People hoping to fly home in time for Christmas have been left disappointed and disoriented as flights are delayed and cancelled this holiday season.
Passengers who were on the Qantas Airbus A380 “QF1,” which was forced to make an emergency landing in Azerbaijan on Friday, said they didn’t know whether they would be spending their Christmas lunch in the air or at the family table.
Qantas staff and passengers at Baku airport after their flight made an emergency landing en route from Singapore to London.Credit:Nik Long
“Looks like we’re not getting out of here until 10:30pm (AEST) on Christmas Eve,” said passenger Nik Long who is stuck in Baku.
“Most of us are still in limbo waiting for details for connecting flights. So, Christmas may be spent in the air [or in] immigration.”
The Qantas flight to London, which was scheduled to arrive at Heathrow Airport at 6.15am (GMT) on Friday, had to make an emergency landing in the eastern European country after pilots received an intermittent fault indicator in the cockpit.
However, the stranded plane in Baku is also causing chaos for Qantas customers in London, who had booked to fly home for Christmas Day.
A passenger, who did not wish to be named, said that Qantas customer service told him the plane he and his family are meant to be catching back to Australia is the same aircraft that is grounded in Baku.
“We were [meant] to fly tonight, 23 December, to Sydney. The whole intent was to be back home for Christmas,” the man said.
“Now it looks like we may fly out on the 25th, arriving home on Boxing Day … It’s very upsetting for my family, and I’m a bit stumped. I thought they would be better than this.”
A Qantas A380 was met by emergency services after diverting to Baku.Credit:Craig Abraham
A spokesperson for Qantas told this masthead that a relief flight was on its way from Australia and that engineers from London were on their way over to Azerbaijan to help get the plane up and running as quickly as possible.
Qantas customers stuck in Baku have been put up in hotels while the airline weighs up options to get the passengers to London, but it was a logistical nightmare for people who said they sat at the airport for seven hours before they were taken to a hotel.
“All passengers are handing over their passports to Azerbaijani border teams, accompanied by a Qantas representative. They are literally being put in a duffel bag [and] taken somewhere for the approval process.” one customer said on Friday night.
The airline confirmed that while the fault was seemingly a false alarm and the aircraft’s pilots had acted in accordance with the airline’s safety protocols. Qantas has never had a fatal jet airliner accident.
It’s not yet known what time the flight from Baku will arrive in London, but with UK Border Force officers currently in the midst of a strike over pay and conditions, passengers could face more delays.
Qantas said they will keep customers updated via SMS and email as the information comes available.
With Amelia McGuire
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