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Australian Air SIN-CNS Trip from Hell

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Amerrican

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AO 7882 21 JUN
Since the AO 767's have been pulled from service (repainting, refit with business class), this segment flown with a QF 767, snagged C-class seat although no C-Class service being provided by AO FA's. Didn't care as flight leaves SIN at 10PM for 4 hour run to Darwin, 1 hour chinese fire drill, and then on to CNS.

Arrival at DRW was extremely hard landing on only one set of gear, even though little wind and no crosswind component. Upon disembarking at DRW (where Wifi is broken with no word on repair, what a dump of an airport), noticed large crowd of ground staff on tarmac looking at shredded tire. Then as flashlights pointed up, hole in wing apparent.

30 minutes later pilot comes out and admits what's happened, calls it "fluke", and says plane cannot leave without extensive repair involving parts from America.

This was the last time the truth was told to us that day.

First, DRW-CNS passengers "snuck out" of boarding area to join scheduled QF flight to CNS at 6 AM. Then SIN-CNS passengers told we would go thru customs in DRW, pickup and recheck bags, and go to breakfast at a ludicrously-named motel called the "Airport Resort". Of course all too late for anyone to get on the now-departed QF flight to CNS.

At breakfast, several passengers asked about getting rooms. Told by ground staff "none available", and almost immediately rebuked by hotel staff saying "no, we have rooms". LIE. Passengers, most of whom had already been travelling 20-30 hours (this flight the only Europe connection to Cairns) wanted at least to shower, etc. QF station manager Doug Chan then told passengers at 8:45AM "no time, a replacement 767 and crew have left SYD to pickup passengers, (LIE) please be back at airport by 1:00 PM". Passenger asks "are you telling us that the replacement is IN THE AIR at this moment?" Doug Chan says "Yes" (LIE) but stutters when he says it and several passengers chuckle. Most not FF and not used to QF ground staff lies.

Passengers at airport by 1:00PM, display at gate says "Boarding time 3:15, Departure time 2:30". Pointed out to agent this physical impossibility, and he snaps "you'll get on when it gets here".

Some passengers ask about chits for lunch. New QF station manager Karen Moore says "plane here soon, you'll get meal onboard". (LIE).

AO cabin crew (now off-duty and deadheading on the same flight to CNS) arrive at airport at 3:30PM, ten minutes before QF replacement touches down. Apparently they didn't get the same lies as the passengers. Noted that pilot and copilot not around, probably being beat with rubber hoses for telling passengers truthful story.

Managed to find out from new station manager Paul D'alissio, REAL station manager who wouldn't leave his office during incident. Calls to his office to discuss fiasco go unreturned.

QF flight leaves at 4:15PM, arrives CNS 6:30PM, 10 1/2 hours late.

In USA, an incident of this type allows passengers to invoke Rule 240, and fly on any other carrier to destination. Australia has no such protection, so passengers are force-fed lies and can't access rooms, meals, etc. from these cretins.

BTW, took taxi on my own into Darwin CBD, if you're ever there, give it a pass.

A.
 

Mal

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Definately a yucky situation. Could have been handled a lot better.

I would recommend passing your feedback to Australian Airlines (Qantas) via this link: http://qantas.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/qantas.cfg/php/enduser/ask.php

Ground staff are sometimes put into situations where they have little prior experience and don't handle the situation as well as they could. Maybe poor training from Qantas, but maybe also representative of the fact that Qantas doesn't have as many issues like these as some other airlines (esp. from Darwin!)

I agree Darwin CBD isn't that special, but there are some good tourist spots in Darwin, and I have thought that the view of the ocean from Darwin is particularly amazing. For tourists, Darwin tends to just be a springboard onto the other Northern Territory tourist places.
 
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markis10

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Sounds like a lot of fun, in similar situations I have rung the QF Club phone number to find out what is happening as they are often well plugged into flight ops, one of the benefits of getting some status with the airline. Sometimes they have been able to rebook me on to a later flight that day or next day, allowing me to control my travel to suit my needs, this happened last year in Hobart when a baggage handler ran into the plane with the conveyor, I rebooked for the next day rather than wait 4 hours for a VB flight.

I have travel insurance to cover things like hotels when there is more than a 2 hours disruption/delay - very handy!

As for the Darwin resort at the airport, it is a very fine hotel in comparison to many in Darwin and my favorite, at the end of the day Darwin is a small country town in comparison to other cities and should be viewed as such. There is a reason why its casino is a lot bigger than Cairns, there is not muich else to do there besides fishing and heading to Kakadu!
 

JohnK

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markis10 said:
...there is not muich else to do there besides fishing and heading to Kakadu!
Depends on what you want. Palmerston Country Club and Royal Darwin Golf Club were well worth the visit as was the "Glendi" Greek festival in Bicentennial park.
 

dajop

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markis10 said:
I have travel insurance to cover things like hotels when there is more than a 2 hours disruption/delay - very handy!
Some travel insurance policies won't cover additional expenses during delays if they were due to the fault of the airline (such as mechanical fault).
 

NM

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Your flight incident made the media!

From www.ntnews.com.au
Plane tyre blows in landing

ABOUT 150 passengers on a plane from Singapore had to extend their stay in Darwin yesterday after a tyre disintegrated on landing.

The Australian Airlines 767, en route to Cairns via Darwin, touched down with a bumpy landing about 8am yesterday.

Some passengers were delayed by more than six hours as the plane took minor damage to the underside of one wing from flying debris, forcing the airline to send another aircraft from Sydney.
 

Amerrican

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NM said:
Your flight incident made the media!
www.ntnews.com.au[/URL]
Of course it did, I called them! (Actually called the Cairns Post, who notified their Murdoch brethren in Darwin).
 
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NM

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Amerrican said:
Of course it did, I called them! (Actually called the Cairns Post, who notified their Murdock brethren in Darwin).
It seems the person they chose to interview had a slightly different view of the experience to yours.
www.ntnews.com.au said:
Passenger Stephen Carson, of Cairns, said: "It was a bit of a bumpy landing but no worse than normal. I was quite surprised when the pilot told us the tyre had shredded a bit and went through the wing.
and
www.ntnews.com.au said:
"The delay doesn't really worry me and it gives some people the chance to get out and see a bit of Darwin.

"I just wish I had something better to read than this Woman's Day."
But you did get a mention!
www.ntnews.com.au said:
The marine engineer, who was travelling home to Cairns after working in China, said the delay did upset some passengers.

"There were a couple of them making a big fuss about it," he said.
 

NM

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I guess in some ways this is similar to an incident I experienced in the USA recently with AA. But they handled the situation in a very different manner. Perhaps some lessons for QF/AO staff in Darwin.

I was scheduled to fly MIA-LAX with AA, with a 3 hour connection to a CX flight LAX-HKG. The MIA-LAX flight tookoff on schedule, but about 10 mins into the flight the captain announced there was a technical problem and we would be returning to MIA immediately.

Just before landing the captain announced the problem was due to indications of heat where there should not be heat in one of the 767's engines, and as a precaution we would be met by the fire engines for inspection as soon as we cleared the runway.

After sitting on the aircraft for about an hour, we were finally told the aircraft would take a long time to repair and we would be moving to another aircraft parked at another gate (a good 10-15 minute walk from where we docked).

At that time is was clear many people, including me, would be missing connections at LAX. So I high-tailed it to the new departure gate where we were told an agent would address our connection problems. I was first to arrive at the new gate and started a queue at the service desk. Well, the desk agent did not arrive until just before it was time to board, and she just made an announcement about changes to some AA domestic connections at LAX, nothing about international connection. We were all told to get on board the aircraft and they would sort us at at LAX.

We arrive at LAX just as my CX flight was departing (saw it taxi out from TBI as we taxied into T4). This was 1:30pm. The next flight to HKG was at 11:55pm and it was already oversold. The next flight was 1:55am and also oversold but AA was able to confirm me a J seat. The AAgent at the LAX Admirals Club was an angel. She tried all she could to get me onto the earlier flight. She also called CX to have my bags tracked down and re-tagged to KUL as my flight to HKG would now just make my next flight connection instead of being collected at HKG for my planned overnight hotel stay. She could not have been more helpful.

So I now had a 12 hour wait at LAX airport and finally arrived into HKG at 7am instead of 7pm the night before.

So what did AA do in the end? Without me making any contact, I received an email indicating the MIA station manager was concerned about my experience and AAdvantage have deposited 6000 AA miles into my account by way of an apology for the inconvenience.

And the cream was when CX gave me an operational upgrade to F on the LAX-HKG flight.

I know we like to bag the airlines from the LOTFAP, but in this case they did the right thing by me. Perhaps QF/AO should use this as a lesson on how to treat passengers caught up in flight delays. Some honesty, courtesy and apology for the poor experience go a long way towards customer satisfaction.

Have you received any response from QF regarding your experience?
 

Yada Yada

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Amerrican said:
In USA, an incident of this type allows passengers to invoke Rule 240, and fly on any other carrier to destination. Australia has no such protection, so passengers are force-fed lies and can't access rooms, meals, etc. from these cretins.
Interesting! Wasn't aware of this.

Thanks for the report, Amerrican.
 

Commuter

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markis10 said:
I have travel insurance to cover things like hotels when there is more than a 2 hours disruption/delay - very handy!
Hi Markis,

Would you be able to recommend the insurance company you're with? I'm after a decent policy.
 

markis10

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Commuter said:
Hi Markis,

Would you be able to recommend the insurance company you're with? I'm after a decent policy.
I use QBE, not the cheapest (this year paying $390), but they cover anything over 6 hours without an excess as in the case we are discussing, have a very good way of reimbursement for lost points and hire car excess is $4000.

I have made a claim with them in the past as a result of a trip cancellation during SARS and it was well handled!

For a little bit over a dollar a day I have piece of mind and the knowledge that I have some control over what is happening, for me it is also tax deductable so in fact is a lot cheaper.
 

NM

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Yada Yada said:
Amerrican said:
Originally Posted by Amerrican
In USA, an incident of this type allows passengers to invoke Rule 240, and fly on any other carrier to destination. Australia has no such protection, so passengers are force-fed lies and can't access rooms, meals, etc. from these cretins.
Interesting! Wasn't aware of this.

Thanks for the report, Amerrican.
Not that it would have helped much in this case. How many other carriers operate services between DRW and CNS?

According to the NTNews report on the incident, a number of passengers were accommodated on the QF flight (I assume QF801, the non-stop 737-400 service). The only other option would have been the QantasLink QF1943 717 one-stop service via Gove. But there are unlikely to be enough seats available on those two flights to re accommodate all the passengers from the stranded 767.

So in the end, the only choice QF had was to send a new aircraft. The issue at hand is regarding the accuracy and timeliness off the information provided by AO/QF staff to the passengers. It takes about 4.5 hours to fly a 767 from Sydney to Darwin, so if they were insisting the replacement aircraft was "in the air" any more than 4.5 hours before it landed, one can assume the information was not accurate.
 

Commuter

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markis10 said:
I use QBE, not the cheapest (this year paying $390)
Thanks Markis10. I take it that it's an International policy? It seems pretty cheap compared to the one that QF FF links to? I'll have a look at QBE's site - my biggest concern is cancellation and baggage loss.
 

markis10

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Commuter said:
Thanks Markis10. I take it that it's an International policy? It seems pretty cheap compared to the one that QF FF links to? I'll have a look at QBE's site - my biggest concern is cancellation and baggage loss.
No worries, I brought my cover from travel.com which offers a 20% discount, seems very similar to the QFF scheme at now where near the price, and it covers domestic as well as international trips. Like I said, great piece of mind when you travel a bit.
 

garyjohn951

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If you pay for your trip with Amex, the following should be of interest.

" Whether you're travelling overseas or within Australia, you will have the reassurance of this cover from American Express for those occasions when things don't go to plan. When your tickets are charged to your American Express Card, you are covered if you experience a delayed flight, a missed connection or delayed luggage.
The following inconveniences are covered:
  • Travel Delay — when your flight departure is delayed for 4 hours or more, your flight's cancelled, or you're denied boarding, you'll receive up to $200 for meals or hotel accommodation.
  • Missed Connection — if you've missed an onward flight due to the late arrival of an incoming flight, you'll receive up to $200 for meals and hotel accommodation.
  • Luggage Delay — when your luggage is delayed and not delivered within 6 hours of your arrival, you'll receive up to $500 for clothing and essential purchases.
  • Extended Luggage Delay — when your luggage is delayed for 48 hours, you'll receive an additional sum of up to $500. "
Used it in Cardiff when the bags didn't come from Paris. Were 2 days arriving so, got receipt, claimed 200 sterling off BA and $400 off Amex. BA took 6 weeks, Amex - 10 days from lodgement
 
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