FURIOUS passengers have told of chaotic scenes at Sydney Airport a day after it was hit with a crazy storm.
Wild weather including lightning strikes, hail and flooding rolled through Sydney yesterday, forcing flight cancellations, and the chaos is continuing today with numerous delays.
Kieran McGregor, from Melbourne, is among those affected. He is getting married in just a few hours, but as he gears up for the most important day of his life his hopes of two dear friends making it along are all but dashed.
One of his wedding guests who was due to fly to Melbourne last night was rebooked to fly out tonight — the only problem is the ceremony will be over by then. His other friend will also arrive too late.
“They’re going to miss the event,” Mr McGregor told news.com.au. “We are going down the aisle just after 3pm, it’s an afternoon tea and service all rolled into one.
“Qantas are just completely unhelpful.”
That’s despite his desperate attempts to get the airline’s attention on social media.
“Thanks @Qantas for booking my friends cancelled Sydney flight to 5pm tomorrow. He’s missing my 3pm wedding,” Mr McGregor tweeted to the airline.
Alas, he was stunned by their response, which offered an apology but no resolution.
“We’re sorry for the inconvenience Kieran. There have been multiple flight disruptions in Sydney due to the weather. In these cases, we’ll rebook affected passengers on to the next available service. Your friend is welcome to discuss available options with our team on 13 13 13.”
When contacted by news.com.au regarding the delays, Qantas said it has been working to get passengers on their way as fast as possible, while Sydney Airport acknowledged that “all delays are a response to weather”.
My friend missing my wedding is apparently an inconvenience. I’m furiously appalled at the lack of care and refusing to try to get my friend on a flight until tonight.— kieran mcgregor (@KieranMelb)
“We know delays are less than ideal, but our operational teams are working to get customers affected by the Sydney storm on their way as soon as possible,” a Qantas spokesperson said. “We thank our customers for their patience and understanding. Customers on cancelled services last night have been provided with meals and accommodation.
“We encourage customers to check Manage Your Booking for updates or contact us via Facebook Messenger or Webchat on Qantas.com”
The problem, in situations like these, is call wait times can be extreme. Kieran’s friend was on hold for over an hour before giving up, and said that airport staff were extremely unhelpful.
So he made another attempt to get the airline’s attention, but says they have now gone “silent”.
“My friend missing my wedding is apparently an inconvenience. I’m furiously appalled at the lack of care and refusing to try to get my friend on a flight until tonight,” he tweeted.
And again: “Two people need to be on flights ASAP. We go down the aisle at 3.08pm.”
Still, no luck.
Mr McGregor’ said his friend was told by flight crew that only Melbourne locals would be given priority to board an earlier flight.
A third wedding guest caught up in the flight dramas managed to get to Melbourne in time, but only after forking out an extra $800 for a business class seat.
Stuck on tarmac at Sydney airport… LIGHTNING🌩️⚡⛈️ pic.twitter.com/OtBWyFM37J— Doodledogs (@doodledogs1960)
He said while he understands that weather events happen, “Qantas has clearly not managed the utter chaos”.
“I get that storms create chaos, and it’s out of their control but I thought if someone had reasonable request such as ‘I’m going to a wedding, can you help me’, they would help,” he told news.com.au.
Another stranded traveller jumped in on Mr McGregor’s twitter thread, also slamming the way Qantas has been dealing with the situation: “You need to do better @qantas after five hours at the airport last night — I waited for an hour on the phone in the wee hours of the morning and ended up giving up. Just tried again now — to be told there is an hour-long wait. There needs to be a better alternative.”
Another passenger jumped in to urge the airline to help Kieran: “Come on @Qantas social team pull your finger out and help this guy out! Calling the 131313 number isn’t going to help. You’ll be on hold for hours. Hope it works out mate.”
Showing that Mr McGregor is far from alone in his frustration, Twitter user Kewan voiced his concern for the way his parents Jayne and Peter have been treated at the airport.
He tweeted: “Just spoke to my parents who have had no sleep for 30+ hours. Been stuck at Sydney airport due to QF864 cancellation. They have been at airport since 3pm yesterday. @Qantas staff have been disgusting and rude. Mother is in tears. @Qantas is an embarrassment to Australian tourism.”
Earlier he posted: “@Qantas shameful service at Sydney airport … No staff to help. No answer on customer service phone number. Waited 3 hours in a rebooking queue, no idea where baggage is.”
Kewan told news.com.au that there was little communication from staff, and says the customer service was lacking.
“My parents said they tried to lie down on the floor to rest and be first in line for any earlier flights. The staff member said something along the lines of ‘well that didn’t help you very much did it’.
“Staff were saying ‘Well we can’t control the weather, its not our fault’. But they can control their customer service or put more staff on to help stranded people when circumstances like these arrive.”
Just spoke to my parents who have had no sleep for 30+ hours. Been stuck at Sydney airport due to QF864 cancelation. They have been at airport since 3pm yesterday. @Qantas staff have been disgusting and rude. Mother is in tears. @Qantas is an embarrassment to Australian tourism— Kewan (@AnotherTwit)
But it’s not just Qantas that is feeling the strain. Mumbrella’s Paul Qallbank tweeted, along with a photo of a crowded terminal: “We’re overbooked. Really impressed with @virginaustralia’s impersonation of United Airlines.”
— Paul Wallbank (@paulwallbank)
Another traveller lamented the lack of food and hours spent waiting on the tarmac.
End of flight saga. 8 hours from entering plane to leaving. No food only water (no wine!!). Most of that time on tarmacs. Sydney airport was still in absolute chaos at 1 in the morning.… https://t.co/x3jCY8YuqE— Belle Lightfoot (@Bel104)
Fellow passenger Tom Forbes was also not impressed: “There’s obviously no accountability on your part for the storm, but the emergency response to the crisis from @SydneyAirport was abominable, and at least invisible.”
Earlier, passenger Sarah MacDonald wrote of the chaos: “I’m going home lucky me. To all those people at Sydney airport waiting for bags I hope you get them. Or a flight. Or home. Sydney Airport disgraceful management by you — no one on duty to brief the media, no info releases on social media. We understand a storm. But COMMUNICATE.”
I’m going home lucky me. To all those people at Sydney airport waiting for bags I hope you get them. Or a flight. Or home. Sydney Airport disgraceful management by you – no one on duty to brief the media, no info releases on social media. We understand a storm. But COMMUNICATE— Sarah Macdonald (@sarahvmac)
ILL-TIMED TWEETS RILE UP FLYERS
Social media users have also been left scratching their heads over ill-timed tweets from Sydney Airport and Virgin amid the chaos.
Virgin posted a dreamy image of a plane on the tarmac along with the caption: “Friday afternoon is cleared for takeoff. Where do you wish you were taking off to?”
One traveller responded: “Stuck in Sydney terminal waiting for bag! Really wanted to see my kids before bed! Looks like we’ll be here for a while.”
Stuck in Sydney terminal waiting for bag!! Really wanted to see my kids before bed! Looks like we’ll be here for a while. 😔— Lara (@Lara390_lara)
“Wish I was taking off to Adelaide but stuck at Sydney Airport,” another said.
An hour later, Sydney Airport posted a similar inspirational plane photo, with the jet cruising off into the sunset.
Passengers were quick to point out that it was a very strange thing to post at a time of weather chaos.
Ain’t nothin’ like cruising off into the sunset on a Fri-YAY! ✌
📷 Seth Jaworski pic.twitter.com/YQJXt8Kujr— Sydney Airport ✈️ (@SydneyAirport)