Hundreds of "freezing" Jetstar passengers flying to Cairns who were left stranded for more than 24 hours at an airport in Japan have expressed anger at the airline for its lack of communication and support.
On Wednesday Jetstar told Yahoo News Australia that "due to heavy snowfall, the bridge connecting the mainland of Osaka to Kansai International Airport was closed overnight" from Tuesday, which prevented their crew from "accessing the airport".
"Unfortunately, the bridge closure also meant customers already at the airport were unable to leave, meaning they couldn’t access hotels in the city," a spokesman said.
But stranded Aussies disputed the airline's explanation as they were left with nothing more than muesli bars, modest food vouchers and insufficient blankets.
Passengers at Osaka left in uncomfortable conditions
Despite Jetstar saying they offered support to customers by providing "meals, water and blankets," several customers, still at the airport, said the company painted a far rosier picture than reality.
One man claimed "there are many elderly people and very young families with babies that had to literally sleep on a concrete floor, covered with a thin layer of vinyl".
"There were roughly 300 people left in a freezing airport last night, with absolutely nothing to eat and nothing to drink," he said on Wednesday night. "It was a few degrees roughly 8C inside this terminal.
"The only individual we could speak to was a 23-year-old woman from the Osaka airport. She did not work for Jetstar. If it was not for her no one would have had even blankets or muesli bars. Jetstar left us for dead.
"The snow finished 20 hours ago, and the airport has been completely emptied, other than our flight. Every other plane was taking off around us at the airport."
A couple awaiting their flight confirmed the blankets were "sourced by a passenger," saying Jetstar only "provided a food voucher" while one Aussie husband reached out to say that this wife was "offered 2 muesli bars in the last 24 hours."
Others lamented the difficult time they had trying to get any clarification or information from Jetstar.
"My wife had a connecting flight to Perth scheduled for today, Jetstar have been unable to provide information on what will happen when she arrives in Cairns," one person said. "Ground staff and Jetstar live chat have been super unhelpful."
Passengers kept in the dark, flight being 'constantly rescheduled'
Due to the flight being delayed several times, passengers were left wondering as to when they would finally leave for Cairns.
"They are yet to make any announcements or provide any email or text correspondence to explain what has been happening," a couple complained on Wednesday night. "Even the other flights that have been delayed have been clearing faster with only a one or two-hour delay."
A Jetstar spokesman told Yahoo News Australia on late Wednesday afternoon that their "crew is now on the way to the airport and the flight is due to take off in coming hours."
"We always do everything we can to avoid delays, but severe weather like this is out of our control."
However the father of one stranded passenger told Yahoo on Thursday his son's flight had still not departed and was now scheduled to leave later Thursday morning, citing "engineering requirements" as the airline's explanation for the latest delay.
One stranded family told Yahoo their family of six was eventually provided accomodation "a long way from the airport", where they arrived at 11pm (local time) on Wednesday night. Writing on a bus on the way back to the Osaka airport early on Thursday morning, they confirmed the flight was now due to leave at 10am.
Flight delayed again over PA system, Jetstar says
A Jetstar spokesperson told Yahoo on Thursday a problem with the PA system led to further delays.
"The bridge has since been reopened however, a problem with the aircraft’s PA system unfortunately caused a further delay and we will always put safety before schedule. The flight will now depart 10am local time today," they said.
"We have arranged hotel rooms for customers or will reimburse those who prefer to book their own accommodation. We’ll also cover transport costs to and from the airport, meals and other reasonable expenses. We’re very sorry for the delays to this flight. We appreciate it’s been a frustrating experience."
UPDATE: The 10am flight was again delayed by a further two hours.
According to local media, more than 200 flights were cancelled due to the extreme weather.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.