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Jetstar slammed after passenger's 'ridiculous' 16-hour ordeal

A Melbourne woman's trip interstate ended in disaster after a twice-delayed Jetstar flight sparked a series of unfortunate – and frustrating – events.

Alicia watched a Jetstar plane pull into Newcastle Airport on Saturday evening, ahead of her 6.35pm flight back home.

However, she told Yahoo News Australia on Monday staff at the gate disappeared as crew on board the plane disembarked.

Then an announcement rang through the gate alerting passengers there was an engineering problem and Jetstar was trying to get an engineer to the airport.

Staff told Alicia there was no engineer at the airport in Newcastle and she and the other passengers waited for two hours at the airport, hoping to get a flight to Melbourne.

Pictured is a Jetstar plane taking off near the location of Melbourne airport's new runway, in Melbourne, Monday, January 31, 2022.
Jetstar passengers were stuck in Newcastle overnight after a "bird strike". Source: AAP (AAPIMAGE)

Due to the curfew at Newcastle Airport, passengers were eventually told to line up while Jetstar staff found overnight accommodation for them.

"This is already like after 9pm," Alicia said.

"Everyone's exhausted, there are people with babies that haven't got their prams because they're in checked luggage and then when they finally do get their luggage from the baggage carousel in arrivals, it's all wet having been left out on the tarmac."

Alicia also said elderly people and people with special needs were not helped throughout the process.

"There was a lady that I was trying to help and she was like 81 so I went to go get her luggage when it was made available because she had asked for a wheelchair transfer and no one came to help her," Alicia said.

After rebooking a flight for the next morning and waiting on a bus for everyone to board, Alicia and other passengers were taken to the Hunter Valley, about an hour away, for the night.

Due to a curfew, passengers were taken given accommodation from Jetstar and their flight was rescheduled. Source: Google Maps
Due to a curfew, passengers were taken given accommodation from Jetstar and their flight was rescheduled. Source: Google Maps

Disaster strikes en-route to the airport

However, disaster struck the next morning when the group were on their way back to the airport for their rescheduled flight.

As the bus driver was driving through the resort in the early hours of Sunday morning, Alicia believes he came to a dead-end when he began to reverse.

"It was still dark outside, so he couldn't really see," she said.

"I was sitting in the middle of the bus on the left-hand side and on the right-hand side, you could hear that he's hit something and then he's scraping against it."

The driver had hit a tree and allegedly ignored people's calls to stop as the bus made impact.

A tree branch smashed in to the bus, which was on the way back to the airport for the rescheduled flight. Source: Supplied
A tree branch smashed into the bus, which was on the way back to the airport for the rescheduled flight. Source: Supplied

"Then all of a sudden there's an explosion and the window exploded into the bus," Alicia recalled.

The driver instructed the people who were affected to get off the bus, while the rest remained on.

The driver kept reversing and then smashed two other windows, Alicia claimed. After that, all the passengers decided to get off the bus and make their way back to the resort.

Thankfully, no one on the bus was injured.

"We're all just walking around aimlessly in the dark," Alicia said.

She added when the group finally made their way back to the hotel, staff tried to contact Jetstar to alert them about the accident, only to not receive a response for about an hour.

When the group finally got to the airport, Alicia said no one from Jetstar checked on those who had been involved in the incident.

Instead, someone from airport security was rushing them to check-in.

The tree meant passengers had to wait for alternative transport to the airport. Source: Supplied
The tree meant passengers had to wait for alternative transport to the airport. Source: Supplied

Eventually, Alicia made it home to Melbourne just before midday after Jetstar held the flight for the group.

"We apologise for the disruption caused by a cancellation of a flight from Newcastle to Melbourne on Saturday due to a bird strike," a Jetstar spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.

"Our teams worked hard to minimise the disruption, arranging overnight accommodation at the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley and a new service to Melbourne the following morning."

Passenger slams 'ridiculous' ordeal

Alicia said the whole ordeal was "ridiculous", and while she understands accidents happen, she is in disbelief by the lack of immediate follow-up from Jetstar.

She did not hear from Jetstar until she brought up the issue with the airline on social media.

In an exchange shared with Yahoo News Australia, Alicia said she needed to speak with someone about her recent experience.

"After a flight cancellation the bus that was arranged to take us back to the airport was involved in an accident and no one has reached out to ask if the passengers are ok," she told Jetstar on Facebook.

"This demonstrates you have no interest in passenger safety."

Jetstar responded on Facebook and said a case had been made on Alicia's behalf, who said she wanted the issue resolved that day.

A Jetstar aircraft lands at Sydney Airport on November 09, 2021 in Sydney, Australia.
Alicia said the lack of communication was the most disappointing part. Source: Getty Images (Getty Images)

On Monday afternoon, Alicia received an email from a Jetstar Customer Advocacy Analyst, which Alicia also passed on to Yahoo News Australia.

"We were notified late yesterday that a bus carrying passengers from Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley to Newcastle Airport was involved in an accident and have received a detailed report from the transport provider," the email said.

"I can appreciate that this was an upsetting situation in addition to the overnight flight disruption and I'd like to apologise for this experience.

"The incident report advised that the transport provider had assessed passengers to ensure that there were no injuries, and the relevant processes were followed to ensure passengers were transported to the airport on another service."

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