Parneet Kaur's heart broke when she signed in to yesterday's MIQ room release to see she was number 23,200 in the queue.
She was among the 31,319 people vying for 3800 rooms in the second virtual lobby MIQ voucher release last night.
The Auckland woman's brother died unexpectedly in India on June 22 and she's been trying to secure a spot in MIQ ever since.
She's desperate to get to India to support her mum and farewell her 29-year-old brother but can't risk being stuck there away from her job, husband and toddler.
"It was such a heartbreak that I couldn't say goodbye," she said. "I haven't had closure."
The shock of her brother's death and her inability to secure a spot in MIQ have seen Kaur spiral into depression for which she is receiving counselling and taking medication.
"This is the worst time in my life, going through this."
She applied for an emergency MIQ allocation soon after her brother died but bereavement was not one of the criteria at that time.
The death of a close relative was added to the list of reasons for which an emergency allocation could be granted at the start of this month but the application had to be made within seven days of the death.
Kaur said her mother was struggling to come to terms with the loss and deal with the legal side of things which was taking a toll on her health as well.
Now Kaur is worried she could also lose her mother before she can make it to India to visit.
"She's the only family I have."
During the first room release under the new virtual lobby system, Kaur found herself at about 4000 in the queue but by the time she had a chance to book there were only October rooms left, which would have left her only days to get there and back.
"The first time there was hope but yesterday, that just broke my heart. It just adds to the stress and anxiety I have."
All the rooms released last night were snapped up in just over two hours, with December slots gone within 48 minutes.
But, joint head of MIQ Megan Main said more rooms would be available to be booked next Tuesday, although the time and number of spaces was yet to be confirmed.
"I know that, again, thousands of people missed out on vouchers in tonight's release. We understand this is a difficult and frustrating time for many who want to travel; whether that be for business or to return home," she said.
"I want to reassure people that there are still several thousand vouchers still to be released through to the end of the year. They will get other chances through regular lobby releases."
Prior to yesterday's room release, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said 12,000 rooms would be released in the next few weeks.
"The reason we stagger those releases is because some people may have urgent needs that only arise say, in October and November and it allows those people to get equal access if those needs arise a little closer to the time," she said.
But that would have come as little comfort to Kaur and the tens of thousands who again missed out.
At 6pm yesterday, those signed into the lobby were moved into a randomised queue and those at the front were able to start booking.
By 8.10pm, 6231 people from 125 countries had made bookings across 3718 rooms.
Those who secured a voucher then had 48 hours to confirm and enter flight details.
Any cancelled bookings would be rereleased in the next virtual lobby rather than automatically being rereleased into the system when they came up, as was the case with the old booking system.
Last week more than 5300 people also secured MIQ vouchers via the first virtual lobby.
Main acknowledged the new system did not solve the issue of supply and demand but said she believed it "improved user experience". The old system required people to be logged in all the time, constantly refreshing the page in the hope they would be the first to snap up any newly released rooms.
Last night there were 1434 rooms available for October, 1600 in November and 684 for December.
By far the largest number of people who secured rooms were travelling from Australia (1629), with Great Britain next at 791 passengers and India third with 647 passengers.
Top countries of departure (by passenger numbers)
• Australia — 1629 passengers
• Great Britain — 791 passengers
• India — 647 passengers
• USA — 495 passengers
• China — 263 passengers
• Singapore — 212 passengers
• Argentina — 203 passengers
• Canada — 179 passengers
• Philippines — 130 passengers
• Hong Kong — 113 passengers
• Germany — 93 passengers
• Korea — 93 passengers