We arrived in Auckland, New Zealand 02DEC16 @ 22h15, with only 1 of our 4 checked-in baggage arriving in Auckland. We stood there, baffled by the situation, we made our way to Menzies to try and sort out our luggage situation. The 2 Menzies staff on duty, seamed rather discouraged to help us. I explained to them that we could not leave the airport without a baby car seat. The guy that helped us, after a long search, 1st offered us a booster seat, and then eventually went a borrowed a car seat from Air New Zealand. We eventually left the airport by 01h30 the next morning, with an over tired baby, no pram to put her down in (nor could Menzies offer us a pram), with a car seat that was in a horrible condition. We were compensated with NZ$137.00 for the 3 missing luggage pieces which included a pram and baby car seat.
We had to cancel our plans for the 3rd Dec to go into Auckland, as we had to go buy a pram, clothing and diapers and other toiletries. We only had the 1 Day in Auckland, before we had to make our way down to Rotorua, and further down. There was no way we could do touristy things with an infant without a pram. Our missing luggage pieces arrived in 2 separate deliveries days after we arrived in Paraparaumu, New Zealand.
And then came the trip homeward bound…
Our flight details: 18DEC16, QF63 @18h50 from Sydney to Johannesburg, Seats: 43D & 43E
We checked-in the 17DEC16, on flight QF144 set to depart @ 08h35, from Auckland to Sydney. Just before our flight was about to depart, the crew came to take our baby’s pram. The first delay (due to technical problems) of 1 hour, for our flight was announced at our gate well after our flight should’ve departed. At which point we realized that chances are good that we’ll miss our connecting flight to Johannesburg, as we only had 1h25min connecting between the 2 flights. A second flight delay was call again, at which point we knew that we would not make our connecting flight. I then queued with everybody else missing their connecting flights, to hear what is happening next. We were then informed by crew that we should just get on the plane, whenever the flight departs, and in Sydney we should speak to the ground staff, where they will tell us exactly what to do. We waited some more. It was just after 11am that the crew at the gate announced that meal voucher will now be handed out for passenger to go and eat something. Passengers took off, being advised to refer to the screens for updates. We wanted to grab a bite like everybody else, we went to the front desk to kindly request that our pram was handed back to us, as our baby was by then very tired as it was an earlier morning. I reckon it was about 40 minutes after we left the gate, just when I sat down to eat, when we noticed that flight QF144 status changed to GATES CLOSING, and that the gate number is now 9 and not 15 as before. We got up and ran as fast as we could, my husband rushing with our baby that just fell asleep in the pram. I thru my food in the bin, and ran. When we got to gate 9, there was nobody! Like in nothing and nobody! No crew member, no notice, not even a Qantas plane! Nothing! We stood there confused, thinking – this is it, we’ve missed our flight! We stood there a good 2 minutes, thinking how we’ve missed the flight status changing – and convinced no announcement was made, and we both myself and my husband kept an eye on the screens for updates. Confused we agreed to go back to gate 15. Up with the elevator back to gate 15, as we exited the elevator we saw a man running towards gate 9… and we realized he saw, what we saw, we stopped him, and told him there is nothing going on at gate 9. As we stood there, explaining what just happened, we look down the hallway, and could see a storm of people running in our direction. As they came closer, we tried to stop them, and explained that nothing is there. As passengers started to gather, we slowed moved back to gate 9. A short while after, back at gate 9, an announcement was made on the intercom that passenger travelling on flight QF144 should please go to gate 9. From there things went slightly pear-shaped.
As more and more passengers gathered at gate 9, Qantas ground staff also came to the gate. By then passenger was slightly agitated and passenger queued to find out what was going on. We were then told that our plane will depart from this gate, and we are just awaiting a plane. Things started to sound good, and even better when Qantas cabin crew arrived at the gate. We sat about at gate 9 for about an hour or more, before being boarded on flight QF144. Again, our baby’s pram was collected upon boarding. When we got on the plane, we were relieved. But, settling down on the plane, we could see that the luggage for the flight have not been loaded yet. After about 30 min on the plane, it was confirmed that luggage is still being loaded, and it will take about 30mins for the loading of the luggage. Another PA was made soon after the 30-min luggage period – it was the Captain speaking, his total flying hours for the day has been reached – he will disembark and another pilot was called to take over the flight. It will take about an hour for the other pilot to be here. We waited on the plane for another hour.
Between all the chaos of the day I noticed a lady earlier the morning with check-in with a newborn. At our first departing gate (gate 15) I started talking to her, learning that the baby is only 12 weeks old. She was also the wife of the pilot that was supposed to fly us out on QF144 that morning, but he was removed from that flight, she told me. The entire day this lady spent with baby rapped on her, as she had no pram with her, as it was supposed to be an easy travel to her family in Australia – where she had everything. This lady sat the row behind us on the plane while we waited almost 2 hours. I could see she was totally exhausted and so was her baby. She sat there crying, trying to calm her baby, and trying her best to privately nurse on the plane.
After the 2 hours on the plane, another PA was made, our flight has been cancelled, and passengers should kindly disembark the plane, and please go to gate 6 for further instructions. Off the plane got, asking the ground staff immediately for our baby’s pram back. The reply we got was pleasing… “We’ll find it immediately and bring it to you”. We sat down at gate 6… again waiting… 30 min passed in which we constantly kept on asking for our pram. Then an announcement was made on the intercom, all passengers travelling on flight QF148 to Sydney should please go to gate 4. It took a few seconds before people started getting up, and walking away. Confused, we went to the front desk at gate 6 for information, upon which we were informed to go to gate 4.
Because the is only a 30-min free Wi-Fi at Auckland airport, passengers kept on asking for free Wi-Fi (which was denied) to let their family and friends know what was going on. Because there is a time frame linked on the Wi-Fi you buy, myself had to buy Wi-Fi about 3 times to let my family and our lifts in South Africa know, that we will not be arrive on the 17th Dec.
At gate 4 passengers queued, (our baby also wanted to sleep by then) and I queued in the massive que whilst my husband tried to find our pram. After about an hour with my 12kg baby my arms starting cramping by then, and I could no longer hold her. I also then went to the front desk to find out where the pram is. When a ground staff attend to us, the response was more than just disappointing. The staff member asked me, if I really expect them to off load everything just to get out the pram. I ask if they can offer me an alternative pram, and they said they don’t have anything.. My husband went and queued on my behalf. After an hour, he reached the front desk upon we were told that we can’t board this flight. Passengers travelling onwards, that have missed there connecting flights will be accommodated in Sydney for the night, and as South African citizen we need a transit visa. We need to go back to Qantas information desk in the international departures hall to arrange for accommodation for the night. We had go through border control again, with the necessary paperwork involved. Only we got our luggage we finally got our baby’s pram. Above all, the one suitcase was badly damaged, that it was beyond repair. At Qantas Information desk, the lady rebooked all our flights for the next morning. She also arranged accommodation at the Novotel at the the airport, and even arranged for a camping cot for the baby upon our request. This lady also told us to go to Menzies regarding the badly damaged suitcase. We got good service at Menzies, and we were provided a new suitcase to pack our luggage over. Qantas information desk informed us that we have NZ$50.00 pp meal voucher to use at the hotel. Checking out of the hotel the next morning, we were told that the meal vouchers in only valid for adults, we have an outstanding balance exceeding the NZ$100. Not wanting to get upset again after the day we had the day before, we took off to check-in for our flight. Although our flight was slightly delayed in Auckland and we had to wait on the landing strip for a parking spot at Sydney airport, we finally arrived in Sydney.
At our boarding gate in Sydney for our flight we met up with our fellow passengers that were on the same flight the previous day that spent the night in Sydney. They told us, that in Sydney the got AU$50.00 meal voucher per person, as well as AU$60.00 spending money.
We board our flight from Sydney to Johannesburg. At our seats, we did not have any space in the overhead lockers. Overhead locker space was already full, and because we were right behind business class, there was only a few people (2 rows) in that section. Because most of our carry-on luggage is for our baby, it’s best to keep stuff as close as possible to us. I asked around on our side of the rows, if the luggage belonged to any of the passengers. A cabin crew member, that stood close enough to hear that I asked whom the luggage belonged to, made a comment “the overhead locker is there for everybody to share”. She stood there glaring at us, not even trying to help us, as we were struggling to find space for our luggage. A gentleman on the other side of the row (thus 43F) jumped up, and said it’s their luggage, and came to take 1 bag out, so we could just put something in the overhead locker. There wasn’t space for the nappy bag, and we left it at our feet, at the wall that we sat in front of. When the crew prepared the cabin for take-off the one crew member told us that the nappy bag is not allowed there. We told him that there is no space in the overhead lockers, and the other lockers are too far away. He popped the bag in business class for take-off. After take-off, we started noticing that cabin crew kept on popping in to greet the 2 gentlemen that sat next to us (seats 43F&G). During the whole flight these 2 men was treated with snacks and all kinds of special offerings from business class. Never did any of the crew brought a meal for our baby during the whole flight. Nor did they offer her an adult meal during the flight. We kept on asking for food, and the 1 crew member kept on promising he’ll bring us some food for the baby. Even when the same crew member kept on bringing gifts to the 2 gentlemen next to us, and I reminded him of the food he said he was going to bring, and he again acknowledge, he still did not bring the food. About 2 hours before we landed in Johannesburg I asked another crew member for some food. He said he’ll see what he can do. After a very long search he offered us 2 sachets baby food was all that they had onboard. He told us that we were supposed to book a special meal for our baby. Never during our booking process, were we asked to book a meal for our child. We didn’t know about this, as on previous flights our baby was well looked after. Also, crew can see on their passenger sheet that there are babies & kids onboard the flight. This crew member also went on and said “surely you would’ve brought your baby some food for the flight”. To which I explained to him, that I did pack my baby food, but all the food that I have brought along was used the day before when we sat at the airport. The same lady that earlier in the flight made the rude comment of the overhead locker being for everybody to share, also came to speak to us. She said, sorry they didn’t carry any extra baby food on-board. Then soon after the crew member that we repeatedly kept asking for baby food, then came to apologized for not bringing the food as we requested – he apologized for forgetting!
In summary, I feel that my family, especially my daughter, was tread unfairly, and to me this unacceptable. As in a recent post on your facebook post: “Your family's journey is important to us, and we want to make sure you make the most of it!” Thus, I believe that as parent you will feel disgusted by an unfortunate situation like this. During the flight cancelling on the 17th Dec, passengers were not adequately informed.
I believe that Qantas will understand why I am requesting pleasingly compensation for the situation.
I also would like feedback on how the cabin crew on flight QF63 will be asked to attend to passengers more adequately.
Three other people that I know, that travelled with Qantas in the last month, they all have stories to tell about bad experience and flights delayed. This is worrying Qantas! This is not acceptable!