370 each, and we drove to London in a beautiful new Mercedes SUV with fluffy carpets and huge black leather seats,” Steven said.
“Considering the fact that we left around 1am French time there was virtually no traffic and more importantly no queues at the Channel Tunnel so it was all pretty smooth.
“The driver was super helpful when explaining with the French at the border crossing our situation and the purpose of our trip, especially on behalf of the Americans as the border control asked a lot of questions about their stay.”
After dropping the group off at Gatwick, the driver said he would take a “quick nap” before driving back to Paris.
“He was a total soldier,” Steven said.
He admitted he missed the start of his shift, but made up for it by working overtime while the American girls arrived in time for their opening lecture.
Despite the ordeal, the 32-year-old said he would definitely take a long-distance Uber trip again and even said he prefers it to air travel.
“It was absolutely worth it. I probably wouldn’t recommend it if it wasn’t in the middle of the night as it was easy for us with no queues or rush hour traffic,” he said.
“But given the alternative options, flights would have cost £500 each to arrive later than us and at the wrong destination, and that is before the additional costs of hotels, food, drinks and transport to get from Heathrow to Gatwick (where our cars are parked) .
“I would go so far as to say that if I went back to Paris I would check out an overnight Uber before checking flights!”