Chaotic scenes at Melbourne airport as travellers warned of more mayhem
After being shut off to the world for two years during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Australia's airports are bracing for an influx of passengers as school holidays begin.
Travellers should expect long queues, delayed flights and lost baggage, with airports adjusting to the busy season as they rebuild their decimated workforces after thousands were laid off due to a lack of flights.
Long queues were moving slowly at Melbourne airport this morning.
"What can you do? Hopefully it will be worth it," one traveller told Channel Nine while waiting in line, lamenting the slow progress at check-in.
"We've moved one person," the woman said.
Melbourne Airport is expecting more than 2.1 million people to pass through its terminals in the coming days.
"They're [airport staff] are handling it really well considering," one passenger told the ABC on Friday morning.
"It's busy, but people are making it through."
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CEO Lorie Argus could not rule out more baggage issues, even telling travellers not to put critical items in their checked luggage.
"We are seeing staff shortages in the baggage makeup areas, so what I would recommend is just make sure you have the key parts of your luggage...
"[And that] you’re prepared that if you do have a mishandled bag you can live without that luggage for a short period of time," she told 3AW.
Long queues already forming at the Melbourne Airport as the holiday exodus begins @thetodayshow pic.twitter.com/s43sowQkNk
— Christine Ahern (@ChristineAhern) June 23, 2022
Sydney airport also expecting 2 million passengers during school holidays
Sydney Airport is also forecasting more than two million passengers between June 24 and July 17, with 1.5 million of them expected to take a domestic flight.
Total passenger traffic recovered to 69 per cent of pre-Covid levels, the airport said.
"Our forecast shows the July school holidays are going to be even busier than what we saw in April," Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said.
"It's terrific to see the ongoing demand for air travel. But we won't sugar-coat the fact that the terminals will be busy during the school holidays, and there will be queues.
"The root cause of these challenges is that every business at the airport is rebuilding its workforce and doing it in the tightest jobs market in nearly half a century," Mr Culbert said.
'Shaming our nation': Qantas bears brunt of frustrations
Qantas has borne the brunt of travellers' ire on social media in recent days, with many reporting their bags missing and flights delayed at the last minute.
One passenger this week was left "distressed and anxious" after a bag containing her dead mother's ashes went missing on a Qantas flight.
There has been a torrent of anger and frustration on social media from travellers lamenting cancelled flights, missing bags and poor customer service from the national carrier.
"Someone is stealing our pride. Someone is shaming our nation. I am RIDICULOUSLY loyal to Qantas, but you’re losing me," one person tweeted on Thursday.
Hey @Qantas - seriously. Someone there is destroying our national carrier. Someone is stealing our pride. Someone is shaming our nation.
I am RIDICULOUSLY loyal to Qantas, but you’re losing me.
— Rhys Muldoon (@rhysam) June 23, 2022
Just a heads up. Melbourne Airport (Jetstar anyway) is broken today. Software update gone wrong means bag check in not working.
— Rebecca Urban (@RurbsOz) June 22, 2022
The airline on Thursday said it was "pulling out all stops and working with airports and suppliers to ensure the upcoming holiday period is not impacted by the significant disruptions that customers faced over Easter".
Along with its budget subsidiary Jetstar, it has recruited more than 1000 operational team members with 20 per cent more staff on stand-by rosters than during the Easter period.
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