DECEMBER 31 2016 – 9:51PM
Hundreds of frustrated Qantas passengers will be ringing in 2017 stuck in transit in Dubai but not the airline’s boss Alan Joyce.
Several passengers have told Fairfax Media that Mr Joyce was a passenger on the first of two Qantas flights to experience lengthy delays in Dubai while travelling from London to Sydney.
While hundreds of passengers remain stranded in Dubai for New Year’s Eve, it is understood Mr Joyce flew out along with other travellers who were transferred onto another Qantas flight to Sydney.
A technical problem grounded the A380 QF2 at Dubai International Airport. While passengers were moved to hotels for the night, a second Qantas flight arrived from London.
Travellers from the first plane who were scheduled to fly out on Thursday waited roughly 24 hours before they could board a flight to Sydney.
This group of passengers, including Mr Joyce, were transferred onto the next QF2 flight on Friday, which left the the next group of up to 480 Qantas travellers – who were originally booked on the flight – stranded in Dubai after arriving from Heathrow Airport, London.
It is understood the decision was made to minimise delays for both groups of passengers, rather than leave the first group delayed for two days. https://twitter.com/annie_parker/status/814969125109833728
“Passengers on Qantas flight QF 2 from Dubai to Sydney have been put up in hotels due to an engineering issue with the aircraft,” a spokesman for Qantas said.
“The engineering assessment is continuing and, once resolved, we’ll be able to provide an updated arrival time.
“We’re keen to get passengers on their way, but only when it’s absolutely safe to do so. We thank everyone for their patience,” the spokesman said.
“Gutted that I’m missing NYE in Sydney,” one passenger posted to Facebook as he used the social media site’s “check-in” function at a Dubai hotel.
One delayed flyer told Fairfax Media she woke up to find a letter pushed under her hotel room door advising she will be departing on a flight at 4.30pm Dubai-time (11.30pm AEST), in contrast to information accessed on her smartphone on the Qantas app which pointed to an earlier 11am flight, which was then pushed back 20 minutes.
An update from Qantas puts the departure time of Flight QF2 at 11.20am Dubai-time (6.20pm AEST).
Passengers have since reported that after being brought to Dubai International Airport by coach, they were told the planned flight had been cancelled, and are now queueing to be re-routed.
The quiet delivery of a letter fits in with a wider complaint of a lack of access to any Qantas representatives – something which seems to be only adding to the stress as minimal information filters through.
“I think we’re all frustrated to be missing New Year’s Eve as we’ll now be spending it on a plane,” the passenger said. “Qantas ought to have had someone at the hotel to answer our questions but instead have been nowhere to be found. That’s the frustrating part.”
“No one has seen anyone from Qantas. When I called the Qantas service desk this morning they had no idea what was happening and had to put me on hold a few times to try to find out. The hotel put letters under our door,” she said.
Another Sydneysider caught up in the delays, Mia Parkes-Talbot, told Fairfax Media of the “zombie-like” state of many passengers as hours and hours went by.
She said updates came only as new estimates appeared on overhead screens, while Emirates staff were unable to provide further information – with Qantas staff unavailable.
Ms Parkes-Tablot describes herself as one of the lucky ones, spending hours in a premium economy lounge after using frequent flyer points – points she hopes are refunded.
“Economy was in a holding bay! We saw them wheeling in bottles of water and snacks after about 6 hours,” she said. “They were stuck – not even in the airport with food and shopping.”
On Sunday at 11pm, Qantas released an update on the Flight QF2 delay situation, stating that the affected 480 passengers will be flown back to Australia on alternative Qantas services as well on other airlines.
In the meantime, affected passengers “will continue to be put up in hotels at Qantas’ expense until they can be booked on another flight,” the statement said.
A handful of travellers, their friends and family members have left angry complaints and requests for updates on the Qantas Facebook page.
“I’ve been delayed for 8 hours in Dubai airport. You sent people that you delayed yesterday off on my plane and now I’m stranded [sic],’ read a post on the Qantas Facebook, which appeared at approximately 10 pm Friday (AEST).
“Stuck in Dubai over night due to the cancellation of flight QF2 caused a technical malfunction (second day running) [sic].
“You’ve put us up in a lovely hotel but we have no idea what time we’ll be leaving tomorrow. What time do we set our alarms for please? Help and communication would be great. Lots of uncertainty. Thanks,” posted another commenter just after 4am on Saturday (AEST).
“Hi Qantas, whats happening with your flights from Dubai? A friend is stranded there for days and may even miss NYE in Sydney. Whats the story?”
The airline’s flight tracker says the flight is due in Sydney at 7.45am on Sunday.
Passengers who boarded the earlier flight, which had been delayed on Thursday, have arrived in Sydney.
with James Lemon
Source : The Canberra Times