Date Posted: 16/09/2018
Flying across Australia from Perth to Melbourne on board the Qantas Dreamliner in Business Class, was quite literally the calm before the storm. Unknown to me as I stepped onto that aircraft and embarked on my journey across to the east coast was that Sydney was bracing for severe weather that evening. As I disembarked my flight once I arrived at Melbourne Airport at 6pm, I made my way to the newly refurbished Business Class Lounge in the Domestic terminal. Currently the lounge is only partially opened which means a huge reduction in seating capacity within the lounge.
Making my way towards the lounge there were groups of travellers everywhere throughout the terminal, it wasn’t until I got into the lounge I realised why there were so many people waiting for flights. There were hardly any seats in the lounge to choose from, and I was just about to walk out the lounge precinct to find a spot in the terminal to wait for my next flight to Sydney. I was scheduled to depart on QF466 and I was about to walk out the lounge the Qantas lady at the front desk stopped me and asked why I was leaving so soon, she ended up re-arranging a section of the lounge to free up a group of seats for me which was so good of her to do.
As I got a drink and some food I made myself comfortable in the lounge. Soon after finishing my dinner an announcement was made over the speakers notifying all passengers that due to the storm activity which was currently passing over Sydney they have closed the airport until further notice. Staff in the lounge recommended that everyone kept an eye the screens in the lounge to see if any of their flights were impacted. Unfortunately for me my flight QF467 flying from Melbourne to Sydney which I was supposed to be on, had the word ‘CANCELLED’ next to it on the screens.
Soon after the first announcement was made a second announcement was made suggesting that those passengers travelling on QF467 were to make their way up to the service desk to seek alternative arrangements and that their luggage would be available from the baggage claim area.
Thanks to one of my awesome friends who I have gotten to know over the last few years sent me a message to see if I was caught up in the current disruptions. I let them know my predicament and within a few minutes a lovely lady from Qantas Customer Services was on the phone to me trying to sort out what my options were, all within minutes of my flight being cancelled.
My original flights were booked for me to fly over to Noumea for a status run, as most of us are familiar with status runs there isn’t much room for movement in your schedule, but thankfully the lady from Qantas Customer Services knew exactly what to do. I said I didn’t mind where I went as long as I’m back in Perth by the 9th September and that I receive the same amount of credits that I originally booked for. It took her no time in figuring out a whole new itinerary for me to travel on which saw me travelling over to Auckland.
Now the tough decision had to be made…. Do I continue to wait in Melbourne Airport to see if my substitute flight QF474 Melbourne to Sydney will end up departing to Sydney later that night, or will it remain cancelled, or perhaps not reach Sydney before airport curfew came into effect?
I made the decision to have my itinerary reissued and head off to Auckland, which I thought would save me the stress of waiting to see what would happen with QF474 if I chose to stay at Melbourne Airport.
Announcements were continuously made through my time in the lounge making sure that all passengers were kept up to date on any changes that occurred to their flights. Once my ticket was reissued I made my way to the international terminal, what I thought it would be leisurely stroll between terminals turned out to be a stressful journey, trying to figure out what accommodation I had to cancel and re-book, as well as figuring out where exactly I was going.
I arrived at the international check in area, and used the priority queue to check in. I made my way up to the desk and the gentleman at check in asked if I had ran to the terminal as I was sweating and no doubt looking exhausted. I explained to him what had happened to my flights and that Qantas had re-issued my flights and I was now heading to Auckland. He couldn’t believe that I was doing all these flights just to attain Platinum One status with Qantas. He wished that I had an A330 aircraft taking me up and back to Auckland but unfortunately I was put onto a Boeing 737 operated route which meat no lie flat seats in Business.
After I had checked in, I made my way through passport control and the security checkpoints and headed straight for the Qantas First Class Lounge around by Gate 9. After being up since 4am the following morning and with no sleep in sight until I arrived in Perth the next day I was getting more stressed out trying to re arrange all my plans now that my flights had changed. Thankfully the First Class Lounge Hosts were on hand to help as they could see me stressing out as I arrived in the lounge. After then having to explain to them where I was heading to and why my plans have changed they told me to take a shower and try and relax before my next flight.
I managed to cancel my Melbourne accommodation for the following day but couldn’t get in contact with my the hotel in Sydney that I booked accommodation with, I explained to the Qantas First Host my problem and he tried to ring through and cancel it for me but neither of us had any success. He gave me a few toiletries and amenities form behind the front desk and assured me that he would look after cancelling my accommodation for me, so I headed off to the shower to try and refresh my self before travelling for another 18 hours.
The shower did the trick, there is no way you can possible come out of a shower in the First Class Lounge and not feel refreshed. This is the first time I have ever showered in an airport lounge and it was so good just to have a shower after travelling since 4am that morning.
I walked past the front desk after having my shower to see how the First Host went with cancelling my hotel reservation, still no success but he did offer me a pair of Qantas pyjamas so I could change out of my suit which I had been in the whole day and isn’t the most comfortable sleepwear attire. Once I had printed out my revised itinerary, I made the most of my remaining time in the lounge with a glass of champagne and some food.
My newly issued flights saw me departing Melbourne at 11pm, being an overnight flight to Auckland I only wished that I could get some sleep on the way over. I’m not the one that can fall asleep easily on plane, despite how much I travel. Once on board I changed into my Qantas pyjamas, nestled myself up in my blanket, rested my head against the pillow and hoped to god that I could catch up on some sleep.
It was weird to arrive into Auckland so early in the morning at 4am, only to pass through the terminal, collect my bag and get back onto QF152 to take me back to Melbourne at 7am. I needed to get some fresh once I cleared through immigration and customs, so I checked my luggage back in and then went for a walk outside, just to have a break from the airport. It was nice just to be able to sit outside of the terminal and just watch everyone going past in the early hours of the morning, it’s surprising how many people are at Auckland Airport that early in the morning. I headed back into the terminal and relaxed in the lounge prior to boarding my flight back to Melbourne.
Thankfully, on my return flight back to Melbourne I had a spare seat next to me which allowed me to spread out during the flight and make myself comfortable, not to mention how good the crew were on this flight.
After travelling on four different flights and managing to get only an hours sleep over the last 32 hours I was exhausted. I passed back though Immigration and Customs before heading back to the Domestic Terminal. It was nice to be able to check in my bags for the final time and make my way straight towards the lounge. I had four hours spare before my flight back to Perth at 1240pm and I found a spare seat in the lounge and I was able to finally relax and know that once I arrived in Perth there was a nice comfy king bed waiting for me at the Intercontinental.
Even the following day there were still delays following on from the storms in Sydney, and of course my flight taking me to Perth was one of those affected by the delays. The aircraft that was supposed to operate QF769 but was stuck in Adelaide with engineering issues.QF769 had a revised departure time of 2:20pm, but I was just thankful that it wasn’t cancelled!
The flight boarded as normal at Gate 10, with the flight departing soon after. I was so tired and I knew that there was a possibility I could get some sleep on this four hour flight. I think I managed to catch up on two hours of sleep which was a start, lunch was offered on board with a gourmet pie being my choice for lunch. Once I landed at Perth, I made my way to baggage claim, collected my bag for the final time today and headed straight for the Intercontinental on Hay Street.
Once I arrived at the Intercontinental Perth all the staff there were lovely in welcoming me to the hotel and a huge surprise was that the bellman on the door remembered me from my previous stays at the hotel and welcomed me back as soon as he greeted me which was lovely. It was a great way to end an extremely stressful few days of flying. Once I settled into my room I had a nice warm shower, ordered room service and jumped straight into bed.
Currently I’m waiting on a response from Qantas to see what they will reimburse me for due the cancellation of my flights and the accommodation that I had to chancel as my flights had changed. Thankfully I added travel insurance to my booking, which is something I don’t usually do on status runs, but fingers crossed what Qantas don’t reimburse me for travel insurance should. Lesson learn, always travel with travel insurance, especially for status runs when you have various flight and as soon as one flight gets cancelled the rest of your journey becomes impossible to complete.
I will let you know how my claims go, so if his ever happens to you, you know from my experience what you can expect to get back from the airline and the travel insurance company.
I am extremely thankful for everyone at Qantas that helped me out, right from getting someone to call me within minutes of my flight being cancelled right up to the all the staff in Melbourne Airport who had no doubt a far more stressful day than I did trying to re-organise so many flight for passengers throughout the night, not to mention everyone behind the scenes that were scheduling flights and trying to minimise the disruption.
After travelling on over 180 flights over the past two years I’ve been lucky enough to avoid any major to delays like this one, and I’m extremely grateful that it happened in Australia and that I could get in contact with people who could help me with my predicament at the time.