On Friday, Hai Ling Pole had booked a flight home to Brisbane after a work trip to Sydney.
- A 1.5-hour return flight from Sydney turned into a five-hour trip for Mr Pole
- Airports are under increasing pressure across the country due to accumulated demand for travel and school holidays
- There is currently a ‘post-COVID record number’ of people traveling via Brisbane International Airport
A few days earlier, he had received an email that his 3 p.m. departure time had been brought forward by two hours.
He didn’t think about it much.
On the morning of his Virgin Australia flight, Mr Pole, who works in the consultancy, tried to check in online.
“It said ‘you can only check in 48 hours before your flight’, which confused me a bit,” Mr Pole said.
“Honestly, I thought I had done something wrong.
“Then I received an email [with the new flight details]I checked the flight date and it said July 11 – next Monday.
” I was shocked. I’m fine with delays of a few hours either way, but three days is a bit excessive. »
Mr Pole said flying to the Gold Coast was his only option.
“I tried to get another flight later in the day but it was all cancelled,” Mr Pole said.
“There were hardly any direct flights… there was only one flight available [that day] and it was $930.
“I managed to book a flight to the Gold Coast and from there…had to take a train to Brisbane. »
A 1.5-hour return flight from Sydney turned into a five-hour trip.
“It would have been nice to have at least a reason given, an explanation,” Pole said.
“The Virgin Australia hotline is a real nuisance…wait time was an hour, I just hung up.
“I had to work, but my whole day is gone.
“I arrived at the airport at 9.30am… and I don’t get into Brisbane until 5pm. »
Flight cancellations, delays causing havoc for travelers
Mr. Pole’s experience is not isolated, with airports coming under increasing pressure across the country from pent-up demand for travel and school holidays.
Brisbane Airport’s head of public affairs, Stephen Beckett, said weather disruptions in flood-ravaged New South Wales and COVID and flu-related staff shortages were also contributing to delays and delays. flight cancellations.
“In the past seven days, there have been 2,953 scheduled flights [in and out of Brisbane] and of that number, 229 were canceled, or about 7% and a little,” Mr. Beckett said.
“We have seen some of our airline partners having to cancel flights due to the impact on their crew.
“The impact is not great for those [affected].
“We understand that when airlines cancel a flight or there is a long queue at the airport, it can be quite frustrating. »
Mr Beckett said 50,000 passengers passed through Brisbane’s domestic terminal on Friday and high demand is expected to continue over the weekend and into Monday.
“The airport is very busy as Queenslanders return from school holidays and our friends from the south head towards us as their holidays are just beginning,” Mr Beckett said.
“We’re hiring extra people and putting in extra staff during these peaks, so it’s served us well.
“Please arrive early, pre-book your Ubers and taxis as we hear people are being short-changed with wait times, and consider using the Skytrain.
“Show up 90 minutes before your domestic flights… check in online and if you’re traveling with carry-on luggage, it’s a way to skip the queues.
Mr Beckett said there were “record numbers of post-COVID people” traveling via Brisbane International Airport, but he said changes to COVID vaccination requirements for overseas travelers were “accelerating” the waiting time.
“Before, you had to prove your vaccination status, fill in digital passenger cards and things like that,” he said.
“We are now back to the same paperwork you needed before COVID, nothing else and it will reduce processing times at the international airport. »
Demand “significantly higher” than at Easter: Virgin
Virgin Australia said the number of travelers traveling during these school holidays was 15% above 2019 levels and was “significantly higher” than during the Easter holidays.
“Airports and airlines around the world are seeing huge demand as travelers return to the skies as pandemic restrictions ease,” a company spokeswoman said.
Virgin Australia customers can get a refund or travel credit if a suitable flight is not available to replace the one they booked.
Passengers whose flights are delayed overnight can receive $220 for hotel accommodation, $50 for meals, and reimbursement for the cost of airport transfers and “reasonable personal items.”
“I’m lucky to have been able to stay with my family,” Pole said.
“But I have the funny feeling that $220 wouldn’t have helped much for three more nights if I had to stay at the hotel. »
Job , updated