As many Australians embrace travel again, Covid continues to wreak havoc, with some travellers encouraging others to “get a grip” amid the uncertainty.
Travellers were stuck in limbo this week after Qatar Airways left hundreds of passengers stranded in hotels across Auckland for three nights with no information as to why their Sunday flight to Doha failed to depart.
According to passengers, the flight was cancelled after check-in and following two delay announcements, with Qatar staff instructing travellers to make their way to the airline’s check-in desk, which required completing the arrivals process and going through customs despite having not travelled.
After collecting their baggage, passengers were then taken to a hotel and advised to await further instruction. But the stranded travellers quickly took to Twitter to complain about the lack of communication from Qatar Airways.
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“@qrsupport your customer service is atrocious [sic]. #qr915 cancelled over 24 hours ago in Auckland. No direct communication from #qatar. Hotel have told us we have another 2 nights booked so we assume no flight planned tomorrow either. Please can somebody tell us when we are flying!” one frustrated traveller tweeted.
Another passenger said they were experiencing the same issue, tweeting “still no word from the airline. I mean literally no word. Nothing,” two days after the unexplained delay began.
“This episode has well and truly entered the realms of the surreal. I mean, maybe Qatar airways doesn’t actually exist,” he continued.
Passengers eventually departed on Wednesday evening, with the airline citing “extraordinary circumstances” for the delay. While some airline staff believe the delay relates to COVID-19, other insiders have cited a major engineering fault with the plane.
It comes amid complaints from Qantas frequent flyers over the airline’s use of paper plates in the Sydney Business Lounge.
The uproar began after one traveller posted her frustrations to Facebook, saying, “In the Business Lounge in Sydney Domestic terminal. I know this makes me a snob, but paper plates? Really?”
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One respondent to the post said the use of paper plates was due to “a major fault with the dishwasher” which was “awaiting repairs,” while another described the situation as “not good enough”.
“I flew to Brisbane on the 1st of May and that’s the excuse they gave me then. It’s simply not good enough … and no, I don’t have to be happy about it,” they said.
While membership to the Qantas Business Lounge set travellers back $699 per year, some travellers had little sympathy for the complaint, with one commenter replying, “At Hungry Jacks downstairs I have my burger in a piece of paper or in a paper box, seriously get a grip people.”
A Qantas representative confirmed the use of paper plates to Escape Travel, saying it is a temporary measure while major repairs to the lounge’s dishwasher take place, and say it is not related to ongoing Covid-19 staff shortages.
The complaints come just weeks after Qantas left passengers travelling from Australia to the UK without their luggage for up to six days due to last-minute weight restrictions.
British Airways has also come under fire in recent days after announcing it would cancel over 100 domestic and international flights due to ongoing Covid-19 staff shortages. Popular budget airline EasyJet has also cancelled a slew of flights for similar reasons, throwing the travel plans of tens of thousands of people into chaos.
Covid case numbers are once again climbing in Australia as winter sets in, with some airports facing staff absentee rates of up to 20 per cent, which is having a clear impact.
In April, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the delays and ongoing issues are part of “dealing with the aftermath of coming out of Covid”.
Mr Joyce implored travellers to “be patient” – a request likely to be echoed again over the coming months.