150 Delayed Travelers Forced to Sleep on Boxes, Chairs in Cold Airport

  • Qantas diverted flights due to fog, leaving passengers stranded overnight in an airport, per reports.
  • The airline said the crew had timed out and it couldn’t find accommodation for the passengers.
  • Passengers told the media they were left to sleep in cold, uncomfortable conditions in the airport.

More than 150 passengers were forced to sleep in an airport terminal because their flights were diverted and the crew reached their working-hours limit, according to media reports on Tuesday.

Two Qantas Airways flights from Broome and Newman, in West Australia, were due to head to the southern city of Perth on Tuesday. But the plane was diverted 420 kilometers away from the passengers’ intended destination, Geraldton Airport, WAtoday reported.

Passengers on the flights had to spend Tuesday night in Geraldton Airport because the cabin crew ran out of flying time, per WAToday. ABC News reported that more than 150 people were affected.

Photos posted on Twitter appear to show passengers sleeping on the floor of the airport.

Qantas confirmed in a statement to WAtoday that the crew on the two flights, which diverted to Geraldton Airport, couldn’t continue to Perth because they had hit the limit on the hours they can work.

Australia’s flagship carrier said the statement the flights were rerouted from Perth because fog around the airport meant it wasn’t safe to land the plane, per WA today.

Kim Nicholls, who was on the flight from Broome, told Radio 6PR, the crew announced to the passengers at 2 am that they would have to stay at Geraldton Airport overnight because there was no accommodation available.

Nicholls told Radio 6PR that she only had one hour of sleep and some passengers were sleeping on cardboard boxes or chairs.

Another passenger, Andrew Dymock, told ABC News the temperature in the airport dropped to 4.8 degrees Celsius and there was barely any food or blankets.

“We attempted to find last-minute accommodation for all customers of these flights but unfortunately, due to a shortage of available hotel rooms, customers stayed in the airport terminal overnight,” Qantas said, per WAtoday.

Qantas apologized to the passengers, acknowledging they would have experienced an “uncomfortable night,” but said the weather conditions made it unsafe to land in Perth and the crew couldn’t safely carry on with their job.

Qantas and Geraldton Airport didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment made outside of normal working hours.

It’s not the only travel nightmare that Qantas passengers have experienced recently. An Australian couple told Insider their 13-month-old baby was booked on a separate Qantas flight from Europe to Thailand.

After spending more than 20 hours on the phone with Qantas’ helpline, they managed to book a flight home 12 days after the initial departure flight.

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