ADL - SYD Flight Diverted to MEL on 14 March due to storms in Sydney

By MuzzH | Mar 15, 2019, 01:43 PM
I seek some advice from my well-travelled colleagues.

My wife (QFF Gold) was booked on QF766 from ADL - SYD on Thursday, 14 March. With the wild storms in Sydney, the departure was pushed back from 6.15 to 8.15pm. The plane took off and made it to just west of Wagga before it was put into a holding pattern - seeing this on Flight Tracker, a shudder ran through me.

To cut a long story short, the flight was eventually redirected to Melbourne. She landed at about midnight. Passengers were off-loaded and the crew told people to get to the Qantas Ground Staff as quickly as possible as a diverted flight from Perth was about to land. The Ground Staff were handing out $200 accommodation vouchers and $30 meal vouchers. All pretty typical for a flight re-directed due to (really) bad weather in Sydney.

My wife has no issue with the delay or the re-direction to Melbourne. Much better to be safe than sorry.

The issue we have is the way that Qantas badly handled the passengers:

1. There were no hotel rooms available in Melbourne - it is the Grand Prix weekend and the voucher is dated 14 March. When this was pointed out to the Ground Staff, one of the Agents said: "Not my problem". This begs the question why the flight was no re-directed to Canberra, Brisbane or sent back to Adelaide?
2. There were no food outlets open to make use of the food and beverage voucher that is dated 14 March - they close at 11.00pm;
3. The Qantas Lounge was closed and despite there being a number of people forced to wait in the terminal overnight, Qantas made no attempt to offer the passengers - some were Plats and P1's and many were aged over 65 - anywhere to spend the evening. They were not offered airline blankets not even a bottle of water. My wife did not sleep a wink;
4. To cap it all off, my wife's bags did not get on the flight from ADL - despite the fact she was at the airport 1.5 hours before the flight was scheduled to depart, let alone the 2 hours delay - so Qantas cannot get a bag onto a plane in 3.5 hours? The Baggage staff in Melbourne told her they were amazed the flight ever left ADL as they knew it was going to be diverted due to the weather.
5. My wife and about 30 passengers stood outside the Qantas Club at 4.30 this morning, hoping to get access to a shower, a warm drink or even somewhere 'safe' to try and get some sleep. When the Club staff arrived, a passenger asked if they could access the lounge and the staff member told them no - the club opens 1 hour before the first flight (ie in another 30 mins). When a passenger explained their situation (everyone who was gathered were all on flights diverted and they could not get hotel rooms overnight so had spent the evening in the terminal), the staff member said: "that's not my problem, Darl".
6. Upon arrival in Sydney, the Qantas Valet Parking tried to charge my wife for the extra night!

All in all a shocking night for Qantas when it comes to dealing with Passengers - especially those who are most loyal to the airline - we have never stepped foot on a Jetstar, Virgin or Tiger flight and are only members of the QFF Programme.

So, it is worth complaining? Who should we complain to - AJ, the QFF Centre?

It would be nice for her to receive an apology - some sort of admission that the Qantas staff 'stuffed up'.

Am I wasting my time? Should I just take beloved out for a meal and put the whole incident down to bad luck?

Many thanks, Muzz (QFF Platinum)
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By aklrunway | Mar 15, 2019, 01:52 PM
Landing at Canberra at midnight would have meant no ground staff there to meet the aircraft.
Adelaide has a curfew of 11pm. There is always a reason why, it’s not always obvious
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By MuzzH | Mar 15, 2019, 01:57 PM
Many thanks Aklrunway - the flight started its first holding pattern west of Wagga Wagga at 9.20pm - so it could have made it back to ADL or on to CBR or BNE before any curfew issues arose, but I do appreciate your advice.
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By Mightyreds | Mar 15, 2019, 03:04 PM
Many thanks Aklrunway - the flight started its first holding pattern west of Wagga Wagga at 9.20pm - so it could have made it back to ADL or on to CBR or BNE before any curfew issues arose, but I do appreciate your advice.

Like Melbourne, Brisbane doesn't have any curfew. Not only that, there are 3 hotels (Sofitel, Novotel & Ibis) located at the airport so it might have been the better option.
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By dp | Mar 15, 2019, 04:09 PM
Remember, this would not have been the only flight that was diverted - so it probably bad luck that this flight got Melb. And as the weather band also included Brisbane, it may not have been possible to divert to there. And of course, any long haul flights that needed diverting usually get priority due to fuel factors. Multiple diversions cause this sort of havoc - part and parcel of travel. As far as keeping the club open - it is a nice idea, but how do you get the staff at short notice? The way it was handled could have been better from a PR standpoint, but the actual outcome for passengers would most likely be the same. Last time this happened to me, a $200 voucher for future travel and an apology arrived the next week.
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By Grannular | Mar 15, 2019, 05:07 PM
Surely there had to be some rooms available. Can't imagine the whole of Melbourne completely booked out on a Thursday. I understand rooms from earlier diverted flights would have snapped up a lot, but with 34k hotel rooms in Melbourne, it really surprises me that your wife had to sleep at the airport. Even with F1 this weekend, I just did a quick search for tonight(Friday night) and there is no shortage of rooms available.
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By TJS | Mar 15, 2019, 10:56 PM
I had the same a few weeks ago. Hotel airports sold out, city airports packed. Ended up at the Best western Reservoir (on my own research). If your wife couldn’t find accom herself, I wouldn’t blame Qantas for not being able to find accom either. If the city is full, its full.

I was flying last night from Melb to Bnenas well and it was a chaotic. Staff said they had 8 slots into Sydney cancelled. I saw on flight radar that BNE-Syd flights (QF551 for example) returned to BNE, and whether also surrounded Brisbane. I agree about the Valet situation, but hopefully when your wife explained to the otherwise unaware staff it was sorted.
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By Johnny9 | Mar 16, 2019, 12:46 AM
yes, do complain - call QF and demand apology and ask for compensation (at least the Valet $). They prob won't care too much but worth a try. In general, they need to be better organised with IRROPS
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By Traveller14 | Mar 16, 2019, 12:10 PM
I agree that you should complain. 5000 extra FF points as 'compensation' would be insufficient.

However if your wife (or you) had looked at the various online travel agents such as booking (dot) com or others, somewhere in the suburbs there would have been a room available: as one other above implied, the northern suburbs would probably be one option. And city hotels have no shows, although $200 may be not sufficient at the four star ones to find a room booked on day of travel.

Diversions depend on availability of handlers at airports, how much reserve fuel the captain has loaded, whether there's space available (if not a gate, parking on the apron) and many other factors. However, it may have been irresponsible for QF to have the plane depart ADL as there were further heavy SYD storms forecast and unfortunately when these occur, there's a compounding bankup of planes in the air (and on the ground) that cannot land or depart from their scheduled airport.

At most airports due to bright lighting, even if they had recliner chairs a la Changi (which MEL does not), it's impossible to sleep so sympathies to your wife.
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By airADL | Mar 16, 2019, 02:28 PM
Everytime I have been diverted or cancelled flights QF booked the hotel for me.
It has been a while ( thankfully ) has this changed or was there no hotels too book?
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By Mark Sydney | Mar 16, 2019, 02:50 PM
I seek some advice from my well-travelled colleagues.

My wife (QFF Gold) was booked on QF766 from ADL - SYD on Thursday, 14 March. With the wild storms in Sydney, the departure was pushed back from 6.15 to 8.15pm. The plane took off and made it to just west of Wagga before it was put into a holding pattern - seeing this on Flight Tracker, a shudder ran through me.

To cut a long story short, the flight was eventually redirected to Melbourne. She landed at about midnight. Passengers were off-loaded and the crew told people to get to the Qantas Ground Staff as quickly as possible as a diverted flight from Perth was about to land. The Ground Staff were handing out $200 accommodation vouchers and $30 meal vouchers. All pretty typical for a flight re-directed due to (really) bad weather in Sydney.

My wife has no issue with the delay or the re-direction to Melbourne. Much better to be safe than sorry.

The issue we have is the way that Qantas badly handled the passengers:

1. There were no hotel rooms available in Melbourne - it is the Grand Prix weekend and the voucher is dated 14 March. When this was pointed out to the Ground Staff, one of the Agents said: "Not my problem". This begs the question why the flight was no re-directed to Canberra, Brisbane or sent back to Adelaide?
2. There were no food outlets open to make use of the food and beverage voucher that is dated 14 March - they close at 11.00pm;
3. The Qantas Lounge was closed and despite there being a number of people forced to wait in the terminal overnight, Qantas made no attempt to offer the passengers - some were Plats and P1's and many were aged over 65 - anywhere to spend the evening. They were not offered airline blankets not even a bottle of water. My wife did not sleep a wink;
4. To cap it all off, my wife's bags did not get on the flight from ADL - despite the fact she was at the airport 1.5 hours before the flight was scheduled to depart, let alone the 2 hours delay - so Qantas cannot get a bag onto a plane in 3.5 hours? The Baggage staff in Melbourne told her they were amazed the flight ever left ADL as they knew it was going to be diverted due to the weather.
5. My wife and about 30 passengers stood outside the Qantas Club at 4.30 this morning, hoping to get access to a shower, a warm drink or even somewhere 'safe' to try and get some sleep. When the Club staff arrived, a passenger asked if they could access the lounge and the staff member told them no - the club opens 1 hour before the first flight (ie in another 30 mins). When a passenger explained their situation (everyone who was gathered were all on flights diverted and they could not get hotel rooms overnight so had spent the evening in the terminal), the staff member said: "that's not my problem, Darl".
6. Upon arrival in Sydney, the Qantas Valet Parking tried to charge my wife for the extra night!

All in all a shocking night for Qantas when it comes to dealing with Passengers - especially those who are most loyal to the airline - we have never stepped foot on a Jetstar, Virgin or Tiger flight and are only members of the QFF Programme.

So, it is worth complaining? Who should we complain to - AJ, the QFF Centre?

It would be nice for her to receive an apology - some sort of admission that the Qantas staff 'stuffed up'.

Am I wasting my time? Should I just take beloved out for a meal and put the whole incident down to bad luck?

Many thanks, Muzz (QFF Platinum)

I was also on that flight. Under the circumstances, the Qantas staff did what they could under very difficult circumstances. A few other observations:

1) Nobody suffered so much as a broken fingernail - better than being on a 737 Max ?

2) QF did what they could to get people back to SYD. They don't control the weather (do you ?)

3) SYD's Curfew will not be addressed anytime soon - especially in an election year

4) QF remains the safest airline in the world after 100 years of operation. Safety before service - perhaps a water landing on Sydney Harbour might have been an option ?

5) There were approx 500 tired and frustrated people being served by 5 (?) QF staff at midnight on Thursday - no doubt at the end of a long day. Some small minded QF passengers had a clear case of brain fade and wanted to argue with the ground staff after assuming the "tea-pot position" with hands on hips puffing like a steam train as to why QF didn't have a fleet of limo's waiting to take them to the Penthouse Suite at a 5 star hotel.

6) The QF Lounge - a place of Safety (?) didn't see any armed guards at the front door last time I checked in for a flight. There were 100 people in the airport, covered by CCTV Cameras. Bars in the CBD have a higher risk profile.

7) Staying in Adelaide would have been just as bad, if not worse, given the same issues re hotel rooms being available, not to mention the fleet of 150 Limo's would be hard to find in ADL.

8) We all made it home alive - less a few meetings that people probably didn't need to attend to anyway ?

You say "a shocking night for QF when it comes to dealing with Customers..."

Really ??? I was in the US on January 30th when trying to fly into Chicago when it was minus 40C and the way US Carriers deal with passengers is far (far) worse than this. In this case, QF did a much better job than United.
Last edited by ChrisCh at Mar 21, 2019, 02.10 PM.
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By Mark Sydney | Mar 16, 2019, 03:24 PM
yes, do complain - call QF and demand apology and ask for compensation (at least the Valet $). They prob won't care too much but worth a try. In general, they need to be better organised with IRROPS

Complain ??

Whilst you're at it - demand an apology from the Weather Gods too - and then get Slater and Gordon to start a class action.

We landed in Melbourne (not in the middle of a war zone in Afghanistan...) as that was the safest thing to do under the circumstances - and the crew and pilots did a great job as always.

Sure, QF doesn't get it right all the time, but they sure focus on the right things when it counts, and we all got home without a scratch.

And, as a QF Platinum (how that has anything to do with things I simply don't know), I've spend enough time on aircraft to see the best and worst of QF. But in 100 years, they're still the world's safest airline so we all need to give them credit for that, and the way they handled Thursday night.

You want to go play in the deep end of the pool - I just did Air India SYD > DEL in Row 1 and had direct visual on the staff sitting near the door. Safety was abysmal, so many of the basics were not adhered too - like staff texting on take-off (should have taken photos).

Last edited by Mark Sydney at Mar 16, 2019, 03.30 PM.
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By fadz | Mar 16, 2019, 04:24 PM
There was only the one flight diverted to CBR which was a virgin flight from Brisbane. There were also a few international diversion to Mel including emirates a380 and Hawaiian airlines so would explain how busy it was
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By MAK | Mar 17, 2019, 10:05 AM
Ive had two overnight delays in the past year - one in SYD due to storms and one in LAX due to aircraft issues (on a crappy 747). Whilst id not complain on the delay itself I have to say the way Qantas handles these issues is terrible! They need some serious training and upskilling and develop better processes and systems for delays. Queueing until 5am waiting for an accomodation voucher in LAX with two tired young children was so stressful and it didnt need to be.
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By MuzzH | Mar 18, 2019, 07:35 AM
Many thanks for your feedback and comments. As I said in my original post we have no issue about the re-direction as weather is beyond the control of anyone, my gripe was the way Qantas poorly handled the situation - you cannot tell me that every Qantas staff member clocked off after the last flight landed. Working in a customer related field I know all too well how a simple bottle of water, a blanket and 'we are sorry' would have been appreciated by the passengers.

To the long standing members of this Forum, many thanks for your comments, suggestions and feedback.
Last edited by ChrisCh at Mar 21, 2019, 02.11 PM.
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Adethya Sudarsanan

By henri9 | Mar 18, 2019, 01:51 PM
yes, do complain - call QF and demand apology and ask for compensation (at least the Valet $). They prob won't care too much but worth a try. In general, they need to be better organised with IRROPS

Complain ??

Whilst you're at it - demand an apology from the Weather Gods too - and then get Slater and Gordon to start a class action.

We landed in Melbourne (not in the middle of a war zone in Afghanistan...) as that was the safest thing to do under the circumstances - and the crew and pilots did a great job as always.

Sure, QF doesn't get it right all the time, but they sure focus on the right things when it counts, and we all got home without a scratch.

And, as a QF Platinum (how that has anything to do with things I simply don't know), I've spend enough time on aircraft to see the best and worst of QF. But in 100 years, they're still the world's safest airline so we all need to give them credit for that, and the way they handled Thursday night.

You want to go play in the deep end of the pool - I just did Air India SYD > DEL in Row 1 and had direct visual on the staff sitting near the door. Safety was abysmal, so many of the basics were not adhered too - like staff texting on take-off (should have taken photos).

Last edited by henri9 at Mar 18, 03.00 PM.

Are we patting Qantas on the back for not crashing the jet now? Are our standards expected to be so low that we aren't allow to offer feedback on anything as long as we didn't die?

Frankly, getting the plane on the ground when you can see a storm 400km out is kind of expected. Australia has never had a fatal passenger jet accident (any airline) so whilst it's great that QF hasn't either, it might be that QF benefits (as does Virgin and as did Ansett) from doing much of it's flying in what is basically a desert. Let's not let that get in the way of expecting decent service.

If Qantas wanted to bring in a few staff to a) supplement the existing staff or b) attend to the little things (water, snacks, skeleton staff the Qantas Lounge) they could. They just don't want to because of $. I don't have a strong view about that either way, but let's not pretend it isn't doable.

OP - if i were you i'd be attempting to get a decent number of FF points out of them as compensation. I wouldn't expect any more than that.


Last edited by henri9 at Mar 18, 2019, 03.00 PM.
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