Photography: Phil Noble/Reuters
Qantas has apologized to passengers after a flight delay left hundreds of people stranded at the Dallas airport for 24 hours, with many sleeping on the hard ground.
QF8 service from Dallas Fort Worth to Sydney on Wednesday was initially delayed due to an engineering issue, according to Qantas.
The issue took longer than expected to resolve and, as a result, pushed the flight’s projected arrival time in Sydney into the curfew window, meaning Qantas had to delay the flight a second time.
Related: Rude start to vacation for travelers as lack of Qantas staff leads to luggage delay
Angry passengers complained that after the flight was delayed, Qantas staff had not booked accommodation for all of the 300 or so passengers, and that they were forced to book accommodation themselves.
Eleanor Gordon-Smith, who is also a columnist for Guardian Australia, tweeted that when passengers were told the flight would not take off at around 2am, Qantas staff told them to book their own hotels and keep receipts so they could be reimbursed.
“So people with liquidity took a $100 uber to the only hotel. The rest slept on the floor. 9am when we were told to check in…no Qantas staff came,” she tweeted.
Gordon-Smith also complained that airline employees did not report further delays and were not on site to explain to stranded passengers what they should do. She said children and older travelers with walkers were among those who ended up sleeping on the airport floor.
Gordon-Smith said that when passengers gathered for the rescheduled flight hours later, none of the ground crew came to the airport.
“By this time, it’s Lord of the Flies. A plane full of people is checking in with nowhere to go and no guidance, the Qantas counter is not only unmanned, it has become a Lufthsana (sic) counter and 300 people have checked bags to nowhere,” he said. Is it over there.
“The staff at *DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport)* had to say, ‘We’re trying to get in touch with the Qantas team, they’re not responding, we don’t know why,’” she said.
Brynn O’Brien, another passenger on the plane, also tweeted that there were no Qantas staff at the airport to assist passengers after the initial delay.
“Of course the team was doing their best under dire circumstances last night, but there is simply no team in place today to update/help people stranded at the airport,” O’Brien said.
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Shortly after 3:30 pm Sydney time on Thursday, a Qantas spokesperson said the flight had taken off – about 23 hours after its scheduled departure.
“We know this is a difficult situation for our customers whose plans have been put on hold and we apologize for the inconvenience,” he told the Guardian.
“Our team at the Dallas Fort Worth airport provided assistance to customers after the initial delay and is assisting customers before the delayed departure,” the spokesperson said.