Mass flight cancellations have left 4,000 Jetstar passengers stranded or forced to cancel trips, with the airline in many cases only able to offer flights a week later.
Many have reported staying in Bali well beyond their expected return date without access to medicine, or being forced to lose wages because they were unable to return home in time to work.
Jason Hayes was given a “breakfast in bed” on Father’s Day: breakfast consisted of a block of chocolate and a packet of crisps, and the bed was a row of seats at Perth airport.
Hayes, his wife, Roxi Heywood Hayes, and the couple’s seven-year-old autistic son, who also has ADHD, were supposed to arrive home in Newcastle from their Bali holiday in late August. Instead, they were stuck in Indonesia for a week, without medication.
Thousands of Australians were still stranded in Bali earlier this week after Jetstar canceled several flights. Eight round-trip services between Melbourne or Sydney and Denpasar have been canceled since September 1, in addition to a series of delays of up to 24 hours.
Jetstar said some 4,000 travelers were affected, but a company spokesman said “most of the affected passengers have now been re-accommodated and our teams are working hard to find an alternative option for the remaining 200 affected passengers.” Guardian Australia understands the number has dropped to 180 as of Tuesday afternoon.
Many travelers in Bali and also in Thailand, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, face delays of more than a week to get an alternative flight home.
But the airline denied the Herald’s report that it had lost half its fleet of long-haul jets to engineering problems.
The original flight home for Hayes and his family was canceled on August 29. After her second flight was canceled on Aug. 31, her son only had a one-day supply of ritalin, Hayes went three days without blood pressure medication, and Heywood Hayes went three days without antidepressants.
“We didn’t think we would be forced to stay in Bali for another week,” said Heywood Hayes.
After the cancellation of his fourth flight, Hayes demanded that the airline take the family “anywhere” in Australia, and they were eventually offered the route from Bali to Perth, Perth to Melbourne, and Melbourne to Sydney, where a trip in three-hour train would take them home. to Newcastle.
Heywood Hayes said they left Bali at 9pm on Saturday night but did not arrive in Newcastle until 1am on Monday morning.
“All of this with a seven-year-old autistic son with ADHD and no medication,” said Heywood Hayes.
She described the experience as “horrible”.
Heywood Hayes was not alone. Speaking from Bali, Sonia Myers told ABC that her father, Lionel, 85, and her friend John Williams, 70, would run out of medication if their return flight was delayed any longer.
Myers said the traveling trio managed to secure a flight for Sept. 12, eight days after their original flight, after being told there were no options to book another flight this month.
In a statement, Jeremy Schmidt, Jetstar’s chief pilot, said The company’s fleet of Boeing 787s “was recently affected by a series of problems: a lightning strike, a bird, an item that moved on the way to the runway and also a critical part that needed to be transported by road through the US before coming to Australia.”
“We would like to sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and frustration caused to our customers by this outage,” Schmidt said.
In a separate statement, a Jetstar spokesperson said that “our teams are working hard to get passengers on the road as soon as possible: we are rolling out five special services to get people home and also reserving seats on Qantas flights. “.
“We have also offered a flight credit or refund to passengers who no longer wish to travel and room and board vouchers for those who require it,” the spokesperson said.
Many travelers have been forced to shell out large sums of money to get back home.
Heywood Hayes said her family lost wages and money they had to pay for appointments they couldn’t keep.
“I don’t work, I don’t get paid,” said the early cleaning and childcare worker.
Meagan Mulder told news.com.au that the four friends she was traveling with paid more than $10,000 to book flights with another airline to get home via Kuala Lumpur.
The cancellation of flights in the opposite direction, from Australia to Bali, has also caused unrest.
Maree Edmond told Guardian Australia that the cancellation of her flight, due to leave for Bali on September 4, led to the cancellation of the family’s vacation because her husband, a self-employed builder, could not afford to stay in Bali for more than two years. budgeted.
“By the time we got there, it would have been half of what we had planned and we couldn’t risk getting stuck there and having to go back to work commitments,” Edmond said.
Their only other option was to book with another airline, but the cost would have been $4,500 and their travel insurance could not guarantee that they would be reimbursed for the cost of the initial flights.
“I am totally devastated, angry and frustrated. Like many, we have saved and planned an amazing vacation abroad that has been denied us for many years, only to have it squashed,” said Edmond.
Lloyd Hargraves took to social media to tell Jetstar of his disappointment that the cancellation of his flight to Bali meant he missed his friend’s wedding.
Hargraves discovered that his September 1 flight had been rescheduled for the following day, but when he arrived at the airport he was met with further delays.
He said the experience cost him $1,500, as well as the opportunity “to see our friend get married, which we can never get back.”