Routine Mackay flight delayed 12-hours
A FLIGHT of Qantas travellers were scrambling to rearrange plans Monday morning after a routine trip to Brisbane brought issue after issue over a 12-hour period.
A technical problem delayed their 5.45pm flight five hours, before it was completely cancelled and rebooked for the following morning.
Arriving to try again Monday, passengers were again left waiting a further two and a half hours before they were allowed to board.
They complained they were provided with minimal communication about the issue or support from staff.
"Obviously flights get delayed we understand that," disgruntled customer Amy Moore told The Daily Mercury.
"But the issues started when firstly they were not telling us what was going on, they didn't change the screens, they didn't announce anything, everyone was left wondering what was happening.
"It wasn't until we started to all line up and complain after hours that they decided to do something."
Ms Moore and her partner were not on a strict deadline, as they were picking up a car and driving it home, but she said some passengers were in tears in fear of missing connecting flights and bookings, many heading overseas.
"It is actually my birthday tomorrow (Tuesday) so we were hoping to get there on time so we didn't need to spend the whole thing in a car, but we really felt for the other people on that flight.
"There were people crying, it was just honestly really badly handled, they needed to organise it way better, we will never fly Qantas again after this experience, not because of the delay but how it was dealt with."
Ms Moore said passengers discussed expecting far better communication, particularly for such long stints and some were even afraid as they boarded, knowing they were walking onto the same plane that had "clearly had some major problems" hours prior.
According to airline data, Qantas, as well as sister budget airline Jetstar are repeat offenders for delayed flights in and out of Mackay Airport. A Qantas spokesperson said maintenance, operational requirements and weather were the main reasons for delays, and that staff did their best to maintain sufficient communication.
"From time to time all airlines can experience disruptions to their flights for weather or operational reasons," the spokesperson said. "We know that can be frustrating for our customers but we'll always put safety ahead of schedule.
"When disruptions do occur, our teams are focused on ensuring our customers are kept updated and minimising the impact by operating additional flights."
In the last week at Mackay Airport there have been more than 20 reported delayed flights across all airlines, with several exceeding three hours.
However, Mackay Airport general manager, Rob Porter, said across the board Mackay Airport rates highly in on-time performance, achieving a 4-star rating out of a possible five in the most recent OAG On Time Performance report, which rates airports around the world.
"This report showed over 85 per cent of flights into and out of Mackay Airport were on time, this reflects well on the people who work at the airport and the functionality of its equipment and services such as check-in and baggage handling," he said.
"Airlines and airports work very hard to minimise delays but some do occur at times and they can be caused by multiple factors. Delays can occur anywhere across an airline's network and end up impacting operations at Mackay Airport.
"Most delays are the result of an airline doing everything they can to ensure the safety of their passengers, for example waiting for dangerous weather conditions to pass, carrying out repairs on an aircraft or replacing it.
"Airlines have various systems in place to help look after their passengers when delays occur and as an airport we provide assistance where we can with aspects such as communication to passengers in the terminals."
Many Qantas passengers travelling to and from Townsville share similar experiences at the weekend, with several of the airlines' services grounded.
"Maintenance requirements" were blamed for five return Townsville flights being cancelled between Friday afternoon and Sunday.
Problems continued to plague the Qantas schedule Sunday night with the 7.15pm flight to Brisbane cancelled.
A Qantas spokeswoman said earlier yesterday two additional Townsville-Brisbane services ran on Saturday in an effort to minimise disruptions.
"We've apologised to passengers flying on some of our Townsville flights who experienced disruptions to their travel plans over the last few days," she said.