- A Qatar Airways flight that was supposed to depart on Sunday night was canceled after passengers had already checked in.
- The travelers have been put up in Auckland hotels for three nights.
- Passengers are frustrated by the lack of information from the airline and say they have not been adequately compensated.
Passengers forced to spend three nights in Auckland hotels after their Qatar Airways flight failed to take off say they have not been adequately compensated for their experience.
The flight to Doha via Adelaide was scheduled to depart at 6.25pm Sunday. Qatar Airways says the plane was grounded due to a technical issue, believed to be birdstrike, and passengers will now depart on Wednesday evening.
The airline said all passengers were given hotel accommodation and three meals a day while the alternative flight arrangements were made.
However, passengers Stuff Travel spoke to say this has not been good enough, with several having to cover the cost of their own meals while staying in the hotel.
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One passenger, who asked not to be named, said the hotel they were staying in didn’t have a restaurant, so they were instead given a $ 25 Subway voucher each day.
Sharon Chelmis, a Kiwi who normally lives in Greece who had been in New Zealand visiting family, has been put up in the Parkside Hotel on Grays Ave.
Arriving late on the Sunday night, there was no food available at the hotel, so she ordered Uber Eats. She was later told there would be a continental breakfast provided, but that was it.
“I just assumed from what used to happen in the old days, we would get a food voucher,” she said.
Chelmis said she was too worried to leave the hotel for the first day, not wanting to miss any updates from the airline. The hotel had initially said they would be leaving Monday, but later said they would be staying until Wednesday.
She had called Qatar Airways “four or five times”, but no one she spoke to had “a clue what was going on”. Like other passengers, she only learned the flight had been rescheduled when she received an emailed itinerary with the new flight details.
Chelmis said when she asked a staff member at the Qatar Airways call center what she should do about food, they just told her to lodge a complaint.
“It’s just been outrageous,” she said.
Angela Bruce and her partner, who were traveling to Greece for work, were sent to the Airedale Boutique Suites on Queen St on Sunday night, before being moved to the President Hotel on Victoria St on Monday.
The couple said they had received “nothing” from the airline in terms of food vouchers.
When they received their updated itinerary from the airline, they found they had been downgraded from business class to economy on the new flight.
“There was no accompanying message saying ‘sorry, we’ve had to downgrade you’ – nothing,” Bruce said.
“It was only because we looked through it and saw we were in economy.”
Bruce said they were waiting to see if their travel agent would be able to get them on a different flight where business class was available, however, most flights appeared to be booked out for weeks.
“We just don’t know what we’re going to do at the moment. We’re just frustrated sitting here in a hotel waiting, like we’ve been waiting since Sunday night. “
It was too late for Graeme Thomson, who had booked flights to Madrid to attend the Europa League final on Thursday morning (NZ time) to support the Rangers from his native Scotland, who are playing against Eintracht Frankfurt.
“It was a once in a lifetime trip – us getting into the final is outrageous,” said Thomson.
After Sunday’s flight was canceled, Thomson and his three travel companions were sent to Auckland City Hotel on Hobson Street.
Thomson said staff at the Qatar Airways check-in desk had told them when they arrived at the hotel they would be given food and drink vouchers for the night, and would receive a text message before midnight to update them on what was happening with the flight .
“They said it’s going to fly tomorrow,” Thomson said.
But when they arrived at the hotel late on Sunday night, they found staff weren’t expecting them, and there was no food available. They also didn’t receive any communication from the airline.
On Monday afternoon, they were told by the hotel that the flight wouldn’t be leaving until at least Wednesday.
Realizing they wouldn’t be able to get to Madrid in time for the football final, at that point Thomson decided to cancel the trip, organizing flights back to Wellington at his own expense.
Thomson said he has spoken to Qatar Airways who have confirmed they will refund the affected legs of the flight – from Auckland to Doha, and Doha to Madrid – but have not said whether they will cover the other costs incurred by the canceled flight.
More than anything, he was frustrated by the lack of communication from the airline.
“Had we known on Sunday there was no flight available … we could have maybe booked on a different flight,” he said.
“But it’s now too late for us, unfortunately.”
Flight issues started in Doha
Meanwhile, a passenger on the inbound flight from Doha to Auckland said staff were seen “running around” at Hamad International Airport before their flight was delayed for 12 hours.
Yolande Smith, who was traveling back to Auckland from her father’s funeral in Johannesburg, said the flight was supposed to take off from Doha at 1.30am on Saturday. Passengers were waiting at the gate and ready to board when there was an announcement to say the flight had been delayed.
“We saw the staff running around. They were checking the airplane and talking with each other, ”she said.
Smith said after half an hour, there was another announcement to say they would now be boarding at 4am. But when she checked her Qatar Airways app, she found the flight departure was now saying 12pm.
She went to the kiosk where staff confirmed the flight would not be leaving until midday.
“They didn’t say you can go to a lounge or we’ll book you in at hotel – they just gave us some food vouchers and said we could go to the food court to get something to eat,” she said.
“There were families with small children lying on the floor trying to sleep.”
The flight eventually took off, touching down in Adelaide before continuing to Auckland, landing at 3.14pm on Sunday afternoon.
Smith said the pilot made an announcement acknowledging the delay, but no reason was given.
“We still have no idea why that all happened,” she said.
She had made a complaint to the airline about the experience but was yet to hear back.
Qatar Airways has been approached for comment.