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Virgin Australia Sydney operations incapable of dealing with stranded pax 24/8

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here2go

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I'm keen to vent and seek suggestions of what I should request from Virgin beyond serious grovelling for their complete inability to handle a large number of pax that missed their connection DRW-SYD-CBR in Sydney last night.

I received ample warning that my flight was going to be delayed via SMS, and was comfortable with not being in Canberra that night. Cool. At airport checkin, the Menzies Aviation operator had a few difficulties, but assured me there would somebody who could help me with accommodation, meals and transfers in Sydney at the gate.

A long litany of complaints were overheard on the flight - I was placed in the seat between a married couple, a guy who had paid for exit row with his 6ft 6" frame was denied the exit row at checkin. Things didn't seem right. Regardless, an uneventful flight, other than getting a meal of a sandwich, ANZAC biscuits and a bottle of sparkling water.

On arrival in Sydney, a notice to the pax connecting to MEL was made that their gate had changed. No mention of the Canberra pax. On disembarking, I was shocked. Unlike previous experience where I have missed a connection in BNE when flying SYD-BNE-DRW, there was nobody to greet us and tell us what to do, with a letter explaining where we were staying, hotels, etc.
I went to the staff at gate 36 where the plane disembarked. The staff had no idea we were coming, and muttered they wished somebody told them this was happening. After a few phone calls, we were told to grab our bag, and take a shuttle, "down the end" to the Holiday Inn. A football team in the same predicament had been advised in Darwin to go to baggage services in Sydney, and were given a hand-written piece of paper of where to go.

After making my way to the Holiday Inn, I found that I did not have a room, and was shown the list of pax checking in. At 2135, I spent 25m mostly on hold as they tried to work out what happened. I was advised their contractor had missed me, and were working on it. The staff at the Holiday Inn gave me a drink voucher by this time as it was after 10pm, and said I looked like I needed it (I rate the Paddo Pale), especially noting they were now full. No sooner than I had my first sip, Holiday Inn staff came over and told me to go to the Stamford, it had been sorted by Virgin.

A brisk 15 minute walk to the Stamford, and I get a call from Virgin telling me to go to the Stamford. By this time, I was checking in. Still, no explanation of my entitlements. The Stamford was quite nice, and do a surprisingly good room-service rendang. I ordered a glass of red with my $50 credit at the hotel.
On checking out this morning, I was told that I had to pay for the wine, as Virgin don't cover booze. I pointed out I have never seen any explanation of my entitlements. The fee was waived (probably charged back to Virgin).

I was disappointed that despite the 4+ hours warning (being the length of the flight, plus the messages we received advising us of changes before checking-in), there was nobody prepared for us (approximately 20 displaced pax) at T2. My personal experience of being missed added insult.

Have I been duly compensated despite the confusion? Should the ATR have been delayed for 10 minutes? Should I be seeking something else from Virgin for their complete lack of preparation at the terminal and then being missed completely. Would welcome your advice.
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Captain Halliday

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My advice is fly QF. Delays can happen for all sorts of reasons to all airlines. The difference between them is how they deal with it. In my experience VA still have a LCC mindset among staff when it comes to situations like this.

To your specific question about compo, I think you've got all you're going to get. And don't hold your breath for an apology.

Slightly OT: I see VA 1354 was also an hour late departing tonight.
 

here2go

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My advice is fly QF. Delays can happen for all sorts of reasons to all airlines. The difference between them is how they deal with it. In my experience VA still have a LCC mindset among staff when it comes to situations like this.

To your specific question about compo, I think you've got all you're going to get. And don't hold your breath for an apology.

Slightly OT: I see VA 1354 was also an hour late departing tonight.
I think the LCC analogy is harsh. While VA certainly have fewer frills, I thought Holiday Inn and $50 was reasonable compensation, and I have been treated well in the past in BNE with VA. My experience seems out of character based on chats I had with Holiday Inn staff last night.
BTW - when you are on a standard salary, the commuter flights to see family are based on the best fare of the day. Virgin almost always has won my custom, even if it means hanging around MEL for 6 hours to connect with the 0145 redeye. I am just glad that the commute will be over soon, with one more flight north followed with a road trip in convoy with walkie talkies and the family together en route to CBR through the glorious red guts of this wide brown land.
 
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smithy

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Feb 23, 2011
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I am going to agree with Captain Halliday, in that you have already been given compensation.
And regarding your other comment, I have done the long drive between DRW and CBR a few times, it is a great experience but avoid night driving if you can.
 
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