Five-year-old girl will go with her family to watch Wales play in Qatar thanks to MailOnline

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Five-year-old girl will go with her family to watch Wales play in Qatar thanks to MailOnline
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A family whose dream of flying to Qatar was shattered by their five-year-old daughter’s visa are celebrating a famous World Cup victory today – thanks to MailOnline.

Rhian and Andy Hayes are finally heading to the Gulf state with their daughter Orla and son Harrison, eight, after being contacted by Qatar Airways who offered to take them on the “next available flight” to Doha.

The family had saved up for three years for the one-off £7,000 trip and had tickets for four matches.

But their World Cup dreams appeared to be in tatters when they were turned away at the Qatar Airways check-in counter at Heathrow Airport on Wednesday morning.

A failure in Qatar fans’ identification system called Hayya meant that Orla’s visa application was not officially approved until 12 hours after their flight took off and the family were forced to return home to Newport, South Wales.

After MailOnline revealed the family had been “completely gutted” by the failure of the system, senior officials from the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee, which organizes the tournament, have intervened on their behalf.

Ravi Rhian, 39, said: “You got us sorted. Thanks a lot. We really appreciate everything. We are so grateful.

The Hayes Family Finally Head To The World Cup In Qatar After Being Kicked Out Of The Airport

The Hayes family finally head to the World Cup in Qatar after being kicked out of the airport

Orla (Left) And Harrison (Right) Are Now

Orla (left) and Harrison (right) are now ‘so excited’ to see four matches in Qatar

Mother Rhian Said They

Mother Rhian said they were “looking forward” to traveling to Doha for the tournament after senior Qatari officials intervened to help them.

“We are going to the World Cup and we cannot wait. The children are so excited.

“We really wanted to go to the World Cup. We wanted to experience it. It’s such a big event and we can’t wait to watch the football.

Rhian – who supports her native Wales with Harrison and Orla – told how she and her English husband Andy, 43, planned their World Cup trip after visiting friends who live in the state of Gulf in 2018.

They booked their flights for their two-week holiday in January and were delighted when Wales progressed to their first World Cup final in 64 years.

With the help of their friends, with whom they are staying in Qatar, they were able to buy 11 tickets for four group stage matches for £1,500.

They included Wales’ games against the United States and Iran.

Official Rhian said: “Let’s just hope Wales get through.”

Describing how the family learned the trip was back, she said: “My husband received a phone call this morning from the managing director of Qatar Airways saying that the senior Supreme Committee official had been in touch with him and they just settled..

The Hayes Family's Hopes Of Seeing Wales At Their First World Cup Since 1958 Seemed Dashed When Five-Year-Old Daughter Orla (Left) Arrived At Heathrow Airport With Her Visa Application Not Approved .

The Hayes family’s hopes of seeing Wales at their first World Cup since 1958 seemed dashed when five-year-old daughter Orla (left) arrived at Heathrow Airport with her visa application not approved .

The Welsh Family Saved £7,000 Over Three Years To Book Their Dream World Cup Trip

The Welsh family saved £7,000 over three years to book their dream World Cup trip

“We packed our bags and got in the car and headed to the airport.

“We had update after update and many phone calls. They were brilliant.

“We were given a contact number for someone to meet us at the airport so we could go straight through. They sent us all the details in writing so we could book our parking and everything.

A spokesperson for the Supreme Committee said: “Qatar Airways is pleased to say that it has spoken with the Hayes family and accommodated them on the next available flight to Doha on Saturday evening.”

“They can now look forward to enjoying the trip of a lifetime to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and supporting the Wales team in person.”

Rhian thanked Qatari officials for intervening on their behalf, adding: “There was a problem in the Hayya system and I hope now no one will find themselves in the same situation.”

MailOnline have told how the family suffered a breakdown in the system set up to fast-track fans’ entry into Qatar.

This meant Orla’s application, which was expected to take less than five days to be approved, was stalled for 10 weeks.

The family were informed that the application had been approved on paper, but there was no confirmation on the official Qatar 2022 app.

They told how Qatari officials advised them to sort out the issue when they arrived at Doha airport on Wednesday evening.

The family traveled overnight, arriving at Heathrow at 5.30am on Wednesday before queuing for their Qatar Airways flight for an hour and a half.

But when they finally reached the check-in counter, they were told their daughter wouldn’t be able to board without her digital ‘QR code’.

Rhian said: “They wouldn’t let us take the flight. There was no support there.

“We spoke to an airport official and he said ‘No. You can’t get on that flight.” There was no kind of “What a horrible situation you’re in, let’s just see if we can phone someone for you”. It was so unfair.

Describing the impact of the failure, Rhian said: “We feel absolutely gutted for the kids. We had been saving for this for years and it comes at a time when you have just been hit by a financial crisis. It’s just devastating.

“I hope it doesn’t scare the kids. It was all about my five year old.

“She apologizes saying ‘I’m so sorry’. We try to tell her ‘It’s not your fault. It’s the system’s fault.” All she hears is Oral Hayes, Orla Hayes. We can’t fly because of Orla Hayes. Poor thing.

“My son desperately wanted to go to the World Cup. He’s a big football fan – he’s obsessed.

“It’s devastating for him. Getting all that ripped off for no reason is just awful.

The Hayya system was put in place to speed up visa applications for World Cup fans and simplify the travel process.

Fans with tickets and accommodation must apply for a digital Hayya card which allows entry into Qatar as well as stadium access and free transport while in the country.

After Being Heartbroken By The News, The Family Were Overjoyed To Be Able To Fly Off On Their Long-Awaited Vacation

After being heartbroken by the news, the family were overjoyed to be able to fly off on their long-awaited vacation

The family applied online in mid-September and quickly received approval for everyone but Orla.

Rhian told how they spent weeks trying to resolve the issue with emails and phone calls as their five-year-old’s application remained stuck on ‘pending’.

She said: “My daughter’s application was submitted at the same time as ours. Myself, my husband and my son have all been approved.

“Both children were placed on my husband’s Hayya because that’s how the system works for dependents. It didn’t make sense that my five year old wouldn’t pass.

“We started to worry. We called Hayya who at the time seemed very helpful.

“There were email exchanges and phone calls after phone calls.

“All they kept saying was ‘We’re going to raise this and let them know’, but nothing was happening.”

“Then it came to two weeks before we left on the trip. It was getting ridiculous.

“We had two families on opposite ends trying to sort this out. Our friends in Qatar were going to immigration on their side. They were told the visa was there, but there was an error with the link on the application.

“Qatar Immigration Department said he was approved on the exact same date as you three, but something happened in the system where he just got stuck.”

“We never had the status approved. It was like she was stuck in the system and no one could escalate or do anything about it.

“We called them and called them. They kept saying we promised it would be fixed within 24 hours but it never was.

“On Monday we were panicking. We called them again. We were advised to continue traveling and sort out the issue in Doha.

“He said ‘Don’t worry. We will leave no one behind. You will take your flight and we will give you your physical copy when you arrive in Doha. “

“We took them at their word. We went to Heathrow on Wednesday but they wouldn’t let us catch the flight. It was a real mess.

The family spent hours at the airport trying to resolve the issue and were told they would have to shell out almost £5,000 to book new flights.

But they couldn’t afford the extra cost and decided to go home as they still didn’t have an endorsement for their daughter on the Qatar 2022 app.

Rhian said: “We came home with two exhausted children. To put salt in the wounds, my daughter was approved at 8 p.m. that evening. It just happened on the app.

“We thought it was ridiculous. We ran for weeks. We were absolutely sorry.

“It was a slap in the face for us that we got home and it was finally approved.

“They waited until we missed our flight before putting it on the system. It just made us feel even worse.

She added: “It has been emotionally draining. You are a little angry.

“It all happened because the system is not working as it should. Presumably, it was designed to make everything easier for fans.

“The whole trip was ruined because nobody wanted to make it worse and there was nobody we could talk to about why it hadn’t been sorted out.”

Wales kicked off their World Cup campaign against the United States at 7pm UK time on Monday.

They will face Iran at 10am on Friday November 25 before taking on England on Tuesday November 29 in their final group stage game.

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