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Qantas apologises to hundreds of passengers left stranded at US airport

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<span>Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

Qantas has apologised to passengers after a flight delay left hundreds stranded at Dallas airport for 24 hours with many left to sleep on hard flooring.

The QF8 service from Dallas Fort Worth to Sydney on Wednesday was initially delayed due to an engineering issue, according to Qantas.

The issue took longer than expected to resolve and, as a result, pushed the flight’s projected arrival time in Sydney into the curfew window, meaning Qantas had to delay the flight for a second time.

Related: Bumpy start to holidays for travellers as Qantas staff shortage leads to luggage lag

Furious passengers have complained that after the flight was delayed, Qantas staff did not book accommodation for all of the roughly 300 passengers, and that they were left to book accommodation themselves.

Eleanor Gordon-Smith, who is also Guardian Australia’s advice columnist, tweeted that when the passengers were informed the flight would not take off at about 2am, Qantas staff told them to book their own hotels and keep receipts so they could be reimbursed.

“So the people with liquidity took a $100 uber to the only hotel. The rest slept on the floor. 9am when we’d been told to check in … no Qantas staff came,” she tweeted.

Gordon-Smith also complained that the airline workers failed to communicate further delays and were not on site to explain to stranded passengers what they should do. She said that children and older travellers with walking frames were among those who ultimately slept on the floor of the airport.

Gordon-Smith said that when passengers assembled for the rescheduled flight hours later, not one ground staff member came to the airport.

“By this point it is Lord of the Flies. A planeload of people is at check in with nowhere to go and no guidance, the Qantas desk isn’t just unmanned it has become a Lufthsana (sic) desk, and 300 people have checked bags to nowhere,” she said.

“The *DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport) staff* had to say ‘we’ve been trying to reach the Qantas team, they are not answering, we don’t know why’,” she said.

Brynn O’Brien, another passenger on the plane, also tweeted that there were no Qantas staff at the airport to help passengers after the initial delay.

“Staff of course were doing their absolute best in awful circumstances last night, but there just aren’t any staff on the ground today to update/assist people stuck at the airport,” O’Brien said.

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Shortly after 3.30pm Sydney time on Thursday, a Qantas spokesperson said the flight had taken off – about 23 hours after its scheduled departure.

“We know that this is a difficult situation for our customers whose plans have been disrupted, and we apologise for the inconvenience,” he told the Guardian.

“Our team at Dallas Fort Worth airport provided customers with assistance after the initial delay and are helping customers ahead of the delayed departure,” the spokesperson said.

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