Virgin Australia’s long-haul network is in disarray after one of the airline’s Boeing 777s was taken out of service nearly two weeks ago. As a result, multiple Virgin Australia flights between Australia and Los Angeles have been cancelled or rescheduled over the past weeks. The affected aircraft is still undergoing maintenance.
Virgin Australia has just five Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which it uses for its flights between Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Los Angeles. One of these five aircraft, VH-VPH, had to be taken out of commercial service in Los Angeles on 14 June due to a major mechanical problem, reportedly related to the aircraft’s fuel tanks.
The affected aircraft was ferried to Boeing’s maintenance facility in Victorville last Sunday, where it remains for the time being. Virgin Australia says the aircraft is currently being repaired and that the airline expects it to return to service “soon”.
In the meantime, thousands of Virgin Australia customers travelling to or from Los Angeles have been disrupted by lengthy delays and flight cancellations. The airline is unable to operate all its regular scheduled flights with only four long-haul aircraft, so many flights have been retimed with morning departures from Los Angeles or evening departures from Australia.
There have been reports on AFF that Virgin Australia has only been willing to re-book delayed passengers on other Virgin or Delta flights between Los Angeles and Australia, resulting in some passengers waiting for days in Los Angeles for a seat to become available.
A Virgin Australia spokesperson told Australian Frequent Flyer, “we’ve contacted all guests who have had a change to their itinerary and we’ve rebooked them onto other Virgin Australia services, Delta Air Lines, or other airlines where available. We’re sorry to guests for any inconvenience caused and have tried to minimise any delays to under 12 hours and provide guests with sufficient notice.”
One AFF member, mjt57, had a nightmare trying to rebook after their Virgin Australia flight to Los Angeles was rescheduled, resulting in a missed connection to New York. As the booking was originally made with Webjet, Virgin was unable to help until 24 hours before departure. Eventually Virgin rebooked this member onto a suitable alternative flight. Webjet failed dismally to assist.
Thanks again folks. After an hour on the phone to VA we now have a connecting flight to NY. Original schedule was having us arrive in JFK at 1800hrs Tuesday. Now it’s 0600 Wednesday. Better than a kick in the ****, I s’pose.
If anyone from Webjet is reading this, tell your management that your processes suck.
Qantas too has recently had problems of its own, after one of its Airbus A380s was hit by a catering truck in Los Angeles on 10 June. That particular aircraft is now back in service.
Meanwhile, Air New Zealand is currently leasing an EVA Air Boeing 777 to minimise the disruptions to its network caused by unscheduled maintenance being carried out on its Dreamliners.
Have you been impacted by the Virgin Australia Los Angeles delays? Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: What happened to VH-VPH? [773 Out of Service since Jun 14th]