Jetstar is blaming a “miscommunication” after a flight to Bali was forced to make a U-turn and return to Melbourne almost five hours after it had left the Victorian state.
A flight tracker reveals the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner had just crossed the Australian coast north of Broome on Wednesday morning and was only 34 minutes out of Denpasar airport before it was suddenly diverted. By that point, passengers – who had already faced a five hour delay for their JQ35 flight at Tullamarine Airport – had been in the air for four hours and 45 minutes.
By the time they touched down in Melbourne, they’d been flying for close to 11 hours.
Jetstar's failure to have larger aircraft ‘approved’
With the plane still in the air, many Aussies took to Facebook to vent their confusion, questioning if weather conditions in Indonesia or a technical fault with the plane was to blame.
Jetstar has since revealed the cause of the diversion, admitting that a simple error was made.
“We swapped yesterday’s Melbourne to Bali service to a larger Boeing 787 aircraft to carry more customers during the holidays,” a spokesperson for the airline told Yahoo News Australia. “Unfortunately, due to a miscommunication, the swap to a larger aircraft had not been approved by the local regulator in Indonesia.”
As soon as Jetstar “became aware”, the flight was turned around and sent back to Melbourne. It was a further blow for those on board the flight that was due to leave Australia at 6.15pm on Tuesday night but didn’t get off the ground until just after 11pm.
While the airline says it’s launched a review to “understand how this communication happened” so it can prevent it from occurring again, hundreds of passengers have been left displaced.
“We know this has been an extremely frustrating experience for customers and sincerely apologise for what happened,” the Jetstar representative said, explaining that all passengers had been rebooked onto a flight later on Wednesday.
“While customers wait for their new flight, we’re providing them with hotel rooms and meal vouchers, and we’ll cover additional airport transport costs. To thank customers for their patience, we’re also reaching out to them to provide a $200 travel voucher.”
Post-Christmas holidays ruined
After being trapped on a plane for close to 11 hours, disgruntled passengers took to Twitter to vent their anger.
“Thank you Jetstar Airways for the worst travel experience of my life,” one person wrote online. “After cancelling our original flight, delaying the second and then returning back to Melbourne only an hour to landing, the [ground] staff were unresponsive and unhelpful. Genuinely shocking service. Never again.”
The passenger did add that the “pilot and cabin crew were great,” during the horror flight. “I felt sorry for them because they were also left in the dark,” they said.
While those on Facebook slammed the “stupid” airline.
“It looks like Jetstar have started doing mystery flights like its parent Qantas,” one person wrote. “Not even Jetstar knows where they’re flying to.”
“Poor passengers, that would have been a really long flight to nowhere,” another commented. “This would be devastating for these people,” another said. “My heart goes out to those people who right now should be enjoying potentially a once in a decade holiday.”
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