Last week, passengers on a roughly 14,000-kilometer flight from Darwin, Australia’s Northern Territory, to London were stuck without any luggage for up to six days due to a deteriorating runway.
Qantas now runs the world’s longest direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London, with a brief layover in Darwin to refuel the Boeing 787 Dreamliners that fly the 17-and-a-half-hour flights.
Unfortunately, recent excessive rain damaged a part of Darwin International Airport’s runway, which began to crumble and required immediate repairs.
As a result, the Qantas pilots were unable to use the entire length of the runway as planned and were forced to reduce the aircraft’s weight in order to get the fly airborne in a quicker time.
There are two basic options for accomplishing this: discharge passengers or take all passengers but not all of their luggage.
The second alternative was chosen by Qantas, but the airline was only given a few days warning of the planned urgent repair work, and the word was not conveyed to passengers. Or, at the very least, not until the cabin announcement 20 minutes before arrival in London.
Passengers were required to wait at the luggage carousel upon arrival in London in case their bag had been loaded onto the flight, and if they did not appear, they could file a missing baggage claim.
Certain travelers claim that Qantas promised to deliver their luggage within two or three days, but that it took nearly a week in some cases.
Non-stop Qantas flights to Europe are already weight restricted due to the length of the trips, therefore clearing the backlog required many days.
A Qantas spokesperson confirmed the problems saying a statement that “an issue with the runway pavement at Darwin Airport resulted in temporary additional weight restrictions on our flights to London last week and unfortunately that meant we weren’t able to carry some passengers’ bags on their flight”.
“Bags were accommodated on later flights and are couriered directly to customers as soon as we’re able to confirm the correct address. We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused our passengers and thank them for their understanding.”